Hack Your Library!

Categories: Library
Comments: 26 Comments
Published on: 22 August 2012

With an armload of Chupa Chups and a bunch of camera gear, a team of library staff canvassed the Darlington/Camperdown campus to find out what students really think about the Library. Here’s what we found out about what students like about the Library and what they think would make the Library insanely great (in the words of Steve Jobs). The Library staff had a great time interviewing and filming students. Many thanks to all of the students involved!

What would you say? Tell us what you like about the Library and what you think would make the Library insanely great.


26 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. Imogen says:

    M. Architecture.

    The library would be insanely great if it had quiet study space. Schaeffer is not big enough for everyone who needs silent study. SciTech and Fisher are too open you can hear everything that everyone is saying. This sucks when you really need to concentrate. So it would be best if the library could have both silent areas and communal study areas but they would need to be sound separated.

  2. Annie Selman JP says:

    Positive experiences of the library are dependent upon a number of factors. The staff are integral to one’s experience. Staff who are knowledgeable, cooperative and courteous are essential. Sometimes this is not the case. Other patrons also impact the experience. Patrons who are courteous and recognise respect for others are essential. My best experiences have been in circumstances when staff have been willing to assist and competent (which is most often the case). I wish I had a list of all those people and I would include it here. My worst experiences have been when staff are indifferent and at times rude and when patrons are loud-mouthed and use offensive language (sometimes both in combination at the same time). I find the IT resources are inadequate across Camperdown Campus and this includes Fisher Library. I also find that when equipment is faulty there is sometimes no assistance available. This happened yesterday when viewing a DVD on 3 hour loan in a Level 2 dedicated space. The wide screen was not connected, there was no remote control, no instructions and no phone contact visibly displayed. I had to use a DVD screen which was in the corner of the room which was not conveniently situated to sit comfortably and make notes about the film. Because there was no remote control I could only select PLAY FILM and when the film stuck I had to stop it and fast forward through 30 minute of already viewed film to reach to point past the “stuck” bit. This is antiquated, time wasting and insufferable.

  3. Gaith (Library Web) says:

    @Annie Selman JP

    Hi Annie,
    I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble using Audio/Video equipment in Fisher Library. I can only comment directly on Library supplied resources, such as DVD dedicated players. Fisher Library has, at the moment, three dedicated DVD viewing machines, with remote controls, on Level 3 just behind the Information desk. If the DVD is an Australian sourced DVD (Region 4) then you can also use any of the Library computers to watch it.

    As for the Audio/Video equipment available on Level 2, it is supplied, installed and maintained by ICT and not the Library. We are aware that the main DVD players in those rooms don’t work and contacted ICT about the issue, they are working on fixing that problem. We will also raise the issue of supplying instructions on how to use them and contact details in case of problems.

  4. Hayley says:

    Reiterating the student’s point above, improved quiet study areas in Fisher library are a must:

    The only area in Fisher library (that I know of) that is quiet enough for study is the research library quiet study in Fisher – it is uncomfortable because:
    1. The lighting is either too bright, dim, or flickers incessantly
    2. This area doesn’t seem to be heated like the rest of the library
    3. Lack of toilet facilities – one single lavatory on each floor is not enough.

  5. Rhonda says:

    Hi Hayley,
    Thanks for your feedback. The airconditioning is being upgraded throughout the building. In Fisher South the lights will be changed and there will also be more toilets on that side of the building on each floor though to level 9. Quiet study carrels will be returned to Fisher South and at the end of each floor there will be a lounge area – on the Victoria Park side of the building. In Fisher North, level 4 is a quiet study floor.

  6. Rhonda says:

    Hi Imogen
    Thanks for taking time to give us your feedback. If you visit Fisher Library, level 4 is a quiet study floor. The quiet study carrels will be returned to Fisher South as each floor is completed and at the end of each floor there will be a lounge area – on the Victoria Park side of the building. Next door, the Law Library is also a quiet place to study.

  7. Kyle Doan says:

    At the moment, I find Fisher and Law libraries quite great. Only several improvements that would make them the best places to study, in my opinion, and they are:

    1. More quiet study space as suggested by previous posters.

    2. Group study spaces at level 2 of Fisher library and group study rooms at Law Library are excellent yet at the same time extremely demanded. Not a single weekday you could find an unbooked/unoccupied group study room/spaces. I’d say if we have more of these rooms/spaces, then the quiet study areas would hold its true value. As I can see currently there are still subtle low voice group discussions within the quiet study areas up on 4th floor at Fisher library and other quiet study areas. This might be a costly suggestion nevertheless I still find it essential to take into consideration.

  8. Micaela Pattison says:

    I am finding the new system incredibly inefficient. It always seems that the books that I need or want are in storage. The wait for storage items varies enormously which suggests to me that the storage facilities may not be organised very professionally.

    While the changes may well benefit students who do not use the library for its books, they are making it increasingly difficult for history students like myself to do serious research, encouraging us to give up on monographs and stick with internet resources, journal articles or the limited general studies/ textbooks that have been allowed to remain on the shelves or placed in reserve by lecturers.

  9. Rowan says:

    In my opinion, the collection of books is the core point of the library. Other services are desirable but can be fulfilled either online or through other facilities. Thus, expanding (rather than contracting) the availability of books on the shelves would be the best way in which the library could improve its actual function. While there is a role for study space, and in particular for such space with powerpoints for laptops, expanding this at the expense of the actual collection of books is unacceptable; such study space can be found in other venues built with that as their core function – for example the Carslaw Learning centres.

    Many students may not be aware that automatic subscriptions to buy all new books from the catalogues of many of the major publishing houses that supply the library, have recently been cancelled: this will seriously harm the ability of students, particularly in the humanities, to find a diverse range of academic material that goes beyond the specific interests and knowledge of current academics. Reversing this decision will help maintain the catalogue and thus keep the library functional as an effective system for research and education.

  10. Jodie says:

    I am generally a patron at the Camden Library as that is where I am based. The ladies who run the Camden branch are fabulous, always friendly, helpful and professional.
    Recently I had to go to the main campus to get a couple of books from Fisher as there was a mix up with delivery to Camden. If you are going to say on the website that the library closes at 5pm then that is when it should close as I based what I needed to get done with the knowledge that it closed at 5pm. One of the books was being held for me because it had not been delivered to Camden. At about 20 min to 5pm I was told by the sour, surly (the are probably the same description but for this person it warrants being said twice), unfriendly, unhelpful and uncooperative woman behind the desk that services were shut and I could not have the book that was on hold. I told her why I had been forced to come to that library and she eventually deigned to get the book for me. She then directed me to level 8 for the other books I needed. I ran. The books I needed were not on level 8 but on 6. So I rushed between the two. During my search for the books the lights were turned off so I finished in the dark. I got the books I needed and self checked out and was out by 5 min to 5pm. So why were the services and lights turned off before closing? Generally if something closes at a given time, it closes and then the lights and services are shut down.
    Give me Camden Library and Camden Librarians any day of the week. Never again to Fisher if I can help it.

  11. Irene Rossendell says:

    Hi Jodie, Your negative experience in the Library is of great concern to us. Please would you contact me directly so I can get some more details from you? irene.rossendell@sydney.edu.au
    Thanks! Irene

  12. Su Hanfling says:

    Hi Rowan,
    Unfortunately the Library will always have finite space and the collection will continue to grow for a good while yet – so storing the less-used items was essential. Before the project started we already had over a million items in storage that were delivered on request. Most large research libraries use this strategy.

    One of the aims of the Fisher project was to comply with the Building Code of Australia and standards linked to the Disability Dicrimination Act – this meant lowering the shelves in the new design and also spacing them out to 1.2 metres apart. The Library was opened in 1963 when there were around 14 000 students – now there are 50 000 and the Library has around 1.3 million visitors every year. This meant that we needed more toilets, lifts and fire services upgrades…all of this takes space.

    Libraries are about bringing information and people together.

    Regarding your point about the publishers – rather than buying everything produced from particular publishers as we used to do – we are setting up more targetted order profiles to purchase the books that are most relevant to discipline areas. This will be done in consultation with academic staff. Once again, we are talking about best use of finite resources – this time, the collections budget. A large number of the books that were purchased using the old arrangement were never borrowed.

    Thanks for your comments,

  13. Su Hanfling says:

    @Micaela Pattison
    Hi Micaela,
    If you are having trouble finding items or experiencing delays in your requests turning up please contact your Faculty Liaison Librarian to discuss.


    If there are items that you are repeatedly requesting from Storage we can return them to Fisher.

  14. JT says:

    This video is pretty biased toward what a great library we have. What about the negative experiences? There are always not enough computers at Fisher during the day. Also, how come all the lights are left on at night after it closes?

  15. Elaine says:

    BA (Hons)

    The library would be insanely great and a little more eco-friendly if the library photocopiers had their scanning functions enabled, rather than having a scarce few designated “scanner” Xerox-style multi-functions. The disappearance of most of these machines has made my thesis year quite difficult, and being unable to use most of them during and even after the Fisher renovation has resulted in a consistent backlog of interlibrary loans (many of which are very short term) and a multitude of library fines which I cannot afford as a full-time student.

    While I have been told and understand that the scanners/photocopiers are outsourced to a private company, the lack of these elementary resources makes our library seem quite technologically incapable. It has been a huge knockback this year, and I really do hope for them to come back in greater numbers, even though I won’t get the pleasure of using them much longer: my thesis deadline is almost here.

    Hope everything at post-renovations Fisher settles soon. I think the decision to “improve” Fisher during semester has been negligent on the part of the senior administrators, and hope the staff have been compensated for their having to deal with this.


  16. Su Hanfling says:

    Hi JT,
    The Library receives numerous positive comments from staff and students. Constructive negative comments are always welcome too and all of this feedback guides decisions for future developments.

    There are more computers in Fisher than before the project and more will be added shortly. We are upgrading the wireless to be more effective as the building work progresses. I hope you will also experience some positive differences as the project continues.

    The lights are left on in Fisher at the moment because the builders and other contractors are working 24/7 to complete these complex building works in the minimum time possible. The cleaners also work at night. The new lights will be controlled by systems which are tuned to use patterns in the building.

    Constructing in a ‘live’ building is always a challenge but we didn’t want to close the Library during the works. Even though I know it has sometimes been difficult – we have worked to reduce the impact on students and staff as much as possible.

    Thanks for your interest and comments,

  17. claris says:

    I find fisher to be a very bad place to study. The incessant noise of the hand dryers which you can hear on almost every floor is ridiculous. Also the internet is very slow which is really frustrating.

  18. Betty says:

    totally agree

    there’s way too much talking and tinny little iphone/ipod earphone noise

    How can we study when apparently the library management seem to want to turn a study space into a chatty place?? We have the pub and lots of other places for socialising


  19. Andrew says:

    Firstly, I’d like to say I think the new library design is great. I enjoy the interwovenness: areas containing plain study desks with area’s containing pc’s. The new lighting is far better – no more shadows on the desks, and the general feel is aesthetically pleasing. It’s a far more positive and clean environment to study in. So bravo! brava!
    Possible improvements: 1. Somewhere to fill water bottles. Currently, there are drinking fountains, but it’s not possible to fill bottles properly, and I don’t want to exit the library to do this. 2. If I use a computer it gives me a time limit, after which I must log off for 30 minutes or move location – even when the library is empty (and hence there is no demand for computers). It would be better if the people in IT could design a more dynamic process that weighs the current demand for pc’s (number being used vs number available) and then determines if a cut-off is necessary. Traffic will not be the same throughout the day, and currently the rule is being applied blindly. 3. I agree re: what has been said above about noise pollution. At the moment I am sitting on the 4th (quiet study floor) and I can hear the hand dryers incessantly. Some people are also playing computer games furiously (keyboard is getting thumped), and the girl on my left is breaking up with her boyfriend. If I was stressed (due to assignments/exams), this would be frustrating me. In order to ensure the most positive and efficient learning environments, boundaries must be enforced. 4. Carslaw and Wentworth labs allow you to: a) log on with your unikey (and it remembers all your settings!) and b) print without needing to swipe a card. These are both insanely great ideas! Could they happen at Fisher? 5. I recall reading a sign indicating a section of Fisher would be accessible 24hrs/day, and would have a coffee trolley. This is also an insanely great idea, is it going to happen?

  20. Claudio says:

    Totally agree with Betty,
    And taking out book space to put in social space and coffee carts not only does nothing to fix this problem, but actually encourages students to treat the library as though it was Manning house.

    And while I am happy for the students who are having so much fun with the “positive environment” in the new, dynamic and “aesthetically pleasing” upgraded Fisher, I do wonder whether these are necessarily the qualities that one wants or needs of a library? I use the library for research (ie. books). I now own a laptop but previously used Fisher to work on assignments (though preferred the quieter space in Carslaw for that). These aren’t really activities that most people would describe as fun and coloured carpet and cool couches aren’t going to suddenly make it fun.

    It seems to me that management is mainly concerned about the fun loving student who uses the library as a place to hang out between lectures and whose main complaint is about how slow the wifi is… That would be fine if it wasn’t at the expense of serious students who can no longer get the books they need off the shelf and simply need a quiet place to work because they don’t have a work space or computer at home.



  21. Gaith (Library Web) says:

    Hi Claris,
    We are looking at the noise issue coming from the toilets because of the hand dryers, especially on Level 4. Hopefully, this issue would be rectified soon.

    ICT are aware of the Wi-Fi issue in Fisher and they are working on fixing the problem as soon as they can.

  22. K says:

    Health Science Library, Cumberland Campus.

    Thankyou heaps for bringing back free staplers in Semester 2, 2012!!!!!
    I don’t understand why in 2011 there were NO staplers in the library >____>

  23. Marti says:

    I like that there have been some attempts to make better study areas for us. But the truth is that I have always preferred to use the computer areas in Wentworth, Carslaw and the Language centre to do my work because it is quieter and I can work as long as I need. There are good spaces now, but I still prefer the others. I have always found the library more loud and stressful, so I only really work there if I need something from the reserve books area or if I just quickly want to look at something on the shelf.

    I think the computer labs in carslaw are great and maybe instead of changing the library, the university could have have just built one more lab or converted a space to give a bit more area for this kind of work. Instead they just mess around on the library, which has just upset everyone including my teachers and my class mates and some friends doing research for honors and some library staff maybe aswell. Everyone I know is angry about the library reforms.

  24. Lucy says:

    The Health Science library needs a bit of a make-over. My main concern is the fact that we can’t access wi-fi anywhere in the library (ironic right??), so this means we can’t work in groups in the group study rooms etc. Secondly, there is no phone reception in the library (patchy areas downstairs, but no where upstairs) so in group study sessions, we must go downstairs and outside if we wish to call another student etc.

    The photocopiers are constantly ‘out of order’, sometime there are 2 or 3 working but this isn’t enough and students have to wait in line for long amounts on time to photo copy something.

    No staff upstairs? I may be wrong here, but I can never find any staff to help me upstairs? It would be nice to have a staff member based upstairs to help us.

    Thank you!

  25. Gaith (Library Web) says:

    Hi Lucy,
    We are aware of the patchy Wi-Fi access issues in the health Sciences Library, though there is Wi-Fi, so, if you can’t get any reception at all, I recommend you check your equipment to make sure it is in optimal working order.
    We have been in close contact with the University ICT department, who are responsible for the University wide Wi-Fi network, to upgrade the network and improve speed, stability and ease of access in the Health Sciences Library, hopefully, the Wi-Fi situation will significantly improve soon.
    We have been monitoring the photocopying machines and they are working reasonably well. I am not sure of the period you have noticed widespread problems with printing, currently, this should not be the case. A Photocopy machine might have an out of order sign as maintainers add paper or toner to them, however this usually only lasts for a short period of time.
    Please notify Library staff if you notice a machine is out of order so that they can investigate as soon as possible.

    Thanks for your interest and comments,

  26. Shawn says:

    It would be great if it is made clear that the quiet study areas are not for group work, people constantly do this.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>