Over the past four years, I have studied in the library less and less. This is not because there is a lack of resources, but because the hours have dwindled tremendously, while the amount of students who use the library has seemed to increase. With less time and space to study, the library is becoming increasingly less desirable.
Until just a couple Fridays ago, I was unaware that the library hours had changed yet again. Since I was used to being able to use the library to print until about midnight or 1 a.m. each night, it came as a shock to me that it was closed when I attempted to go there at 7 p.m. on a Friday. Although the number of students utilizing the library may be significantly less on the weekends, it is still of utmost importance that students are able to access the resources the library until later.
Based on my friends and myself, I can confidently say that the study habits of a student are not consistent with your average 9-5 work day, so closing the library as early as 7 p.m. on a Friday doesn’t seem logical whatsoever. While some students may have a “TGIF” attitude and replace work for play on the weekend, there are just as many students who do not.
Allison Chandler, a freshman allied health major who is a member of the swim team, does a lot of her studying on the weekend because that is when she has the most time.
“I have studied there five times,” Chandler said. “Sundays are usually my days that I study, so that’s why I don’t really go to the library.” Since the library is only open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. until 12 a.m. on Sundays, she prefers to go elsewhere, such as the athletic study lounge in the Martinez building, or in her own room so that her studies remain uninterrupted.
Chandler mentioned that the library has an unpleasant scenery that reminds her of a jail cell. I can definitely see how that would be an unpleasant atmosphere to study in!
Sarah Cho, a junior public health major who commutes to campus, feels very strongly about extending library hours due to her “night owl” lifestyle.
“A 24-hour library would totally be beneficial to students, especially to students like me who’d rather study at night than during the day,” Cho said. “I actually wrote a formal proposal paper on extending our library hours my freshmen year.” Within her research, Cho found that the Harvard College library had a successful trial run of a 24-hour period over the course of 20 days. Although the study habits of Harvard students could be a little more rigorous, who’s to say we don’t work just as hard here at UT?
Cho also feels that there is not an adequate amount of space in the library.
“This semester, almost all of the time, all the tables are taken up by students and I end up working in an individual cubicles,” Cho said. “I like to keep things organized so I have to lay out my notes across an entire table, and the library has a limited amount of tables available for students to work at.” Much like Cho, I work better when I can see everything in front of me, which I’m sure a lot of students can relate to. It should be a priority of the university to provide a library that is conducive to the needs of students, whether it is time students can spend there, or space students have to study in.
Sam Marascio, a junior communications major, has heard complaints of the library hours and size over social media. Surprisingly, considering he is a commuter, Marascio doesn’t find much of a problem with the library. It would seem that commuters would rely more heavily on the resources of the library if they don’t have printers or books in walking distance at all times.
“I think there’s enough space, it gets a little crowded at some parts, but there are places to be alone,” Marascio said. He also feels that the library could use a bit of a face lift. Marascio suggested that the library add more computers, since there aren’t very many of them, as well as vending machines for students who don’t want to leave their studies to get snacks and drinks.
Marlyn Pethe, the director of the Macdonald-Kelce Library, has been working at UT for over 40 years. Pethe oversees the nine librarians and 11 staff members who cover a wide range of library duties.
“Duties can range from reference, classroom instruction, web design and support, budgeting, acquisition of materials, processing and cataloging of materials and interlibrary loan to name of few,” Pethe said. “There are many, many more responsibilities of the library staff.” With so many people ready to help students at the library, we can be certain that we are capable of accessing the resources we need. The issue still, however, is that we can’t access them at all times.
Over the years, Pethe and the rest of the library staff have given extended hours a try in order to accommodate student requests.
“We would always like to provide every service students would like but whenever we have done trials with extended hours there has not been a significant number of students that take advantage of the hours,” Pethe said. “There are always a few who take advantage of the additional hours.” If we as students want to see a change in library hours, we have to actively participate in the extended hours trials. If we do not prove that we will utilize them, there is no reason for the university administration to employ more staff members or assets.
While it may be out of the realm of possibility for the library to remain open 24 hours during the week, it would definitely make sense to extend the hours so that every student can have access to the resources the library provides. According to Pethe, with the construction of the new academic building, there is the possibility of a 24-hour study area, in which sexurity would be able to monitor at all times.
“It will be a safe location for all night studying,” Pethe said.
Whether a student is an athlete with a busy schedule, a commuter who is pressed for time, or an on-campus student who prefers to study late at night, it is important to remember that students are here to learn, and it is imperative that we have access to the tools we need, when we need them.
Liz Rockett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.