MAASTRICHT. Too few study spaces, sockets with no power, broken chairs and mice in the inner city building: students continue to complain about the library facilities at Maastricht University.
A memo from the student fraction in the university council to the Executive Board, lists all complaints. The library in Randwijck, for example, has too few study spaces, even outside the busy exam periods. There is also a lack of books: for a block with three hundred students, there are 25 books available. And if groups want to study together, there are not enough rooms for groups.
In the library in the city centre, there are other problems, including broken chairs and mice in the building. It is also too crowded and there are still students who reserve spaces by placing their belongings on it, only to leave and hang out elsewhere for a while.
And then the new study facilities that have been created in the sports hall, on the Tapijn grounds, and at SSC. The general complaint about those is that there is no study material, no books, and as far as Tapijn is concerned, it is much too cold in the winter, it is unappealing and many students cannot even find the building. The memo is not just negative, because the Tapijn location is set off against the city centre library and the latter wins on all fronts: there is a good study climate, there is WiFi, you can use the printer, it is comfortable, and so on. Except for the broken chairs and mice.
Then there is the problem of the sockets, essential in order to keep rapidly depleting laptop batteries charged. There are way too few in various places, or worse, there are sockets but they don’t always have power, as is the case at UNS40 (the Psychology building), students report.
Building manager Yvette Froeling of the university library received the memo (which was discussed two weeks ago in a University Council committee) only this week and promises to take action where possible. Just not at UNS40 “because that is not my decision.” Nor with regard to the other question from students: more eBooks. “That is a decision for the faculty library committees, not for us.”
The issue of the broken chairs “has surprised me, we replace a number of chairs every year, we will look into it immediately.” And the mice? Froeling: “Well, that’s what you get in all old buildings. And because people are allowed to bring food into the library, there are leftovers, pizza boxes are left lying around, our cleaning cannot keep up with that. But we do put down poison and we use mouse traps.”
‘Reserving’ a space by putting your belongings on a desk or a chair appears to be a persistent problem. This has been a complaint - by other students - for years. There is an on-going experiment to prevent this, says Froeling, but she wouldn’t say any more about the details: “that would influence the experiment. We are aiming for a behavioural change.”
Another suggestion by the students was welcomed, in fact, the library is already working on it. Most likely in September, there will be a kind of ‘barometer’ on the university library site, plus an app, that shows how busy it is at the various locations.
The university library’s policy is twofold: for the long term and the short term. As far as the first is concerned, the library is going to work with facility services to create a prognosis on the requirements of library facilities in 2025. Undoubtedly, the lack of group rooms will be part of that. Froeling: “The room booking facility is very popular. We have noticed that there are too few group spaces.”
Furthermore, where possible we are looking at solutions for the short term. Facilities such as the Tapijn are an example, additional learning spaces without study materials, but the students are now complaining about that. Froeling: “It was a conscious decision not to have books available there. By the way, there is a group of hard-core users at Tapijn who think it is fantastic, who especially don’t want everyone coming there. As far as the cold is concerned, the study boxes themselves are heated, but the corridors, open spaces are not. And no, we will not be putting sheets of plexiglass in front of the windows, as these students suggest, as it would be a costly measure. The building will eventually be demolished, so we are keeping investments to a minimum.”
Students, the memo states, have trouble finding the new facilities, such as the study spaces in the sports hall and at the Tapijn barracks. Froeling: “That will solve itself, the new study spaces at SSC weren’t full in the beginning either. We’re not going to take them by the hand, at any rate.”