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Library hours extended to accomodate midterms week

Becky Hogan | Thursday, March 9, 2006

This week, students who study at Hesburgh Library do not have to face a deafening alarm warning them to abandon their studies by 2 a.m. With many midterms administered prior to spring break, the library has remained open for 24 hours since March 5 and will continue to do so until March 11.

Nigel Butterwick, director of User Services at Hesburgh Library, said Student Senate passed a Jan. 25 resolution to increase library hours, making a specific request to have the library open for twenty-four hours during the week of midterms. The resolution also requested the library remain open for 24 hours from Sunday at 8 a.m. through 2 p.m. Thursday.

“We could accept that the exam week before spring break would result in significant use [of the library] especially during peak hours, but we have no evidence that this would be the case as a year long thing,” Butterwick said. “I think we will be looking to make a similar arrangement [next year] in the autumn and then again in the spring [for the week of midterms].”

The library staff will look at the figures of students who have attended the library this week to assess whether there is a demand for study space in the library after its regular hours.

Senior Erin Condon, who manages the computer clusters in Hesburgh Library, said there is typically not as much traffic in the library after 2 a.m. during this unofficial midterm week as compared to the week leading up to finals.

Carroll senator Jim Grace said the resolution was created to increase library hours in general.

“A lot of our peer institutions have their libraries open longer than ours,” he said.

Grace, who worked on the resolution with Welsh Family senator Annie Duna, said there is a lack of “quiet study space” on campus.

“Many dorm study rooms are being converted into quads, LaFortune is more of a social spot and Co-Mo is usually packed,” he said. “I live in Carroll, so I spend a lot of time at the library. When the bells go off at 2 a.m., I never feel like I have gotten enough work done.”

Sophomore Michell Chresfield made use of extended hours at the library several times this week while studying for midterms.

“It would be very helpful [if the hours were increased] and I think they shouldn’t use those horns,” Chresfield said.

Butterwick said increasing library hours on a permanent basis – as the resolution requests – is not feasible at present due to the limited number of staff and the extra costs that would result from such a change.

“It does cost money to keep the library open and it is even more problematic to have the staff to cover [longer hours],” he said.

To accommodate longer study hours this week, members of the library staff have been required to work overtime or work shifts they would not normally work, Butterwick said.

Butterwick said there is no alternative to keeping all floors of the library open because of the physical layout of the building. But as a long-term consideration, remodeling the first and second floors of the library would allow the library staff to keep one part of the library open for study, he said. This would allow the library to accommodate students who need to study past 2 a.m. without needing to open the entire library.

Grace intends to remain persistent with the goals of the resolution.

“We are going to stay in touch with the library and keep pushing [the resolution],” he said. “We’re definitely open to compromise on the time.”