Here is everything you need to know about how the UoB libraries are going to work

You get four hours a week and bring your own snacks

Libraries will be opening on Monday, you get four hours per week to study in them, you can book a space up to two weeks in advance and most cafes will remain shut so bring your own snacks. These are just a few things we found out when we were given a tour of the ASS Library, Wills Library and Chemistry library this morning.

Our tour guides Ed Fay, Deputy Director of Library Services, and Sarah Newbold, the Assistant Director for students and learning, showed us around and explained how they are trying to optimise the spaces in a Covid-secure way.

Since communication from the uni themselves has been pretty much non-existant, here is everything you need to know about returning to your beloved study spaces.

There will be no 24 hour study spaces

Apologies to all you nocturnal students in deadline season, a night of red bulls in the ASS Library is not an option to get your deadlines done. The libraries will be operating from 8am until 8pm on the main sites.

If you want to find a study space during the day, in the ASS Library there are 246 seats available out of a possible (pre-covid) 900. The seats in the ASSL make up over 1/5 of all seats in campus.

Whilst using the study spaces, you must always wear a mask.

Year groups will not be prioritised in terms of library time

Ed stressed that he is open to feedback and listening to students’ experiences of the new system, and said the library team will be “monitoring the situation closely” to see whether they can extend the maximum amount of hours. However, Sarah told us that in order to give everyone an equal opportunity, prioritisation of certain year groups in study spaces will not be possible.

You have to bring your own snacks

The Source Cafe in the ASS Library will not be opening, so you’ll have to make your own smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich at home.

You will have FOUR HOURS per week to use across all libraries on campus

You can book up to four hours per week across any study space. So, to be clear, you could do two hours in the ASS Library on a Monday and two hours in Wills on a Wednesday, but that would be your lot for the week.

Sarah told The Bristol Tab that the four hour maximum is “what is possible, but also what is fairest”, so all students have an equal opportunity in the library spaces.

The Bristol Tab asked why the university had not gone down the route of perspex screen dividers in order to gain more space, to which Ed told us that it was considered, but this would need “more monitorisation” and staff “cannot assure that the risk is efficiently managed”, so social distancing by two metres is the safest option.

The university initially piloted their booking system in Beacon House last week, where you are able to book up to 10 hours across the week. The 10 hour system was put in place at a quieter time to test out the booking system, said Ed and Sarah, but with 27,000 students returning to campus the hours had to be capped.

In an instagram poll, we asked whether our followers thought the initial 10 hours per week maximum was enough time and 80 per cent said no.

There are just over 900 spaces available across the university for all students

Across the whole uni there will be just over 900 study spaces available out of 4000, and they are “still squeezing seats in”.

The library services hope to reach 950 spaces by deadline and exam season, and are looking to open up unused seminar rooms as study spaces.

Along with the 246 spaces in the ASS Library, there are currently there are 105 spaces in Wills Library and  74 in the Chemistry Library. Anyone, regardless of subject, can book to use these spaces.

Worried that people will book a space and not turn up? Ed and Sarah reassured us that after 15 minutes, if the student has not checked in, the booking is released back to the booking system.

Upon arrival to your study space, you must also check in with track and trace on the NHS app.

A table for eight in Wills Library, which can now only seat two.

You can browse for and checkout books without booking a space

In most libraries you can go in and browse for books without booking a space, but you cannot stay.

In libraries where the book shelves are amongst the seats, like Wills Library and the Physics Library, and social distancing cannot be maintained, browsing is not possible.

You can browse and use books during your booked slot, but whichever books you use during your session must be placed on a “quarantine trolley” after use.

Masks must be worn at all times in university library spaces.

More resources will be available online

Ed made it very clear that the university has invested in more digital access to books and study materials. He said, confidently, “Our default is digital first” in order to avoid the quarantining of books and increase access to all students.

As of Monday, eight library spaces and three study spaces will be open. The Hawthorns and Education Library remain closed for now.

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