The £6.4million library modernisation project has unexpectedly fallen behind schedule, causing noisier and more disruptive aspects of the development to spill into term time.

The project’s current phase requires the use of loud drilling equipment, although the university has attempted to lessen the impact on students by limiting noisy work to before 11am.

A large proportion of the development has already been completed; the new library café, the bookshop, the refurbished core collection, and the study areas near the library’s entrance, have been open to students since the start of this term.

The Information Hub and an innovative automated book borrowing system have been in operation since the end of last academic year.

However, key sections of the work programme are yet to begin, and the areas due to undergo redevelopment in the coming weeks and months are primarily used by students for private study. In addition to the noise of construction, the loss of study space on the ground and first floors will have an impact throughout the library, displacing students and increasing competition for desk space in silent zones.

The first floor of the library is partially closed at present, meaning that the large computer suite and private study rooms previously available at the rear of the floor are now inaccessible.

The second floor computer cluster has also been removed and replaced by a new research area for doctoral students. These clusters will be reinstated in new locations at a later stage.

Kitty Inglis, Head Librarian, said: “We’ve been really pleased with how students have coped, obviously students have expressed disquiet, but we are working hard to provide alternative spaces.

“I am very aware of the pressure on silent study areas, and I am looking at areas that I can designate as replacements. One potential area is the new large group study room on the first floor, but I want to ensure it is quiet enough.”

The merging of short term and long term loan collections in some sections of the library has meant that portions of the library catalogue have been unavailable during the opening weeks of term. Many books have been successfully relocated, and information in the library indicates exactly where collections are now situated.

The next phase of the construction will mean that more books become temporarily unavailable, however library staff will provide a fetching service in order to minimize disruption to studies.

Ms Inglis commented further: “We all realize that this is something that has to be done. It would have taken ten years if it was done in summer vacations.

“The message is: bear with us, do get in touch if you are experiencing difficulty, and we’ll help you to locate an alternative place to work. Students might like to come in the evenings, when it is quieter.

“The project should be comfortably over by the end of the academic year, and all students will benefit from significantly improved study facilities.”

Sally Faith, Head of Library Administration, said: “We are working with the contractor and other colleagues in the university to minimise disruption to our users, and would ask you to bear with us during the final phases of the project.
Additional IT facilities can be found in Pevensey and we are relocating as much desk space as we can to other areas of the library.

“We have also negotiated a Noisy Works Policy with the contractors which limits any significant noise to before 11am each day.

“Users are encouraged to notify the Information Hub or the Reception Desk if they feel that this policy is not being followed and we will take immediate action as necessary.”

Library staff have been using social networking sites Twitter and Facebook to communicate with library users, providing prior notice for disruption and information about the movement of books within the library.
The online sites have allowed some students the opportunity to register their concerns at noise levels.

Sally Faith is confident that the changes to the library will, in the long run, outweigh the current disruptions: “We have been really appreciative of the support we have received from so many of our users. We are fully aware of the disruptive nature of the works, but believe whole heartedly that these changes will provide the university with a library that will provide the best possible facilities for all users for many years to come.”

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