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Your Library, Your Say  

Last Updated: Sep 12, 2016 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts

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We rely on your feedback to keep developing our services. It’s really important to us that we continue to provide a customer-focussed service that meets and exceeds your needs, and we rely on your feedback to achieve this. If you have any suggestions or comments on how we can improve our service, please let us know. There are lots of ways to get in touch and information about how we use your feedback to improve our services can be found in the sections below.

Your Library, your say
Please talk to us… we want to know what you think about the Library and our services. Do you like what we do? What can we do better? Is there something you need that we aren’t yet providing?

You can get in touch with us:
Why bother?
We aim to deliver excellent customer service to all our students, staff and other readers at all times, and we use your feedback to develop our services. You can find out more about how we use your feedback to improve our services in the sections below.
Recent comments and suggestions
Here are the latest comments and suggestions that we have received.

Q. Why does the library block access to the zotero bibliographic website?
A. The Library open access PCs have the same programs and access rights as all general open access PCs across campus. Within some Faculties you may be able to access specialist software that is not available to all students. If there is an academic requirement to access a particular piece of software, a member of academic staff must put in a request to IT Services that the program be made available. For security reasons students are not able to download and run programs on open access PCs.  16th May 2016

Q. Why is the basement water fountain still not working? It’s been out of order for weeks.
A. The initial problem with the fountain was that it had become clogged with food debris, this was cleared and a new pump was fitted, and the fountain is operational once again. We are also looking into alternative fountains. 24th May 2016
Hot topics

Listed below are the questions and issues identified by students, staff and other readers through the feedback form, your Staff-Student Programme Committees, the most recent National Student Survey, Library User Satisfaction Survey and the Library Forum.


Q: I can’t find anything in NORA

A: This summer, in response to student feedback, we developed a new single ‘Library Search’ to replace NORA and the existing Library catalogue. Library Search provides a single search box to discover and access millions of books, journal articles, newspaper articles, audio-visual material, datasets and other scholarly resources in Northumbria’s print and digital Library Collection. Features such as citation lists and virtual browse provide new opportunities to discover related works, and the availability display for print books on the shelves includes floor location, a much requested feature from students. Library Search can be widened to resources outside the collection with seamless access to request resources ‘on demand’ through the Inter Library Loan service.

Q: I need to borrow more books

A: Library accounts have been upgraded for all students and staff, borrowing limits have increased to 25 items for taught students and 35 items for PGRs and staff.

Q: More copies of books on my reading list should be available

A: The Library works in partnership with your module tutors to ensure you have access to the materials you need. We cannot provide a copy for every single student, but we do purchase material in ebook and print format to try and make sure that we have sufficient copies in stock. The Library’s policy is to always purchase an ebook for a reading list title where one is available, and we also digitise thousands of chapters and articles to ensure that you always have access to key reading list material.

In addition, if students notice that an item they require for a module is not available in the Library collection they can let us know via the online Recommend a book form on the University Library’s Information for Students page.

Q: I can't find the materials that I need

A: The Library currently has 500,000 books, 800,000 ebooks, 65,000 ejournals and over 300 databases, and with so many resources available, finding the right ones can be a challenge. We try to make it as easy as possible for you to locate the resources you need, here are some of the tools you can use to help:

And if you still can’t find what you’re looking for, you can:

Learning Spaces
Q: Why isn't the Library bigger?
A: The Library works hard to accommodate your learning needs with the resources that we have, and this includes providing learning environments to suit all our users’ needs. We currently provide over 2000 study spaces across our Libraries and during Summer 2015 we completed work on our bigger, better basement project which has transformed the basement at City Campus Library to further support learning. The changes, based on student feedback, have increased the learning space by 87%, and including over 100 more study spaces than before.  In 2016 we are creating additional study spaces on floors 1, 3 and 5 of City Campus Library.
Q: The Library is too noisy

A: All of our Libraries have designated silent and quiet zones which are clearly signposted, as well as areas which are suitable for collaborative and group work. Our current distribution of quiet and silent study areas is the result of a consultative review of the distribution of services within the University Library. We considered over 2,000 student comments directly related to learning spaces, particularly the need for silent and group study areas. Whilst we can encourage students to use the spaces as designated it is ultimately the responsibility of those working on the floors to adhere to the guidelines set out.

We always value your comments on how best to encourage your fellow students to do this or any other suggestions you may have to more easily define the different study areas.

Q: Stop students from reserving work areas with their belongings

A: We sympathise with your frustration over this issue. The PC workstations in the Library will log off if left unattended for a period of 20-30 minutes but if personal belongings are also left on a desk it is quite difficult for someone else to make use of the space.

So far student feedback is divided on whether belongings should be removed or left, although we would remind everyone that valuables should not be left unattended at any time. This is an area we will continue to explore and would encourage anyone with suggestions as to how the situation could be improved to let us know via the Feedback Form (see above).

Q: Too hot or too cold?

A: Campus services endeavour to maintain the temperature across all the Libraries. When a room gets too hot, an air circulation system sucks in cold air from outside to cool the area down. This circulation system is not equally effective in all parts of the Libraries which is why some areas are warmer or cooler than others. If you notice that a particular area feels too cold or hot for a sustained period of time, please let us know and we will report this to Campus Services.

If you are planning to study in the Library for an extended period of time, you may wish to wear layers of clothing which will allow you to adjust your temperature according to need. You are likely to feel colder if you sit still for long periods, so you may wish to get up and walk around at regular intervals to improve your circulation. Additionally, the Libraries may be warmer at peak times (9am-5pm during term times) when more people are using the buildings. Cold drinking water is available at City Campus from the water fountains in the Basement and on Floor 1, and in the Learning Café at Coach Lane Library. Cups of hot water can be obtained from the Basement shop at City Campus Library.

Q: Can we have more silent study areas/study pods/plugs in the Library?

Silent areas

A: The Library works hard to accommodate your learning needs with the resources that we have, and this includes providing learning environments to suit all our users’ needs. The numbers of requests we receive for additional group and collaborative spaces are roughly equal to those we receive for additional quiet/silent study areas, and our aim is to provide both within the space that we have. There are currently quiet and silent study spaces in all of our Libraries, as well as bookable study pods at City Campus Library. Quiet/silent areas can be found in the following locations:

City Campus Library:

  • Quiet study: Floor 1, Floor 2, Floor 3, Floor 4, Floor 5, Floor 6
  • Silent study: Floor 2, Floor 4, Floor 6 (including a keyboard free area)

Coach Lane Library:

  • Quiet study: Floor 1
  • Silent study: Floor 2

Law Practice Library: All study areas in the Law Practice Library are designated Quiet or Silent zones.

Study pods

A: The Library works hard to accommodate your learning needs with the resources that we have. In 2015 we completed work on your bigger, better basement at City Campus: increasing the learning space by 87% and adding 8 new study rooms and 13 large ‘plug and play’ collaborative screens. In addition, there are currently 5 study pods on the Ground Floor at City Campus Library, and study rooms on Floor 1 and the Ground Floor at Coach Lane. We recognise that our students place a high value on such resources and we will of course take this into account in future planning.


A: We understand that an available power supply is very important to many of our students. Where possible we work with Campus Services to ensure that future proofing is included in all of our refurbishment work.

Q: Why aren't the water fountains working?

A: We work closely with Campus Services to resolve this recurring issue, but we understand from the engineers who maintain the fountains that most of the problems are caused by the fountains becoming blocked with food waste from food containers or disposal of unwanted foods and liquids. We have attempted to raise awareness of the damage caused by this misuse by placing posters near to the fountains which ask students not to use them to dispose of food. We are also looking into alternative fountains.

Q: Can we have hot food/a microwave?

A: We do not allow hot food in the Library out of consideration for all Library users, many of whom may be distracted or offended by the increased mess and mix of smells which would inevitably be created. Your Library is a scholarly environment and you are encouraged to plan your study to include a natural break outside of the Library to eat hot food, if this is your preference.

There are some health and safety issues attached to providing self-service microwaves e.g. if food is heated incorrectly or insufficiently. The maintained cleanliness of the unit can also be a health risk and we therefore consider microwaves should remain in catering areas which are equipped to manage these issues.

Q: Can you provide napping areas in the library?

A: The Library is a scholarly environment, and whilst we provide places for you to take time-out from your studies, we would not recommend that you sleep here. We have a duty of care to ensure that you are ok, and while we encourage you to take regular breaks, if you are so tired that you feel you need to sleep you should go home, rest properly and come back re-energised.

If you are feeling under pressure, or are worried about your ability to cope with your studies, the Student Support and Wellbeing team has a range of guides to help:

Technology in the Library
Q: There aren't enough computers in the Library

A: The Library works hard to accommodate your learning needs with the resources that we have. Since summer 2014, City Campus Library has undergone extensive refurbishment in direct response to student feedback in order to maximise the available space and improve the learning environments within it. Our Library upgrade in summer 2014 included extensive modifications to the layout of the workstations, desk space and seating on the library floors. Most recently during summer 2015 we completed work on our bigger, better basement which has transformed the basement at City Campus to further support learning. These changes have increased the learning space by 87%, with over 100 more study spaces than before. We have also added 8 new study rooms, 13 large ‘plug and play’ collaborative screens, 10 Macs and 30 PCs, as well as relaxation space for timeout from study. If you are having difficulty accessing a computer at peak times, you can take advantage of the City Campus Libray's 24/7 term time opening hours and visit earlier in the morning, or later in the evening when more computers are likely to be available. You might also like to know that you can find a full list of computer locations and their current availability, along with the printing facilities and software available across campus at:

Q: The Library laptops are slow and don't maintain their charge

A: We’re sorry that you find the laptops aren’t charging properly. We ask students to plug the laptops back in when they have finished using them, but we also check that they are charging at regular points throughout the day. We are also aware that many of the Library laptops are underperforming, and for 2016 there will be 80 new laptops for use across City Campus and Coach Lane Libraries.  We will continue to work with colleagues in IT Services to manage a full-scale upgrade of all units in the near future.

Q: I don't have the specialist software that I need

A: We work closely with Faculty colleagues and IT Services to identify the software that you need for your courses, and we regularly review this provision. We now have AutoCAD software on Floors 3 and 5, as well as CambridgeSoft ChemDraw Std, Oyez Forms, SPSS Statistics (IBM), SQL Plus, Visio, Project and more on hundreds of computers throughout our Library buildings. For full details of the software available at all Library and Campus locations see:

The Library welcomes comments from students concerning the availability of specialist software. If you have any further suggestions on which software should be available, please let us know.

Library Shop
Q: Why is the Library cashless?

A: The University Library has gone cashless in order to continue to offer services 24/7 whilst complying with new Financial Regulations. We were faced with a decision of whether to close our shop facilities completely or move to cash free payments and we chose the option which - we believed - would be preferable to the majority of our students and other library users.

To make payments as simple as possible a wide range of cashless options are available, including four ways to pay for items in the Basement shop:

  • Debit or credit card with chip and pin (minimum £5 payment)
  • Contactless (£0.01 up to £30)
  • UpayChilli (via your smartcard or smartphone)
  • Apple pay

You can still use cash to pay for items from the vending machines in the Basement and on Floor 1.

If you have Library fines, these can be paid online via ‘My account’ by using your credit or debit card. Library fines of under £1 can be paid in the Library using either UpayChilli or contactless cards, but unfortunately not online or by chip and pin at this time.

If you need to top up your printing credit, you can do this online using your credit or debit card.

Q: Can we have hot water available in the Shop?

A: We note that many of you would like a self-service supply of hot water which, so far, we have been unable to provide. In the meantime, the Library Shop will provide an 8oz cup of hot water on request, which staff are required to secure with a lid before passing to you in order to comply with Health and Safety guidelines.

Alternatively, Shop Central offers a self-service hot water dispenser which students might find more convenient.

Q: Why isn't the shop open 24/7?

A: Unless notified otherwise, such as during the winter break, the Library Shop is timetabled to be open 24/7 during term time and up to 8.00 pm during summer vacation. It is closed as standard each evening between 8pm and 9pm to allow for restocking and cleaning.

We do understand how much students value the shop, particularly during late evening and through the night and only close the shop when it is unavoidable due to unplanned absence in the team. However, even in those circumstances, we will open the shop as and when requested for anyone who is desperate to make a purchase. If you require something from the shop when it is closed, please go to the Ask4Help desk on the ground floor where the staff will be happy to help.

Q: Can we have a greater range of products in the Shop?

A: The aim of the Library Shop is to stock the items we anticipate people will most want, at the most reasonable prices possible. We have a range of sandwiches, salad pots and pasta pots along with other snacks and confectionery, including a choice of natural and healthy options so that we can cover varying dietry needs. We offer hot drinks, including caffeine free alternatives following feedback, and a choice of cold drinks and fruit. We also have a supply of essential stationery. We do monitor what sells well and often have samples for trial.

You will understand, however, that the shop is very small and you can find a wider range of products in Shop Central or any of the other catering outlets on campus.

We are always keen to hear from you about our range of products and if we are able to accommodate your suggestion we would be pleased to do so. You can tell us your suggestions.

Student Library Forum
The Library piloted a Student forum at City Campus in March 2016. We are experimenting with ways of having a conversation about your Library. The Forum considered comments received via social media channels and whiteboards placed in City Campus Library during the week leading up to the event, as well as topics raised at the event itself. Feedback was received on topics such as your cashless Library; desk ‘hogging’; the Library shop opening hours; Basement study rooms; hot water provision and microwaves. Responses to all the comments raised during the Library forum are answered in the ‘Hot Topics’ section above.
Survey feedback and actions

The Library uses feedback from a number of surveys (including the Library Survey, National Student Survey (NSS), Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES)) to improve the services that we provide in your Library. Based on student feedback, in 2015 we upgraded the City Campus Basement to nearly double the space available, adding over 100 more study spaces, 8 new bookable study rooms and 13 large ‘plug and play’ collaborative screens. We added 10 new Macs and 30 new PCs as well as relaxation space for time out from study.

Here are some of the improvements we’ve made based on your most recent feedback through surveys:

You said... We listened... Did you know...?
I often have difficulty using NORA to access online journals and books Library Search is a new powerful single search box which allows you to search for books, ebooks, journal articles and databases in the Library collections and beyond. There are new library guides to help you make the most of Library Search.
It’s sometimes hard to find a free computer in the Library

In 2015 we refurbished the City Campus Library Basement, adding 87% more space, 8 study rooms, 13 large ‘plug and play’ screen, 10 Macs and 30 PCs.

You can check PC availability from home for City Campus Library, Law Practice Library, and Coach Lane Library online. You can book study rooms at City Campus Library online or through the Ask4Help desk at Coach Lane Library.
I can’t find all of the different materials that I need for my course The University Library online contains floor and subject guides; tools to help you search and use Library Search, and information on Inter Library Loans and the SCONUL scheme. If you still can’t find what you need, you can recommend a book for purchase by the Library.
The book I want is a core module text and all the copies are on loan Our policy is to always purchase an ebook for any reading list title where one is available, giving you more access to textbooks when you need them. The Library has 500,000 books; 800,000 ebooks; 1000 print journals; 65,000 ejournals and over 300 databases for you to use for your studies and research.
I have problems referencing my assignments properly The Northumbria Skills Programme has classroom-style sessions on a number of topics, including referencing. You can also find help on referencing on Skills Plus and through Cite Them Right. You can get one-to-one help on any topic, including referencing, from our Librarians: Mondays 11am-1pm in Pod 4 at City Campus Library Tuesdays 11am-1pm in Study Room 2 at Coach Lane Library.
The journals I need are in the Sub-basement, but I don’t know how it works We have created 3 guides to accessing and using the Sub-basement on Ask4Help Online. You can access the Sub-basement via the lift or the central staircase.
Something not working?
We believe our customers have a right to expect an excellent experience every time they use University Library services. We continually check that our online services, learning spaces and the equipment within them are working correctly and fit for purpose. We work with our colleagues across the Library, in Campus Services and IT to rectify any faults as quickly as possible.

If you find something isn’t working that you think we haven’t noticed, then you can let us know using the 'Something not working?' form.


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