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For whom the bell tolls: A response to Sharon Hoverson’s 11/9/1012 article

I would be wretchedly misguided were I not to begin my response with a wholehearted thank you to Ms. Hoverson for continuing what is an inarguably important conversation for this college with her response in last week’s issue. I now continue that conversation further in print, and offer thanks again for her open-door policy. I will certainly be around to take advantage of it.

That being said, the arguments laid out in last week’s response, much like the library’s hours themselves, prove fairly standard. Hoverson’s thorough coverage of the relevant logistical details is more than welcome and necessary, insofar as those are the hurdles that need to be overcome. The devil, as they say, is indeed in the details.

During finals week, the library is open “late” to accommodate obvious changes in study routines. Ms. Hoverson claims that insufficient student usage during these later hours (4-5%) has been empirically demonstrated, and signifies that permanent extended hours would be little different.

Student usage is a wildcard. Certainly the figures she cites are low, but a necessary concern is the reasoning behind the numbers. The numbers themselves exist for a reason, and the argument requires a deeper analysis of why.

One reason would be that students living off campus are simply disinclined to return to campus to study late at night. About one-third of students live off campus. So while the ratio of the overall student body may be low, the proportion of students on campus using the library would be far higher.

Ms. Hoverson states that there are other places to study on campus, to which the kind library staff would be happy to point anyone. I offer my sincerest assurances that the successful students have found them already. The implication that has for the library is twofold.

First, students find other places to go as a response to the library’s hours. Starting a study marathon in the library seems foolish if getting kicked out is inevitable within a few hours. That makes a very certain math/science building a better place to start working, where the diligent night owls infallibly share solid friendships with the late-night security guards.

Second, if not studying in an academic building or Knutson, on-campus students are then left with their dorms. That makes them worse off, because, while a great resource, even if the study lounges in the basement are quiet themselves (sometimes a privilege alone), they are surrounded by an often noisy space meant for socializing, and are often left unfortunately dirty by other students. In the rare instance a student in this environment can manage to work without being distracted, it will not be comfortably so.

Another logistical concern addressed was finding a student worker to be on duty. Regarding the supply of labor here, whether during finals or any other week, there will be no small amount of students willing to be paid to sit at a desk and do homework late at night. As evidence of the fact, again look no further than the dormitory desk shifts.

The only difference would be in the specialization the library requires. In the model laid out in my previous piece, they would be responsible for little other than general oversight and security — no books would be checked out, printers could be turned off (printing can be done during the day), and understanding other library systems and policies would require little more training than the dorm equivalent.

The idea to leave the fishbowl open all night is sincerely appreciated. The reason my model expands to Serendipity is both for more space and due to the fishbowl’s tendency to get quite chilly due to the glass nature of its composition providing relatively little insulation. The concern regarding a security system allowing only Concordia students is answered by the proximity keys each student holds.

That leaves only the concern over facilities and renovation.

First, the need for a sidewalk going to the fishbowl fire doors appears non-urgent. Save for any fire code requirements of which I may be unaware, the current path from the sidewalk is not unbearable, though in the future it would be a nice luxury. This would no longer prove an issue, were, as I propose, Serendipity to be open, and people be able to come in through the front.

Regarding the security system, installing the proximity key detector would be a trifling concern for such a long-term investment as giving driven students a home for their work. If I’m not mistaken, there is also one already on the front door to the library. Taking my model would only require reprogramming that one to allow all students at all hours.

Finally, that leaves the lockable doors to the main collection. Here’s where it gets more complicated, though not inhibitively so. Assuming those doors do not exist or could not be recovered, they would likely need to be refashioned and installed. Though a nuisance of a project, again, the prioritization of a culture conducive to the breeding of passionate intellectualism calls for it.

The arguments against opening the library’s doors 24/7 are many and pointed. However, they fail to escape what many students on this campus claim to be an academic right and wish to be this college’s culture. My sincerest thanks for the continuation of a necessary dialogue, and I look forward to what I hope will prove a pointed rebuttal.

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