Information Services

Temporary Study Break scheme Main Library 1st Floor and Law Library

We are introducing to the Main Library 1st Floor and to the Law Library a temporary Study Break scheme to help students occupying a study space to identify when they are taking a legitimate break, and by freeing up study spaces by moving items aside at other times.

Why are we seeking to deter students’ reserving study spaces (‘desk hogging’)?

Student often find it difficult to find a vacant study space over the revision and exam weeks. Partly this is due to other students leaving belongings at study desks when absent for extended periods. Such absences may be legitimate, eg a short break to attend book shelves, use printers, take a comfort break, or ask a question at the help desk; or may take a longer break to consume refreshments for healthy study. At other times absences are not because of these or other legitimate reasons and may be described as ‘desk hogging’. Students in their feedback have complained about this behaviour and have asked the library to help manage it.

How to use the Study Break scheme

I'm taking a Short Break

This Study Break Card allows you to leave your desk for a Short Break of 15 minutes or a Study Break of up to 60 minutes. 


  • If you are taking a Short Break of 15 minutes turn the card round to display time.
  • If you are taking a Short Break of up to 60 minutes enter the time that you left the desk and the time that you will return to the desk.
  • Place the card on the desk where it can be seen.
  • If there is no card on an occupied but unattended desk a 15 minute card will be placed there.
  • If you have not returned within the set time other students or staff have permission to move your belongings to one side of the desk (Library Regulation 29).
  • If you are going to be away for longer than 60 minutes you must leave the desk vacant for other users.
  • Please leave the card on the desk for others to use.
  • Always take your valuables with you. The Library accepts no responsibility for items left unattended.

What are we doing about desk hogging?

Main Library and Law Library are both very busy over the revision and peak exam weeks. We will focus our efforts to deter desk hogging at these two libraries, specifically the Main Library 1st Floor, and throughout the Law Library. We are introducing a temporary Study Break scheme to help students occupying a study space to identify when they are taking a legitimate break, and by freeing up study spaces by moving items aside at other times.

We are confident this scheme will help to deter desk hogging because it was operated successfully in the Law Library April/May and Nov/Dec 2019. It gives a balance between deterring seat reservation and legitimate absences and healthy study.

How is the Library monitoring the spaces as part of the Study Break scheme?

Students are encouraged to follow the guidance on a self-service basis. Depending on staff resources, Library staff would be deployed during core hours to monitor the desks and the study break cards and forms to ensure absences are as indicated. Desks that are apparently in use without a card would be available to other students, as would desks with time expired notices.



Care will be taken to move items to one side to enable another student to use the study space, and nothing shall be removed. A note will be left indicating to the student whose belongings have been moved that Library staff have moved the items.



The space monitors can also promote alternative study spaces when the area they are monitoring is full. This includes temporary additional study space in the Main Library and adjacent to the Law Library. Information about all the study spaces available on Study Space, Guidance and Support - Semester 2 2021/2022 | The University of Edinburgh.

What guidance is being given to students using the Study Break scheme?

Study Break Card

Notices are to be displayed at key points in the Law Library and at the Main Library forum feature stair and the entrances to the south and north study areas of the Main Library 1st Floor. Additional desk notices will be displayed. Study Break cards and forms will be distributed in these study areas. Additional publicity will be given through computer screensavers in these areas, and social media posts.

When will the Study Break scheme run?

The Study Break scheme will commence in the Main Library 1st Floor from Wednesday 20 April and in the Law Library from Monday 25 April. The scheme will end by 20 May. Library staff monitoring will be within core hours 9:30-4:30, or as staff resources allow.

How can I give my feedback on the Study Break scheme?

We welcome all feedback on any aspect of the Study Break Scheme. Please use the library graffiti boards, or use the Comments, Suggestions, Complaints form at Comments Suggestions, and Complaints | Information Services.