Why is Hugh Owen Library Level D being refurbished?

Recent feedback to the library from students and staff at AU:

  • “I strongly believe the Hugh Owen Library should be completely redone. Ideally from the inside and outside.”
  • “[would like to see more] Group (non-silent) study areas, with computers. Definition between silent and non-silent study areas. More rooms like the joy welch room that can be booked. Also [more] bathrooms […]”
  • “[would like to see more] Improvement in creating a lighter and brighter library.”

As a result of feedback from library users and the obvious need to update an outdated building, Information Services (I.S.) proposed a £2M refurbishment of the Hugh Owen Library over a 4 financial year period, 4 tranches of £500k. The first phase of the work being Level D over 2 financial years (2016-17 – 2017-18), with Level E & F taking the remaining 2 years of the project.

As a key service in the University throughout the year, it is paramount that the library remains operational throughout the refurbishments and it was agreed that we would start first with the main reception area of the Library on Level D.

Drivers for the project include:

  • From regular student feedback, there is a clear requirement to maximise, update and improve appropriate student study spaces on Level D. The space currently feels significantly dated and is no longer meeting user and staff needs. 
  • The space for staff working on Level D is cramped and the current layout means those not timetabled to work on the enquiry desk remain on view to users. This results in frequent interruptions to staff and a poor experience for users who may perceive they are being ignored by these staff. 
  • While I.S. scored very well in the ‘We Are Aber’ survey, our poorest score was the “The department has visually appealing facilities and/or materials” question for which we scored a 56.7% satisfaction rate; all other I.S. scores were in the 70% – 86% range. 
  • Evidence from the sector indicates the high importance of library and information resources to both student satisfaction and student recruitment. See https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/news/student-experience-survey-2017-expectations-are-high-for-learning-resources and https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/student-experience-survey-2017-build-facilities-and-students-will-come
  • Improving the space and services on Level D, as the Library entrance area and location of the Library and IT Enquiry Desk, would have the greatest impact on current students and is additionally our shop window for prospective students.

Our plans for Level D include:

  • Reconfigure the layout to improve the flow through the building and user access to facilities and services. This will include moving the main library entrance to face onto the Piazza. 
  • Open up and repurpose some of the existing ‘back of house’ areas to provide additional user space. This will include a vending area, additional bookable group study rooms, student toilet facilities and seating for computers and individual and group study.
  • Improve the lighting, heating and ventilation to make a more comfortable environment for our users. 
  • Update the decoration and furnishing to provide a modern and well-designed space that meets our users’ needs.

While Level D will be closed during the refurbishment, the Library will remain operational throughout the building works with staff and services relocated to Level E of the Library and normal opening times unchanged. Please keep up with our plans on the Library refurbishment webpage and send us your feedback: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/news/librefurb/

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