Libraries introduce ‘book-a-desk’

USyd rants success story

Screenshot of the Fisher Library's book a desk system, with the words 'Wow', 'New', and 'Convenient' written across the top in large, red, block lettering. Fisher Library's book-a-desk system (with artistic interpretation)

The beginning of this year marks a period of great upheaval for the University’s libraries. Fisher, SciTech, Law, and The Quarter libraries have introduced a ‘book-a-desk’ system, which allows students to pre-book their desk spaces in certain study zones.

The University decided to introduce the system “based on student feedback that finding an available desk was difficult and stressful when other students left valuable items unattended to save desks”.

This humble reporter would suggest this sounds like they carried out a perfunctory glance of USyd Rants and worked from there.

The booking system operates online — one need only visit the library’s book-a-desk website on their own device or at one of the designated booking kiosks and congratulations! We now pronounce you person and desk.

A University spokesperson told Honi, “desk booking systems have been implemented successfully at university libraries in the UK and South Korea”. Could USyd become the first university to see the unsuccessful implementation of a desk booking system?

Currently, students can book a desk in one of the designated areas for four hours at a time and up to eight hours per day. The University said any further expansion of the system would be based on staff and student feedback.

Your loyal correspondent went undercover at a library* to see whether the system was effective. To my shock, many seats listed as available on the website were occupied! Is this what unsuccessful implementation looks like?

When asked whether there was any system in place to prevent students from taking booked seats or exceeding their allocated times — in the hope this kind of egregious violation would be grounds for legally-acceptable violent upheaval — the University said the system was self-managed.

“Clients are encouraged to speak with library staff if they have any issues with an occupied desk that they have booked.”

The desk booking system is effectively a quick and reliable method of securing a study space, especially during stressful times like exams. It is slightly weird that something as simple as finding desks to study at has become an automated process. Still, if this is what it takes to end the scourge of desks gripped by possessions yet left unattended for hours, then this reporter will submit humbly to our robot overlords.

*In the interest of our reporter’s safety, we cannot say which of the designated libraries he attended.