King’s College, Cambridge students stage sit-in protest in library after “inadequate” service

The students are lobbying the library to remain open 24-hours as it was pre-pandemic

On Tuesday evening (30/11) King’s college students staged a sit-in protest at King’s College’s library. In a document seen by The Tab, protesters stated that this action was in response to the “inadequate” library service this term.

The students outline in their letter that from the 22nd of November, access to the library was restricted to 9am-5pm on weekdays and closed on weekends. Although restrictions were originally imposed before term started, they were later eased before being reimposed.

They continued that the cold temperatures in the library, due to ventilation requirements as a result of Covid, have created an accessibility issue for disabled students, and that they do not believe access to the library should be “treated as a privilege, nor used as a punishment”.

Further to this, attention is drawn to the importance of the library for accessing physical copies of books and articles, given the lack of working Wi-Fi that is still ongoing at the College.

Protestors have also listed several demands in the letter, including that neither participants nor the rest of the college community “suffer consequences” for the protest, as well as requesting 24-hour access is resumed in the library, the temperature is monitored (e.g., through the purchase of heaters), the library must not return to the booking system, decisions surrounding the library access must first be approved by college council and KCSU and that “access to the library must not be weaponised by the college.”

The protest is “peaceful”, and protestors will adhere strictly to all guidance, other than remaining within the library past 5pm. Instead, they will remain in the library “assuming 24-hour access for the foreseeable future” (until “they’ve finished studying”), or until their demands are met.

This comes after students previously sent an open letter at the beginning of term, also seen by The Tab, expressing “profound disappointment”. This asked the library to remain open for 24 hours and on weekends, alongside clarifying aspects of the booking system. The letter gained 80 signatures, but protestors have since found the librarian’s response to be “inadequate.”

When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for King’s College said: “We acknowledge that the decision to close the Library during evenings and weekends has caused widespread disappointment, particularly at a time when students and staff have been experiencing disruption to their WiFi connection in College.

“We are actively engaging with student representatives with the intention to reinstate longer opening hours in the Library, in conditions that are suitable for study, while balancing our responsibilities towards maintaining a Covid-safe environment.”

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