The Student
Lifestyle
Transformed university libraries: a student guide
by Laura McLay, 7/10/20

I miss the sight of a hundred Chilly’s water bottles. Yes, that is my clearest memory of pre-pandemic University of Edinburgh libraries. Offering toasty rooms, an absence of kitchen-clattering flatmates and the motivating atmosphere of other focused students, libraries were veritable havens of productivity. So, with some university libraries back open again, I ventured into the unknown of the now COVID-19 compliant Main Library. Having worked my way through the new system, here is everything you need to know about how to navigate the transformed library experience.

Whichever library your loyalty lies with, the first stop is checking whether it is open and if its opening days and times have changed. These details can be found on the University’s Information Services website. To name but a few, the Main Library, Law Library and Moray House Library are all open at the time of press. For the nocturnal out there, note the Main Library has scaled back its opening times to 8.30am-11.59pm. (1)

If it is a book you are after, luckily not much has changed. You can still take your book off the bookshelf and check it out and in as before, with reserve books now on loan for a week and books on return being quarantined. (2)

On the other hand, say goodbye to the walk of shame and search in vain around each library floor for a vacant place. Seats, with or without PCs, must now be pre-booked on the SeatEd@UoE app, MyEd or on the Information Services website. You can book one two-hour and one three- or four-hour slot (available later in the day) per day in your preferred library, up to eight days in advance. (3)

Once you have mastered the booking system, strap on your mask – it is on for the long haul until you walk out that library door again. Place your faith in those sticker arrows to conquer the one-way maze and find your desk – identified by the floor, number and mysterious name you get on the booking form. Remember to check in (and out when you leave) via MyEd or by scanning the barcode on the desk using the app. (3) Take a moment to enjoy your island kingdom of approximately four desks to yourself.

Now for the real test: two hours of work. This may seem daunting if your concentration span, like mine, reduced to five minutes over the holidays. Set your strategy with a task list, time limits and ten-minute breaks for discreet yoga stretches. Having a set day and time to go to the library, particularly a time of day when you usually experience a motivation dip, helps creates routine and mixes up your working environment, reducing stress and increasing productivity.

In short, if you are feeling that your home study environment does not quite inspire the desired level of activity, a short trip to the library may just be the key to ticking off that to-do list. Even if the library landscape no longer features so many Chilly’s water bottles.

Please see the helpful links below for opening times, booking and a service updates from all available libraries across campus.

  1. University of Edinburgh, Main Library Opening Hours https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/using-library/library-opening/main-library
  2. University of Edinburgh, Library Services Update 2020-21 https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/library-services-update-2020-21
  3. University of Edinburgh, Study Space Restrictions, Guidance and Support Semester 1, 2020 https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/students/study-space/study-space-restrictions-guidance-and-support-2020

Image Credit: Loughborough University via Flickr.com