It’s that time of year again, when the Custodians at the Faculty of Music wheel into the Pendlebury Library an ominously large, locked box with a posting flap in the lid. First year undergraduates will not have met this contraption before, but will soon be made aware of its presence by the Self-Issue machine.
This is where undergraduates must submit their required coursework to strict deadlines. These can be Composition portfolios, Extended Essays, Dissertations etc. From the end of April and throughout May each year there are a number of deadlines, with the Drop Box flap being locked at 14:00 precisely on the day in question. Those who arrive after 14:00 can be subject to loss of marks (we have the countdown clock icon from Greenwich displayed on the Issue Desk computer so that no-one can complain that our various library clocks are wrong!)
If all this sounds a bit draconian, Pendlebury Library staff are on hand to offer help. Students can be seen requesting elastic bands, paper clips, use of staplers, folders to keep together their compositions, sticky labels to write their candidate numbers on etc. in a busy 30 minutes leading up to the deadline. Often we have to remind them of the fast approaching deadline, whilst they are desperately trying to erase and rewrite, or staple their cover sheets to their portfolio. Usually there are a few last minute emergencies, such as getting their composition jammed in a hole punch. Some are quite calm and get their friends to take photos of them posting in their work, … others can be panicking and flustered, so there’s always reassurance and even a box of tissues on hand!
Mostly they will have had plenty of time to prepare and submit their work. The exception to this is the Tonal Skills paper for the first year students, which they must collect from 10:00 on the appointed day from the Faculty Office, and complete and submit by 14:00 the following day. With just 28 hours to do this, it often necessitates staying up most of the night, so we have some very sleep-deprived students arriving at the Library … in one case a student ran in at 13:55 in his pyjamas, dressing gown flapping and slippers!
It’s certainly a busy time of year in the Pendlebury Library. It’s a good way for the library to be a focal point of the Faculty, and we find the number of people through our doors increases dramatically. Plus we finally get to see the (few) undergraduates who never otherwise seem to set foot in the library.