The Role of the Library

Time: 16:00 - 17:00

Date: Week 1: 19-23 April


Stream webinar on-Demand

Looking beyond the books: Enhancing the student library experience – Sarah Godowski, Bisset Adams

Birkbeck University is unique: the only research and teaching university in London to teach solely in the evening, making tertiary education accessible for students of all ages, alongside work and family life.

The library sits at the heart of the campus and plays a vital role in supporting student health and wellbeing. Much more than books, it’s a central hub for students to collaborate and study, catering for an increasingly diverse student population.

Over time, the library had become a labyrinth of narrow routes and tall bookcases which were hard to navigate, particularly for those with accessibility requirements. In remodelling it, we needed to meet the universities’ increasing need for a collaborative approach to study and learning: creating a new and improved student library experience.

This presentation will show how key improvements were made, including:

  • Increased accessibility and flexibility, with a variety of study spaces and new one-to-one rooms.
  • More fluid integration with a dedicated room for students with specific needs, improving inclusion.
  • A new library reception, amalgamating Library help desk, IT help desk and library services in one location.
  • Increased flexibility and freedom of choice for students on the type of study space to work in (linked to a larger plan to reconfigure the ground floor and create a new feature stair/ lift connection to the library).
  • Improved staff experience: amalgamating library services to provide an efficient and inspiring environment.
  • Recognising the role of the library within the university: addressing the accessibility needs of students and staff, to create an inclusive environment for all.
  • A new front door: enhancing visibility and accessibility to create a stronger street presence.

The session will offer an insight into the design process, understanding users needs and how these were carried through into the implementation of the new library space.

How could we place the library back at the heart of School, Campus or Town? Dave Judge, Space Zero

When we think of a library, many of us tend to think of a quiet space, walls lined with books, rows of desks and chairs and maybe a comfy armchair here and there. Those facilities are great and certainly serve a purpose but, as it turns out, students have quite specific views when it comes to what they want from their library.


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