What do you think? - Should food be allowed in the new library?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The student redevelopment group discussed how the new library can best meet students' needs.

library food

The first of this semester’s redevelopment groups delved into how the new library could work best for students. The group covered subjects such as food and drink, furniture and a number of other potential ideas to improve the student experience.
Throughout the evening there were many discussion points raised. The key questions the Learning Resource Team wanted feedback on revolved around what students wanted in their new library, how the helpdesk could best meet the need of students, furniture in the new library and the age old question should food and drink be allowed.

Furniture – Arms or no arms?

Should chairs have arms or no arms? There was a mix of opinion as to whether arms were preferred or not. Students were happy that there would be a mix of armed and non-armed chairs in the new library.
There was consensus that in the main library area students liked the idea of fairly classic furnishings.
With regards to lighting, it would be good if seats are either fixed under good lighting or that lighting is flexible and can be moved so that students can get the lighting to meet their work needs.
The forum social learning space will become a focal point to Oxford Brookes University. It will be important to not try and make the space do too many things. The furniture and the colours of the space will make a difference to how the space feels and is used.

Food and drink

The resounding response for the group was that food should not be allowed in the library. Students felt that strong smelling food would put you off work and leave unpleasant smells around the library. Somebody else eating could also make others hungry and if you’re trying to work, thinking of food could ruin your concentration.
Drinking in the library, students wanted to be allowed drink more than just water. The consensus was for tea, coffee and other lidded soft drinks to also be allowed into the library space.

forum library food

The forum social learning space is next door to the library and actually classed as part of the library’s study area. Though students would have to take books out to use this space, it would be an ideal place to have a snack. There’ll also be vending machines on top of the lecture theatre, this space is part of the library.

Google Chrome books

A Chromebook is a different type of laptop. It runs using the Google Chrome web browser. The Chromebooks function in an online environment, so they will only work where there is an Eduroam WiFi connection. Anything you can do via the internet you can do on a Chromebook – plus it runs Google’s own suite of word processing and spreadsheet applications.
This service is already available in Oxford Brookes’ libraries and they are looking to get as much feedback as possible so make sure you check this service out. More details regarding the Chromebooks can be found at/library/lending/chromebookfaqs.html


The new Helpzone will be an island concept arrangement rather than enquiry staff sat behind desks. Students felt that his was a great idea and would make the Helpzone more welcoming. Students also really liked the idea of a dedicated training area in the Helpzone.
The Helpzone staff are looking at ways that they can help students around the library. One suggestion was that they offering a roaming support, but students felt that this service was probably not necessary and may actually put them off their work. It was suggested that an infographic should be created to help guide people around the library and signpost people to resolving their issues. This should reduce the need for roaming librarians and would mean that a main Helpzone on the ground floor and smaller Helpzones on each floor would be ample to serve the needs of the students.

Blue sky thinking

  • Consider having a space in the library with no fixed seating and a pile of bean bags. Some students said they liked working in a relaxed atmosphere on the floor and highlighted the Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne as an example of this kind of space that is already used in an academic place of learning.
  • Plug in laptop ports to link up to bigger screens for group work, were considered a good idea. This could allow groups to continue to work on presentations with the whole team being able to see the workings.
  • A quote a day as you enter the library could encourage students to discover books they may not have heard of.
  • It would be good if there were places in the library and the forum space for students to show off their art.

Key discussion points

During the discussions some other key points were raised and students hope that the below points will all happen in the new library.
  • Faculties and the library create a clearly defined method for communicating when books become out of date.
  • Ensure plugs and cables in the new library will be in suitable areas. There should also be enough plugs for students to be able to plug in their laptops.  Students couldn’t emphasise how important plugs will be – plugs plugs plugs please.
  • Advertise the Google Chromebooks more and highlight their benefits. Many of the students weren’t aware of this service.
  • Ensure WiFi (eduroam) is able to function well throughout the library.  There are places in the current library where the WiFi doesn’t work particularly well. If the Google Chromebook system is adopted good WiFi throughout will be essential.
  • Investigate turning the self-service machines to silent. Most students weren’t keen on the beep that occurs when a book is signed out using the self service system.

The library team

As well as the attending students the Learning Resources Department was represented by Dave Nolan - Head of Buildings Development, Helen Workman - Director of Learning Resources, Jan Haines - Head of Library services and Lizzie Frazer - Learning Resources Intern (Student Communication) who was also a member of the Student Redevelopment Group last year. The Learning Resources team had just come off an in-depth site tour so they were hungry for more feedback about their up and coming new.

Let us know your thoughts

Do you agree or disagree with any of the points raised? If you want to give your views on any of the points raised in this article or you want to get involved with the student redevelopment group email spacetothink@brookes.ac.uk.

This month’s redevelopment group was with OBIS with a discussion on the potential IT solutions in the new library and teaching building. Keep an eye out on Space to Think for the summary.