Reserving seats in the library needs to be banned

It’s a waste of resources and just a little bit selfish

Let’s be honest, December in Edinburgh is a bit shit.

Nobody’s going out any more, you’re not getting invited to many, if any, flat parties and the most exciting thing you’ll probably do is waste twenty quid at the Christmas Market on overpriced sausages, beer and Christmas presents for people you couldn’t think of what to buy them. Oh, and exams are looming too.

What a waste

With less than a week between the end of lectures and the start of exams, Edinburgh students understandably spend much of the month cocooned in the library.

That is, if they can get themselves a library seat.

Even with the extra floor’s worth of library seats this year, there’s still a mad rush for seats in the library every morning. If you arrive any later than 9am, you’re unlikely to find a place. It can be frustrating arriving to find that there aren’t any seats, but what’s even more frustrating to see is the number of places that have no one sitting there, and are ‘reserved.’

Now it could be that these seats are empty because a few people have nipped off to the loo. But are twenty per cent of the library really going to the toilet at any given time?

It’s clear that people are reserving seats for their flatmates, friends and boyfriends or girlfriends who haven’t bothered getting up early enough to get a seat for themselves.

It gets far worse around meal times.

People think it’s acceptable to leave and reserve their seats by leaving their books at the desk for well over an hour at a time. From midday to about half past two, the amount of wasted space in the library is ridiculous. Whole rows are deserted by people who’ve not just gone down to cafe for a sandwich, but have gone home to cook themselves a hot meal, have a cup of tea and watch an episode on Netflix before leisurely returning a couple of hours later.

I understand the argument that these desk-hoggers give. “If I get to the library early and want something to eat, I shouldn’t lose my seat to someone who only woke up at one in the afternoon.” That’s fair enough to an extent, but if everyone fully vacated their desk when they left the library, then the whole system would be much more fluid and no one would need to reserve seats in the first place. And whilst not everybody who reserves their seats goes away for such long periods, enough of us do to slow down the system for everyone.

Even though it may be difficult to police, people should be able to move the seat-reserver’s belongings onto the floor if they’re sure that they’ve been away for more than ten minutes. Another idea may be to have ‘library wardens’ who make sure that people aren’t taking the piss and vacating their space for hours at a time, something that other universities have already implemented.

The bottom line is that it’s just a waste of resources having so many seats not being actively used during the busiest periods. It’s nonsensical to have so many empty seats when demand for study spaces is at its highest. What’s the point in the university spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on an extra floor’s worth of library space when we don’t use all the available space anyway?

EUSA and the University need to crack down on the colossal waste of resources so that as many students as possible can benefit from Edinburgh’s study spaces.