Wolfson medical library opening hours to be cut by 64%


Oliver Milne

Glasgow University’s Students Representative Council (GUSRC) have expressed anger at a decision by the University to reduce the opening hours of the Wolfson Medical School Library by 64% to 60 hours per week without engaging in a consultation with the students or staff affected.

The Wolfson Medical School Library – which is currently open 168 hours a week – will move to reduced opening hours of 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday. GUSRC argue that this decision will likely impact on many students who find it difficult to access the facilities during more traditional working hours as a result of the busy schedule medics experience as the result of long periods of time on placement.

GUSRC issued a statement strongly condemning the decision. President James Harrison, said:

‘Students in the medical school already have a very large workload, and with the large increase in fees for RUK students about to take place, a 64% cut to their access of study space is simply unacceptable. The student experience at the university will be damaged if these proposals go ahead. We call on the university to rethink its plans and stop this drastic reduction in opening hours’.

Edinburgh University’s Library – which contains their medical collections – is open for student access 24 hours a day. However medical libraries at Dundee University and Aberdeen University are open for fewer hours a week; 95 and 91 respectively.

Jake Liu, a second year medical student, expressed his concerns to the Glasgow Guardian saying:

“I’ve used the Library until the early hours of the morning on a number of occasions. Having the option of going to a quiet focussed place where I would have access to all the resources I need has been really important. I think it will have an a negative effect as the Wolfson Library has always been quite busy after 8pm, especially at exam time. I can’t see this decision being a good thing”

A spokesperson for the University told the Guardian that the main university library “contains all the books found in the School Library” and that the decision reflected a change in the amount of hours students had access to the main library, which had increased substantially since the Wolfson’s opening. They went on to say:

The decision to change the opening hours of the Medical School Library was not taken lightly. A number of factors contributed to the process, including complaints from students about the behavior of other students during periods of unsupervised access.

The solution that has now been proposed should enhance the quality of service provided to all Medical School students. While the School library will no longer offer unsupervised access overnight, the School intends to extend the supervised hours from 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Friday. These opening times will also apply to the clinical skills and teaching rooms for small groups of students. This represents an additional investment by the School and ensures that, when the library is open, it provides a better environment for students.

A further meeting to discuss the plans for the School library is being held on 24 August and the Medical School would be happy for a representative of the SRC to attend that meeting.”

Glasgow University’s medical school currently holds a student satisfaction rating of 64%, according to figures in the 2011 National Student Survey, which puts it at the lowest in Scotland. In fact,it puts Glasgow far behind Edinburgh University’s School Of Medicine where students report a 93% satisfaction rate, not to mention the departments at Dundee, Aberdeen and St Andrews which all have student satisfaction rates in the 90-93% range.

GUSRC have started a petition to stop the changes in the opening hours, which is available to view here.

Update, 14 August 2012: After the campaign launched by the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), the decision to cut Wolfson Medical School library opening hours has been reversed. Full comment from the SRC can be found here.