New Pilkington Worth the Palaver?

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Hopefully, most of you noticed that, at the beginning of the year, Pilkington Library’s entrance was surrounded by scaffolding. The scaffolding has since come down and now, the newly renovated library is open for business. But what has been changed? And, after the trial run of the first round of essays and exams, is it an improvement?

The most obvious changes, as you enter, are the new barriers at the entrance to the complex. These require your student ID card, and are there, according to library staff, for fire safety reasons. To prevent overcrowding in the library, which could potentially be a fire hazard, the barriers will stop allowing people into the building after a certain limit has been reached.

Further in, we see that the third level (the entrance level) has received almost a full makeover- the reception desk has been moved next to the door, and the High Demand and reference section next to that. Half of the computer islands have been moved up to the newly refurbished fourth floor and the PC clinic has been given a large desk over where the reference section used to be. The printers now have their own square- though one of them seems to have been removed. Finally on this floor, the check in/ out machines are now straight ahead as you walk in, with new steps to the fourth floor just in front of them. Everything has been repainted in light colours, predominately white. The fourth floor now contains more of the reference section, a quiet working area, which is where the removed computers from the third floor have ended up (plus a few extra), and some bookable study pods and work rooms. Beyond that, aside from a few cosmetic changes, not much has changed on both the second and first floors.

So, what difference do the changes make? Well, in actuality, not a lot. Certainly, the library may appear more visually appealing than before, but in terms of practicality, a lot remains the same. The quiet working area with the computers is, certainly, quieter than working on the third floor- but at the same time, it’s a little odd going up there at 10:00pm or later to do work, and it feels unnecessary. The loss of a printer (or I presume a loss- I couldn’t find the third one) is irritating, and could cause problems during peak periods. But the biggest impact is the new barrier system. It’s pretty irritating having to bring out your card every time you want to get in and out of the library, even during the day- and I can imagine, when the library gets really busy in January, it’ll become downright frustrating to be barred from getting into the library with coursework or exams to revise for. I understand the need for fire safety, but at the same time, I shudder to think what will happen to stressed out students if they find that they simply aren’t allowed into the building.

Beyond that though, it seems that the (presumably expensive) refurbishment of our library has accomplished very little. Perhaps there’s more to it beneath the surface, but it feels like the money has gone into paint, moving things around, and a barrier system that may cause more grief than joy.

Alex Davies

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