Update, 26 November 2012: We’ve heard from the Library that there will be more computers available from semester two. Heather Wells, Head of User Services, said: “The Library recognises the value of Facebook in terms of supporting teaching and learning”.

The library is to trial a block of Facebook on the first floor computers from January next year until the end of the spring semester in March.

The pilot comes following a number of surveys and after the issue was raised in meetings of the Student Affairs Group committee.

A total of 55 computers will be unable to access Facebook during the trial, and Heather Wells, the Head of User Services at UEA is hopeful it can have a positive impact for students wishing to use library computers to do academic work.

She said: “I would hope that there will be at least one area in the library where people will go and they will know that it an area that needs to be used for academic purposes rather than leisure use of the computers.

“Hopefully we’ll be better able to meet the demand for students wanting to use a computer on campus for their academic work.”

It is highly unlikely that the scheme will be rolled out across the entire library, even if the trial period is deemed to be successful, but Ms. Wells was keen to emphasise that such a decision will only be taken after consulting with the student population.

She added: “The library tries to be very responsive to students. We wouldn’t make any decision on [extending the scheme] without running that past the whole of the University community, in particular the students.

“I believe some Schools might use Facebook as a means of contacting students or as part of academic work. There are legitimate uses for Facebook other than just leisure.

“We’re always trying to find a balance between using computers for leisure use and trying to provide students with what they need to complete their academic studies. We’re always stuck in the middle.

“We’d like to get a good understanding of how it’s received certainly before Easter, as once we get to Easter we’ve got the key assessment period, when there’s real heavy demand on the library’s resources.”

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