Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Our busy LRC

Our Learning Resources Centre is busy - busy in a summer term way rather than an autumn term way. 
We are always busy but our 'footfall' has gradually increased throughout the year and we now average over 1250 accesses a day.  Tuesday is our most exciting day of the week as we have over 1500 entries (last Tuesday 1543) - that is a lot of students.  These are not all unique users but the majority of them are and few are just passing through. By 9.30 this morning we had had 274 students accessing the space and 137 of our computers were in use. 
The brilliant thing is that it is not chaotic.  The autumn term can be chaotic especially when we we are doing induction sessions and there are lots of new students.  This is where the management of the learning environment and the expertise of the staff is essential.  Basically if you have a library or LRC which is just a space with books, computers, tables and chairs in it it will not be effective. 
I'm not talking about rules here - I'm not a believer in the 'library rules' syndrome where lots of 'Dos and Do Nots' are displayed and followed to the letter and heaven forbid anyone who breaks a rule even if it is not working.  But you do need a framework, a framework which you can flex and bend in order to provide the best service for students and staff.  The difficult bit is finding a balance and being prepared to let it change and evolve.  Students change throughout the year, they work differently - by the summer term they are more purposeful, they have assignments to complete and they know where and when they want to work.  In the Autumn they need more guidance to find what they want and need.
Learning Resources Centres and Libraries take on the character and personalities of the students and staff that use them and the staff that manage and work in them and that is where we have a responsibility to ensure that it works.