‘We still need to pass’: Lancaster students on whether first years should use the library

‘We should all get to use the services that come under fees’


Recently, a debate has begun about whether first-year students should be allowed to use the library since students’ first year grade does not contribute to their final degree qualification at Lancaster. With it being exam season and limited workspaces in the library due to COVID-19 restrictions, the library has been busier than ever, causing some students to question if everyone needs to be using these facilities.

In light of this, we decided to ask students their opinions on if first years should be allowed access to these resources, and our Instagram poll showed that 88 per cent of people agreed they should. Some students were happy to elaborate their opinions on the subject further.

‘There shouldn’t be a question over whether first years can use the library’

The university typically has a “first year doesn’t count” rule to relieve many freshers. However, this doesn’t mean every student is guaranteed a place in their second year, as they still have to pass their first year modules. Molly, a first year Law student, said: “Our grades may not count, but we still need to pass”, and so “there shouldn’t be a question over whether first years can use the library.”

She also made the point that many first year students “Have never been to anything in person, so the library is the one uni facility we’ve actually been able to access.” Whilst understanding that “second and third years are a priority”, she made the point that “[Fisrt years] pay exactly the same amount to the uni to use the facilities so of course, we should be able actually to use them.”

‘The library is one of the few things we still have’

Bella is a student from Lonsdale in her first year of study. She said: “We came to uni having been shown the library and the study spaces we can use” since this certainly is one of the uni’s big selling points. Although the social distancing measures in place make finding a quiet space more difficult, she continued that “first years haven’t been able to have much of what was ‘promised’/shown off on open days” and “the library is one of the few things we still have.”

She also further described that putting restrictions on who can use the library would be “so detrimental”, especially since first years “have paid the same fees.” Overall, she said: “People have different methods of studying so to limit 1st years is unfair”.

‘It leaves first year students feeling as if they are being left behind and that their degrees are not as serious’

Jamie, a first year English Literature student, said: “Second years and third years should have priority as first year does not count towards your final degree grade.” However, one issue with this debate is that “it leaves first year students feeling as if they are being left behind and that their degrees are not as serious.”

This could potentially lead to “self-esteem issues, ultimately affecting their confidence in later years of study”, and Jamie feels “there is not a lot of support for this feeling of inferiority.” Therefore, it is clear that the library is an important place for students in their academic development and finding a place where it is comfortable to work.

‘The library is a fundamental part of the university package deal’

Loïc is a student from Bowland college, currently in their second year. When thinking about the university experience, they said: “The library is a fundamental part of the university package deal, first years pay the same as us and still have exams, whether they count towards final grades or not, so should have the same unrestricted access to facilities like the library.”

Loïc is from France, and so when comparing against the free university there, they said: “The tuition fees here include more than just lectures; it’s also facilities and student life we pay for.”

‘Being able to find your best way to study is important for everyone’

Rachel is a first year psychology student from Grizedale college and argues that first years “should all get to use the services that come under fees.” She said: “There is a booking system, and if you went ahead and booked a seat, you would be guaranteed one”, and although “a lot of people go there and reserve seats or just chat, and that’s annoying, but that’s the minority.” Hence, booking a workspace beforehand is an option available to students.

Rachel went on to say: “The library has helped me get a lot of my essays and assignments done as someone who struggles to focus when I’m in my room.” Ultimately, she said: “I don’t believe in the mindset of ‘first year doesn’t count'” since “I’m here to learn and I’m paying for my degree”.

Similarly, Allie, a second year student from Pendle, recalls that “when I was in first year, I built up good studying habits, including going to the library”, and believes that “first years have every right to have time in the library.” Ultimately, Allie points out that “being able to find your best way to study is important for everyone and helps us all learn better.”

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