“It is inconvenient that I have to go through the process even when I just want to check something really quick and not borrow a book,” Bae said. “I do not understand why this system is even necessary, because there is already another system at the gate that prevents theft.”
This backtracking is not just the case with Bae, but also to every visitor of the Ewha Centennial Library since 1984.
The current bag storage system requires students to leave their bags and belongings, except for wallets and valuables, at the bag storage to enter the library’s second floor or above, where books and references are located. Students can hand-carry their bags on the first and the underground floors where the study rooms are located.
Ewha was the first university in Korea to start the open-shelf system, which allows people to browse the library’s books and materials freely. While the open-shelf system is common around Korean university libraries, the bag storage system is rare, with Ewha and Seoul National University being the schools having this rule among other universities nearby Seoul.
The Ewha Centennial Library explained that the bag storage system not only prevents theft, but also preserves books, since students cannot sneak in food or drinks that can damage the books. Preventing the carrying of personal belongings also leaves no room for possible thievery among students.
Another problem that students complain of is that there are no elevators available for students even though the Centennial Library ranging from the underground floor to the fifth floor- six floors in total. The elevator already in the library is not for students.
“It is hard to use the stairs whenever I go back and forth between the floors, especially when I am carrying books in my arms,” Park Eun-jung (Liberal Arts, 1) said. “I think it is inconsiderate of the library to forbid students from using the elevator.”
The library explained that the prohibition of using the elevator is a change that came with the Ewha Campus Complex (ECC)’s establishment.
“The elevator was originally for students who studied in the study room on the fifth floor,” one of the staff members said. “Ever since the study room has been relocated to the ECC, the elevator is for office use only.”
Despite these inconveniences, some students follow the system to their advantage without further complaints. Some agree with the library’s intention to protect the books and its efforts to keep the school facilities in good condition as long as possible.
“I always use the temporary bags provided at the bag storage to carry my belongings since I am less likely to lose them than when carrying them in my hands,” Lee Jo-a (English, 4) said. “I also find it rather convenient to keep my bag safely stored at the bag storage instead of having to carry it around with me.”