It’s that time again

We have hit exam time on campus, which is an ideal time to review what worked well in the last exam period and what we are doing for this one.

During the last exam period we provided the following activities

  • jigsaw puzzle
  • sudoku puzzles
  • crossword puzzles
  • colouring-in
  • knitting/crochet
  • fruit from the Guild of Students
  • Sweets in jars

For the Jan exams  colouring-in, fruit & sweets were well received but none of the other activities really took off and we received very little feedback about the activities.

We also ran into problems of belongings being left in the library, food and rubbish left on desks and a little seat hogging. None of this was major as we still had enough seats for the students studying, but it was something to think about ahead of the next exam period.

Additionally the campus was able to extend opening hours at the weekend in the Jan exams and at a Student Library Partnership meeting this was highlighted as the most important thing we could provide in the coming months.

In the intervening months, the jigsaw was suddenly opened and at breaks between lectures, small groups of students could be seen playing with the jigsaw. Just before the exams it was finished,  and there was demand to provide a new one.

So how did we approach this exam period?

All of the exam activities are under a heading of Take a Break, combining the activities that worked well, the new interest in jigsaws and wanting the manage the space better for all students.



  • 2 new jigsaws have been purchased and a 3D puzzle of a London bus.
  • Fortune tellers – print outs to make their own little origami fortune tellers
  • Knitting
  • Colouring-in
  • Sudoku puzzles

Food and Drink

Sweets have been purchased for the sweetie jars and we are waiting to hear from the Guild if they will be providing fruit, although this is likely to be in the main University exam period which starts later than our campus. On a good week (when I have time in the morning) there is also cake in the library.

Taking the lead from our main campus in Liverpool we are giving away Golden Tickets. These tickets are a voucher for one free regular hot drink at the campus cafe and we have 50 vouchers over the 5 week exam period. There are tickets that are hidden in the library and some tickets will be given out in response the tweets and WeChat messages.

golden ticket

The main campus have extended the Golden Ticket giveaway for this exam period and I’m looking forward to finding out how their new golden tickets are received.

Extended opening

Extended opening at the weekends is back and for the whole 5 weeks of the exam period which is great for the students and hopefully the numbers of students here at the weekend and the positive feedback will demonstrate that this is well received by the students.


Inspired by University of Sheffield library we are trialling a Take a Break Pass.Take a Break Pass

The students can ask for the pass to put on their study space giving them 45 minutes to have a break. This is especially useful as the students are using study spaces that can be booked by staff and students, so helps us manage bookings, provide the students with the study space they prefer and make sure that they take breaks.

Have we got it right?

Well it is still early days, but one week into the exam period and we’ve had an additional two jigsaws finished with requests for more and requests for more sudoku puzzles. The fortune tellers just went out on Friday and I came back on Monday to little piles of fortune tellers scattered in the social space. I’m not sure there is the same enthusiasm for colouring-in, but there is the odd knitter taking a break. It’s a complete change around from the first exam period.

Take up of Golden Tickets was initially slow as the students didn’t realise what they were for, but there is huge enthusiasm for them now, new tickets get snapped up pretty quick. The best take up has been from the tickets we hide them in the library, rather than students interacting with us on social media, but we are using both methods to make sure a cross-section of students can get one of these vouchers.

The students have also been writing their ideas on the feedback wall, perhaps not surprisingly these revolve around hot water and food. This isn’t something we can provide in our library space, but perhaps it is something that could be provided at the campus in other areas, so we have passed this onto the campus team.

Additionally,  it seems that more libraries are providing activities for students in this exam period so there is plenty of inspiration at the moment. I’m very taken with the idea of a chess board as inspired by @UCLSSEESLibrary and I do wonder about lego or other model making toys which might have a bit of the jigsaw appeal but can be reused more than the jigsaws can.

So, what exam activities are taking place at your library?