The following sentence was posted on the Spotted: University of York Library Facebook page earlier this month, “AS/ A-level students: F*** off.” This is just one of the many posts I’ve seen on various forms of social media ranting about the fact that non-university students are able to use the library.
While I have never actually noticed any GCSE students or sixth-formers in the library myself, I can imagine how it might be irritating to see CGP revision guides taking up desk-space when you’re trawling round trying to find a place to sit so you can work on your dissertation.
I completely sympathise with those who have been in such situations but the library is government-funded and, as a consequence of this, members of the public have a right to its use. Surely, that’s reasonable?However, for a lot of us it is hard to be reasonable after trekking all the way to campus, buying an overpriced coffee and circling a ram-packed Harry Fairhurst a few times before being forced to leave and find somewhere else to study.
The main reason some York Uni students feel that the library should be more exclusive is because of tuition fees. I regularly only have 5 contact hours a week so I feel like I am essentially paying £9k for a library membership. However, students do get a free library membership and added perks such as 24 hour access. Because of this 24 hour access, it could be suggested that uni students should just get to the library early enough to be there before it is open to the general public.
Additionally, if getting there before 9am is not ideal for the more nocturnal student, then there is plenty of space available late at night once the library has emptied out. It could be argued that if students utilised this perk of unlimited access then there wouldn’t be so much of an issue regarding non-university students using the library.“But sometimes you can’t get to the library early enough to beat the rush if you have seminars or lectures on,” said a 2nd Year Sociology student. “And if you reserve a space for more than hour while you go off to a lecture it’s unfair on other people.”
Additionally, working at the library at night is not necessarily practical either. I tend to work well late at night but would rather study at home during that time as I would rather not walk home from the library in the early hours of the morning if I am on my own. Having exclusive access to the library during off-peak hours is useful but it does not solve the issue of the lack of exclusivity during normal opening hours.
As long as the library is publicly funded, non-university students have to be allowed access. While I completely understand this and agree with it in principle to an extent, I feel that University of York students should have more priority over spaces in the library.
Perhaps a compromise could be made during peak exam times which restricts the times those who are not members of the university are allowed in. This would still permit members of the public to use the library’s resources whilst making the race for seats in the library during the university’s exam season a little less cut-throat.