DCU’s current library booking system is isolating students

Rebecca Roche

The absence of the normal service along with online learning and government restrictions is creating an even bigger disconnect for students.

DCU Library implemented several new procedures this academic year to meet Covid-19 restrictions. One of these restrictions is that students now have to book a seat in advance through the library website.

Students have the option of booking a two or three-hour slot. There are only two time slots available, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Those who remember college life pre-Covid will recall the days when you would enter the library bright and early, coffee in hand, determined to finish those assignments you had been putting off for weeks.

That energy would soon diminish as you would sit next to your friends and spend the next couple of hours looking for your library boyfriend or girlfriend and scrolling through TikTok, only to realise you’d written 200 out of 2,000 words needed.

It didn’t matter though, because you knew you had many more hours to finish your work before the library doors closed for the night.

The current system is not sufficient, a two-or-three hour slot is not enough for students to complete their work.

As a commuter student, it’s deterring those of us travelling from using the service as the restrictive time limits don’t make the journey worthwhile. For students who are living at home with family, the library offers a quiet space away from distractions.

The laptop rental service is not available at this time and the PC suites are also not open, further disadvantaging the students who relied on these facilities. Unemployment levels are high and the financial burden of purchasing a laptop along with paying fees is a pressure families don’t need.

Normally Cregan and O’Reilly Library would close at 2am every night and remained open 24 hours a day during exam season. The current opening hours of 9am – 5pm is a far cry from this.

UCD’s main Library, the James Joyce, is open from 9am to 8pm, including Saturdays. While the remaining four libraries close at 5pm, students can book a maximum of eight hours of study time per day.

The university’s estate services has also made several other buildings around the campus available for students to study in. This has also been done in the U building on the DCU Glasnevin Campus.

Several of Trinity College’s libraries are also open as late as 8pm and students can book up to 25 hours of study time per week.

With extended opening hours, DCU’s libraries would be able to provide more slots for students, maximising the number of students that could use the service.

Library seats have always been in short supply around exam season, with the university even having to introduce a rule that if a desk was left unattended for more than 45 minutes, it could be claimed by someone else.

The current booking system has amplified the need for more seats even more.

Rebecca Roche

Image credit: DCU.ie