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Main Library Unexpected Closure

At about 6pm on 9 April 2024, the University’s Main Library issued an announcement on the tannoy to all students, announcing that the library would be closing earlier than usual due to unforeseen circumstances. A follow-up announcement was made at about 6:15pm reiterating the message, requesting students to gather their belongings and vacate the building immediately. 


Earlier in the afternoon, students had begun to report issues with the water refilling stations and sinks in the bathrooms, as water functions stopped working. A spokesperson for the University informed The Saint that “the library staff became aware of an issue with the water supply to the Main Library building at around 4 pm on Tuesday 9 April.” The spokesperson added, “Hoping to minimise disruption for students working in the Library, we initially remained open while staff contacted an on-call plumber to come and assess the situation.”


At approximately 6:20 pm, long queues had formed on all four floors of the 1500-person capacity library. “The decision to close was taken at 6 pm, and Library staff then cleared the building and closed at 6.30 pm.” explained the spokesperson. They added, “Staff followed our standard processes and procedures for a smooth and safe closure, and then stayed onsite to work with the on-call plumber so that the water supply could be restored and the building ready to reopen as normal at 8 am this morning.”


One second-year biochemistry student articulated to The Saint that she felt the University “handled the incident well and that the queue was reasonable, despite the commotion” yet added that she felt “disappointed with the lack of explanation, it is exam season, and stress is already high.” The University spokesperson voiced that “As soon as we were aware of the issue, students were advised of toilet facilities in nearby buildings, and of alternative study spaces that were open.”


In response to queries regarding routine maintenance procedures carried out by the University, the spokesperson emphasised that “There are regular checks and maintenance by Estates staff, but this was an unanticipated issue and investigations are continuing into what caused the loss of water.” Followingly, assuring that there had been “no immediate danger to those in the building” the spokesperson told The Saint that “we have a responsibility to provide decent toilet, washing and drinking water facilities, and so cannot remain open for an extended period without water.”


The University spokesperson concluded by voicing their understanding of the inconvenience of the situation: “We appreciate that this is a busy and stressful period for our student community, and apologise to anyone disrupted by the early closure of the Main Library.” They continued, “We did not take the decision to close lightly, and we would have avoided it if at all possible. Estates staff and plumbers are on site today to investigate the issue further, and to identify any work needed to ensure the issue does not reoccur.”

The Main Library returned to its normal operating hours the following day, reopening at 8 am 10 April, after the water supply disruption was resolved.

Photo by Anna Pilgrim

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