Students speak out on Gelman system rooms

Correction appended

The launch of the online Gelman Library room reservation system is spurring discussion about the best way to use the 30 Gelman study rooms before students have even begun studying for the semester.

Students are voicing their opinions on the new system that will allow library-goers to reserve study rooms for up to two weeks in advance by using Twitter and commenting on Facebook groups and blogs. A majority of the new media feedback has been negative.

“Technology is great. People are using it to voice their opinions about [the room reservation system], but at the same time, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” said Stephen Molldrem, a junior who created the “No Gelman Study Room Reservations” group on Facebook.

Molldrem said he originally created the group in February after he saw a flyer posted in a library bathroom announcing the idea.

“I thought it would be a catastrophe. There are probably going to be a lot of problems with the system. Library staff will be needed to solve conflicts… it will create a disruptive environment,” Molldrem said.

In addition to the potential for disruption of the quiet study environment, Molldrem is concerned about the time limit with the new reservation system. Students in groups of two or more can reserve a room for two-hour time periods.

“Sometimes a group project could take longer than the time limit. People could be getting kicked out in the midst of their work,” Molldrem said.

David Bietila, a University librarian who helped design the system, said the time limit is designed to keep small groups from monopolizing the rooms all day.

Students are allowed to use the study rooms without a reservation, but a student with a printed-out receipt of the online reservation would have priority for the room.

Hatchet reader “Liz” commented on an Aug. 21 blog about the system, saying, “I’d be pretty angry if I spent time looking for a room, finally found one, and got kicked out 15 minute (sic) later by a ‘reservation’ without any warning… A block of reservation-only rooms would be better. That way if you find a seat in one, you already know you’re running the risk of being kicked out.”

Some students have voiced concerns about ways their peers could abuse the new system. Reservations for rooms are accepted up to two weeks in advance, during which time study plans could change.

Connor Walsh, chair of the Student Association Finance Committee, wrote on his Twitter page, “New Gelman reservation system is a bad idea. Theres (sic) no cost if you book rooms and dont (sic) use. Poor solution to study space problem.”

Alumnus Riki Parikh, former editor in chief of The Daily Colonial news Web site, made one of the only positive comments. Parikh called the plan “Such a good idea!” on his Twitter page.

Gelman Library is encouraging students to provide feedback about the new system on its own Twitter page. Bietila said a focus group will also be held later in the fall after the system has been in place for a few months.

“We’re going to give it a whirl… If students don’t like it, we’ll stop it. At least we’re trying to make this easier for students,” University Librarian Jack Siggins said.

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

The article originally misspelled the name of Stephen Molldrem as Stephen Mollen.

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