Thank you, Jacob, for contributing the article “Realizing an academic right” in the November 2, 2012 Concordian. Your concern for stronger support for the intellectual life of hard-working students is commendable and connecting that concern with the library is manna from heaven for library staff. Part of the library’s strategic plan is to provide a safe, welcoming environment for all our patrons and to encourage usage of our library. We are delighted to hear that students want to expand library hours to study and become better students.
The request from students to keep the library open additional hours is one that occurs every two or three years. Usually the request is made from members of the Student Government Association directly to the Library Director. We always have taken these requests seriously and have met with campus personnel about this issue. Jacob, in the article, you mention several reasons why it is difficult to have the library open 24/7 and gave your opinion how these could be overcome. I would like to address these issues.
Several years ago students requested that the library have longer hours during the week of final exams. We are now open two nights until 2:00 am during exams. Unfortunately, the number of students who take advantage of these additional hours is small. Fall semester 2010/11, 73 students were in the library during those two nights; and in the spring, 38 students took advantage of those additional hours. Last academic year 160 students studied in the library the four nights the library was open late. For those two years that is approximately 4-5 % of the student body. That is indeed a low number.
It would also be difficult to have both the mezzanine and the fishbowl open twenty-four hours. It would require adding lockable doors to the two entries to the reference area. It would require a trained student worker to be on duty, someone who understands our library system and policies. Currently it is difficult to find students to work late during exam week. It would be a significant challenge for us to staff 24/7. To only have a student monitor would deny what we feel are essential services, (i.e., printing help, color printing, answering directional questions, etc.). If students are looking for a place to study or a place to “plug in” we can recommend other buildings across campus that could provide those services.
This past summer we seriously considered having the fishbowl open all night. We could lock the inside doors to the fishbowl and students could use the fire door to enter and exit. This would require a security system that would allow only members of the Concordia community to enter and exit. The fire door entrance would require a sidewalk leading to and from the door and it would have to be maintained.
If students could guarantee significantly higher usage, let’s talk. We must keep in mind that there would be renovation needed; that would take some time and other campus offices must be involved in the discussion (i.e., Campus Security, Facilities Management, Information Technology and the Academic Affairs office).
Again, it is gratifying to know that you are advocating for expanded hours. We agree in principal; however, there are practical considerations. My door is always open.
This letter to the editor was submitted by Sharon Hoverson, library director at Concordia College.