Dealing with a shortage of library slots since Michaelmas, the Bodleian Library has introduced a new booking system whereby students who fail to turn up to sessions without cancelling beforehand risk being suspended from the service. The decision comes in light of recent data provided by the Bodleian: in week 8 of Hillary term, 1,214 readers (61%) missed a reading room booking without cancelling in advance and 761 readers (37%) failed to attend more than twice. 22 readers failed to attend 10 or more times in that week alone. 

Under the new regulations, if students miss four bookings in a week or six bookings in a fortnight, they will be suspended from using Space Finder (the Bodleian’s centralised booking system) until seven days after the Friday of the following week, before being able to book slots again. Suspended students can still attend their existing bookings. 

A spokesperson from the Bodleian said, “This proportion of non-attendance was typical through last term, and prevented other readers from securing a study space.”

The spokesperson confirmed that “this will only count if students miss a slot completely, not if they are late”. 

The Bodleian website advises readers to cancel online if they believe that they will miss their booking, which can be done up to 8am on the day of your booking. Available slots can be booked up to half an hour before the slot starts. During a term where many students have exams, the Bodleian urges students to “book with their fellow readers in mind” with the hope that any cancelled slots can become available again for someone else.  

The spokesperson told Cherwell: “We are acutely aware that this may cause some alarm but want to emphasise that we are doing so only to ensure that every student or researcher who wants to study in the library will be able to get a slot.”

According to the Bodleian, the new regulations were developed in consultation with the Student Union. The Bodleian said that Space Finder will also show readers a warning of how many slots they have missed. Students who missed their slot due to unexpected coronavirus isolation or believe they were unfairly suspended can email the Bodleian directly at [email protected]

More information is available at https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/libraries/book-a-library-time-slot.

Image credit: neiljs / CC BY 2.0