Why are we switching on the Library turnstiles?

Heidi Fraser-Krauss explains how knowing more about use of the Library will benefit everyone.


"My students never use the Library", "When do my students use the Library?", "Do my students use the Library?", "The Library is always full", "I can never find any space" - these are some of the things I've heard from staff and students as I've been meeting people in my first months as Director of Information Services. The trouble is I don't know how to respond to these questions and statements, because I honestly don't know.

If you've ever visited another university library in the UK, you'll be aware that our approach of not requiring card access to the Library for most of the day is very unusual. I have no issue with unusual, but our approach limits the information we have about the demand for and use of our services, which in turn means we aren't able to plan, manage, and scale our services as effectively as we would like to.

I have tried in vain to discover why, to date, we haven't required card access, and have received a variety of responses. Everything from, "it's not allowed in York" to "SMG have banned it" but there doesn't actually appear to be a good reason. So, to enable the Library to make the best possible use of its resources, from 9am on 24 December we will be switching our turnstiles to permanent card operation. This means that from then on whenever you visit the Library, you'll need to use your University card to operate the turnstiles.

Photo by Paul Shields

If you don’t already do so, I’d encourage you to carry your University card with you - not least because you need it for so many other aspects of University life including borrowing books, printing, getting access to rooms across campus, and sitting exams. If you lose your card, you can get a replacement from the Information Centre.

Just in case you were worried, our intention is not to exclude anyone; we love the fact that York is so community centred. The Library is lucky to hold some great collections including the Borthwick Institute for Archives, the York Art Gallery Collection, and our Special Collections. We want to continue to share these with the community at large. Friendly staff at our new reception will ensure that everyone can access the Library so that the knowledge and resources we hold continue to be shared.

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