A Suggestion from a Potential Student

Received 5/15/14 via email through the library’s general account:

To whom it may concern,

I am considering attending USI this fall having spent a year at IU and finding the environment to be less than favorable for my academic success. Upon researching your school, I noticed that your library does not have any listing of a 24 hour, 7 day a week area during the academic year. I understand that it is a smaller school, and that the cost to keep a portion of the library open 24/7 is less than favorable financially, but I found that students at IU greatly appreciated a location to go on campus that is distraction free and academic in nature at any hour. There are always distractions in dorms, and there is a lot to do other than study. Some people need a change of space to focus. If USI had an area of the library that was staffed 24/7 so that students could go, sit in an academic environment with other students that are also studying all through the night, it would be highly beneficial.

Obviously I am not a financial or logistic expert, and I don’t know the implications for the school if this were to be established, nor do I know if there may be a place like this already, just not in the library. I simply felt I would send this email to share my opinion. I know I spent a few sleepless nights sitting in the west wing of the library, surrounded by other students with whom I shared the pain of my procrastination and coffee fueled all-nighter.

In addition to this, while not all branches of the library at IU were open 24/7, the staff on hand could go and access the closed areas if a student found that he or she was missing a necessary resource for a paper. If a student is working all through the night on a 10 page research paper, and discovers at 4:00AM that another book is required from the library, this student could go to the few staff members working the night shift and have the book looked up and brought to them, even if it was in a closed area.

With the internet as expansive of a resource as it is today, one may find this 24/7 library access to be unnecessary, if not wasteful. But some forms of academic work require older published texts, or things that only a library would have. In addition to that, the services at the library such as scanners, printers, and tech support (in the case of a computer emergency) have come to my aid. I don’t do so well reading long PDF files on my computer, and I need to print them out. If, again, one is working through the night during finals week or because of procrastination, and needs to print and read a PDF, what better place to do this than an environment such as the library.

In short, I believe that the consideration should be made for an area of the library to be open 24/7 during the academic year. The availability of a space for anyone on campus to go to at any hour for a communal study location could be invaluable.

I do not require a reply, but if you do have a similar campus service or would like to present your views on this concept to me, I would be happy to hear from you. This is not a make it or break it deal for my attendance, I just believe it would be an improvement to the school as a whole.

– Name removed to protect privacy

Response, via email:

Thank you very much for taking the time to contact us. Your message is thoughtful and respectful.

The idea of expanding the library’s hours to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (24/7) came up even when I visited for my on-site interview for the position of Library Director, and has continued to be a topic of discussion for students. There is currently no academic space on campus that is open 24/7.  The Student Government Association here at USI agrees with you on this issue. It is not only the library’s resources – the databases or e-books – that people need in the wee hours. It is the facility itself: the printers, the large computer monitors, the study rooms, and the QUIET.

Since beginning my duties here in October 2012, the library’s hours for Fridays and Saturdays during the academic year have expanded. For May 2013, December 2013, and May 2014 final exams, the library stayed open until 2:00 am additional nights during the weeks before and during finals. We have taken head counts during these extended hours and refer to them when planning for future semesters.

Yet even during the busiest times, we still do not see consistently high numbers in the late-night hours, which causes me to worry about safety.   See my blog post for complete information: https://ricelib.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/why-isnt-rice-library-open-twenty-four-hours-a-day-seven-days-a-week-lots-of-other-university-libraries-are/

Because we know this is important to students, my staff and I will certainly continue to consider ways to further extend the library’s hours, keeping safety first and foremost.

Thank you again for your message,

Marna Hostetler, Director

David L. Rice Library

 

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