The Library closed unexpectedly today two hours early, without any prior warning having been given to students. Some students were locked out of the library while their belongings were left inside.
Speaking to Trinity News, Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Eoin Hand explained why this situation occurred today.
“A memo was discussed at the Covid-19 Management group today about the spike in Covid-19 cases and the safety of the library staff.”
Hand explained that the memo sought to “pare back” opening hours, similar to what occurred at the beginning of the second lockdown in October.
“Myself, the Graduate Students Union (GSU) president, the director of Student services and the Director of the Health Centre argued different aspects of the memo with the general consensus that the spike in Covid-19 cases is indeed a major worry and a threat to public health, but doing so right before exams when so many students do not have adequate or appropriate study space and rely on the library, especially in the evenings, need these spaces.”
Hand explained that the closure today was “completely unexpected”, he was “unaware that it had been agreed that it would be okay to do so”. He went on to say that “even further, I am disappointed that a number of students, who had booked until 8pm this evening, were not notified about the closure”.
“They found this out as the bell rang and they were asked to leave.”
Hand explained that he accompanied a student to see if the space could be re-opened, so that those who were locked out could retrieve their belongings, which included laptops, notes and wallets.
“Unfortunately, due to how Library Security lock up,” Hand explained. “Trinity Security cannot re-open those facilities so there is little to be done for the students except ensure they have money to get home.”
Hand continued: “A note, written in what looked like marker, was left on the door to notify anyone who passed by that the hours have been updated.”
“A note, and not an email, not even a tweet.”
This incident has occurred just as exams are due to commence next week, on Monday January 11. The exams will take place exclusively online, and will be a combination of real-time “live” exams and “take-home” exams.
Earlier today, College stated that they plan to tell students their plans for the next semester in the next few days, while waiting on government updates, following the introduction of Level 5 restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Hillary term is expected to commence on February 1, however whether students will have more in-person classes next term remains unclear, despite College promises.
Speaking to Trinity News about the Library incident earlier today, TCDSU Education Officer, Megan O’Connor condemned the closure: “Unfortunately the timing couldn’t be worse for students with exams starting next Monday.”
“It is simply not good enough to suddenly kick everyone out of the library two hours before the scheduled closing time and without any warning. Students booked their seats in the library and need to be able to access the required resources.”
The Library’s website still advertises the availability of seats up to 8pm tonight.
“It is incredibly disappointing to see this happen and we will be following up and looking for an explanation from the college and library staff tomorrow.”
The Library has yet to respond to a request for comment.