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University hopes new digital resources will relieve 'challenging situation'

Sir Duncan Rice Library restricts its capacity to 170

By: Jake Roslin

Sir Duncan Rice Library - Photograph: Jake Roslin

Students on campus have discovered a multitude of changes at the Sir Duncan Rice Library in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of PCs available has been reduced to a handful on each floor with disinfectant wipes provided to wipe down after use, any book handled must be 'quarantined' for three days, and all food and drink (excluding water) has been banned within the library. These changes are in addition to new rules governing movement, with lift capacities reduced to one.

"The capacity of the SDRL building has been calculated based on study space availability in accordance with safety guidelines issued by the Scottish Government in relation to safe physical distancing," a University spokesperson told The Gaudie.

"We are continually reassessing functionality in SDRL and there may be potential to increase the number of spaces we currently offer in the future." The landmark building capacity has initially been set at just 170, equivalent to around 20 students on each floor, with the university's website showing real-time occupancy.

Since reopening in September, the ‘up only’ North stairwell has been repurposed to be

bi-directional due to the lack of functionality of previously only having two lifts allocated for

exiting the building, and delays in entering the building due to a faulty card sensor on the outer door have been resolved.

Meanwhile, the university has been considering a booking system for library space, although with the first week of teaching having commenced, anticipated queues to enter the building

have not materialized.

SDRL - Photograph: Jake Roslin

Students have expressed concerns key textbooks may become unavailable due to the three-day quarantine imposed on them after being handled, special trollies having been provided for this purpose. "We have benchmarked our approach with other libraries across the UK," the spokesperson continued, "Research on the lifespan of the virus on books shows that the 72-hour quarantine remains appropriate."

However, the university has also made a "very significant effort" to provide digital editions of Reading List texts, and the spokesperson said students should find all their required reading available via MyAberdeen.

SDRL opening hours have been significantly reduced to 9 am — 8 pm Monday to Friday and 1 pm — 5 pm at weekends. The ground floor Hardback Café has now reopened during the day, with a two-meter queuing system. Taylor and Foresterhill libraries have also reopened on weekdays, with capacities of 130 and 75 respectively and Taylor's capacity also visible online. Student-bookable study spaces and PC facilities in various buildings are also available.

The university is continually reviewing all the new measures and encourages feedback from students and staff.


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