Column: Studying: Interrupted

By Todd Swiss

The University has some of the best libraries in the nation; our main library boasts more than nine million volumes of material. With such a mass of resources and 40,000 plus students seeking knowledge, you would think that one of the administration’s main goals would be to have the library open for as long as humanly possible. But, while the libraries’ hours on the weekdays are sufficient, the operating hours over the weekend are completely unacceptable.

As it stands, none of the campus’ libraries, besides the law library, stay open past 7 p.m. on Friday or Saturday night. Admittedly, most college students use the weekend nights to go to bars and hang out with friends. But where can weekend studiers go besides the Union for a quiet study area?

Even the Undergraduate Library, which does not close until 3 a.m. from Sunday to Thursday, closes at a pitiful 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. In addition to being a great place to study or meet for group projects, it is the location of all course reserves. For those people who cannot afford to buy books for class, this is the only place that they can do the assigned reading and homework. To deny people this opportunity on the weekends, the time when no one has class, is a shame and a mistake on the part of the university.

I personally have been at the Undergrad library a couple of weeknights until closing. Let me tell you, it is has been far from empty every time. People on the main floor are working in groups and studying together. People on the lower level are quietly reading or studying. If people are willing to stay up until 3 or 4 a.m. when they have class in five or six hours, just think how many people would stay late when they can just sleep in the next morning.

Some people may say that students want to go out to the bars on the weekends. While this is obviously true, the issue should be looked at more critically. Students do not have to wake up early for class on the weekends and want to stay up late. The options for late night activity on the weekends, as it stands, are not very diverse. Since the libraries are closed, students can either sit at home and try to get work done or go drinking at bars and parties. What a tough decision.

One of the issues that many impede a call for longer operating hours for libraries is the fact that many library employees do not want to work late on the weekends. However, many students work at other places around campus that are open much later than the library. Many of the Campustown restaurants are open until 2 a.m. or later, and many of the chain stores on Prospect Avenue are open until at least 9 p.m. It is pathetic that students can go and study at Borders later than they can study at the library, a place that was created in part as a quiet place for students to go do schoolwork.

The fact that the library is not open on weekend nights shows the state of higher education on our campus. Many students obviously do not want to engage their minds on Friday and Saturday nights, but even those who would like to do so really do not have the opportunity to use the libraries. I do not know the history of the libraries hours, but if they have always closed so early, it is no wonder that students have found other things to do to replace a lack of academic options.

The University needs to commission longer weekend hours for campus libraries. As it stands, the libraries are mainly open when students are in class and would not be able use the resources available to them. University officials brag about our wealth of resources, but books are useless if they are just sitting around in a locked building.

Todd Swiss is a senior in LAS. His column appears every Tuesday. He can be reached at [email protected]