‘Incredibly detrimental’ defects linger as Law Library turns ten

Defects run deep during midsems in one of campus' busiest libraries

Law Library reading room with blue tarp over seats

Three years on from “extensive repairs,” the University has confirmed that it continues to battle a number of defects which plague the Law Library.

Turning ten years old this year, the Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library has regularly played host to machinery and safety tape over its recent lifespan. This week, more than 30 seats in the Turnbull Foundation Reading Room were covered with a tarpaulin.

Water damage, creeping mould, and moisture damage have been the main symptoms of several structural defects.

“There are some defects in relation to the water leaks still being identified in the building, and the leaks continue because as soon as we patch one the water then flows onto the next accessible defect,” a University of Sydney spokesperson said.

The Library’s defects have been exacerbated by its subterranean location which has left it vulnerable to leakage from the skylight at the library’s spiral reading room during periods of heavy wind and rain.

The library’s 24/7 opening hours mean a disruption to students has been inevitable when repairs have been undertaken. Back in 2016, a scissor lift was brought into the library after an extended period of water damage.

Sydney University Law Society (SULS) President Jeremy Chan told Honi that the defects were “incredibly detrimental to students” because it worsened already limited study space on campus.

“The closure of the “cone” due to high rainfall means 30-40 less seats in the library”

“During high-stress periods such as exams, the inability to find a study desk significantly amplifies stress…particularly where students have no suitable study spaces at home,” Chan said.

Honi understands the building company accepted liability for the library defects several years ago. That company has borne the costs of the repairs.

“There appears to have been some flaws in either the Quality Assurance or Quality Control in its development,” the spokesperson said.

The University’s Campus and Infrastructure Services Department (CIS) has, however, spent money administrating and overseeing the repair works, including the assignment of personnel in the CIS Delivery Team and Facilities Maintenance personnel.

Law students are well acquainted with the Library’s defects. In 2017, SULS penned a moot problem which posed a fictional scenario in which a student suffered “grievous injury when the ceiling of the University’s Law Library collapsed upon her.”

“[The library] is located underground and, in an effort to ameliorate its otherwise potentially depressive atmosphere, the architects planned a circular ‘reading room,” read the moot problem.

The Law School’s new Dean, Professor Simon Bronitt, has met with SULS over concerns with the Law Library and issues with broken ceilings and bathrooms in other parts of the building.

After these concerns were raised, SULS representatives were asked to sit on the new Building Advisory Group (BAG) aimed at addressing building-related issues within the New Law Building.

“We are strongly advocating for the expeditious repair of the Law Library and the other defects in the New Law Building Annex” “To alleviate space issues in the meantime, however, we are attempting to secure classrooms in the lead-up to exam period,” said Chan

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