There’s some very interesting discussion going on over at the fantastic blog Don’t Call Me Miss about the merits/issues of 24 hour library opening hours. I commented on the post with some of my initial thoughts, and my experience of the Information Commons (open 24/7, 365 days a year) here at Sheffield University, but I wanted to write a longer musing here.
For me, this issue goes back to that old chestnut: student expectations.
Students are paying higher fees than ever before. Unfortunately, this doesn’t actually mean the universities are getting any more funding; these higher tuition fees are subsidising lowered Government funding. However, all the typical undergraduate sees is that they are paying more, so they expect more from the service. This includes being able to use the library whenever, and however, they want. I realise I sound quite negative, but I don’t mean to be. Library staff have always had to struggle with user expectations and what the library can realistically offer.
I feel I am personally in an interesting position right now, as I currently have a dual position as a librarian (or near enough…) and as a current student. I can see both points of view (not to say librarians don’t see the students’ point, of course!).
The Information Commons
Personally, I am really not the pull-an-all-nighter kind of person, but a lot of my friends say they work better in the evening and at night. The library is somewhere they can go to revise that isn’t full of distractions.
The Information Commons (IC) is one of the libraries here at Sheffield, and has been designed for all learning styles. As such, it caters for the night owls; there is a cafe, comfy seating, and even showers! This is obviously good in some ways, but I feel it doesn’t necessarily set a good example for students by perpetuating the idea that one should cram all night.
I also think in some ways, the IC is setting an example for other libraries. The IC is often praised for its innovation and style, but 24/7×365 is part of that; perhaps saying other libraries should follow the lead? I don’t know, it‘s hard to make a judgement like that, so I’ll leave it as an open question.