Students to Sway Library Hours

Students to Sway Library Hours

This semester there are only 28 days of extended library hours (the library staying open past their usual closing time of 1am Sunday through Thursday and 10pm Friday and Saturday), one fewer than the record high of 29 during the Fall 2013 semester, according to John Cosgrove, Access Services & Humanities Librarian. Extended library hours could become the future for the Skidmore library.

The possibility of extending library hours is a task that a group of students is currently working on. This semester, members of the Academic Council broke into task forces based on academic problems they observed on campus. One of the sub-groups formed was the “library improvement task force.”

 This task force began meeting and working on extending the library hours after Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President for Academic Affairs, Megan Schachter ’17, had an initial meeting with Marta Brunner, the College Librarian.  At this meeting, “we decided the best course of action would be to find out what students would most benefit from and are currently lacking with the Scribner Library,” said Schachter.

Schachter said that so far the group has “done research on the library hours of our peer and aspirant schools and have begun looking into our current infrastructure and potential options we have at this point in time.” The task force has also sought out student feedback on the library hours and services through an online survey. Within the first 24 hours of the survey being released and emailed to the student body nearly a quarter of the student body has taken it.

 The survey asks students about different potential opportunities for extending the library hours and how beneficial these changes to the library hours would be to them. These options included: overall keeping the library open longer, having it open earlier (at 8 am) on weekends, having it close at 3am on weeknights, having it stay open till 1 am on the weekend and lastly having a section of the library open 24 hours.

“Our task-force just wants to do what's best for students when it comes to the library,” said Olga Kanyansi ’18, a member of the task force. Schachter echoed this sentiment by saying “our end goal is to meet the needs and desires of the students.” Schachter also said that “if survey results indicate that students are satisfied with current library hours, then we will not seek to change anything.”

In addition to the survey results that will see if there is a need for extended library hours, the library has, for at least the last five years, collected headcount data that checks how many people are in the library during the last 30 minutes it is open each evening.  For the 2014-2015 school year, the average number of people in the library during the last 30 minutes it was open, on any given night, was 40.2 people. This was up from the 2013-2014 year where the average was 38.2 people, but this is not the all time high for the last five years. The all time high for the last five years was in 2012-2013 with 43.4 people.  The data collected by the library has already played a role in the library hours. Cosgrove said that “we use gate count [the number of people who enter the library each day] and especially headcount data to schedule targeted extended hours.”

“Students, while extremely important, are not the only factor at play [in extending library hours],” said Schachter.  “Extending library hours on a permanent basis is a more complex issue.  The library building must be staffed, managed, cleaned, and maintained to ensure not only access to library resources, but also the safety and well-being of its patrons,” said Cosgrove. Schachter also commented “it would be a financial and administrative imposition to increase hours.” “At present, we don’t have staff to keep the entire library open more hours,” said Brunner.

“What we need first is data on what it is that students are really needing. Is it library resources and expertise? Is it just a quiet study space? If we extended hours, does it need to be 24/7 or could it simply be opening earlier on Sundays?”  With this in mind SGA wants to encourage students to take their survey about the library hours. “The more responses we receive, the more accurate our data [will be],” said Schachter. The future of the library hours is in the hands of us students. Help make the change you want to see!




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