Group asks for extended nightly hours in library

College students often have erratic sleeping schedules, but a proposed change to the library hours would allow students to be use this fact to their benefits and be productive even into the wee hours of the morning.INTERCOM, a group of students representing most of the recognized organizations on campus, proposed to the Board of Trustees March 29 that the Mary Couts Burnett Library hours be extended, either to closing at 3 a.m. or remaining open 24 hours.

INTERCOM includes the Student Government Association, Panhellenic Council and Residence Hall Association.

“We’ll continue to pursue this since it is a need on campus, but, right now, there’s nothing else students can really do,” said Thomas Pressly, SGA vice president. “It is up to administration and the library.”

The Campus Master Plan includes a new wing of the library that will most likely be open 24 hours, said June Koelker, dean of the library, but that will not be for several years.

The library is currently open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays and closes at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights for a total of 109 hours per week. But, for students without personal computers, having the library always available is a must.

“The truth is that, if you don’t have a laptop, finding an available computer on campus is not guaranteed,” said Gustavo Mendoza, a sophomore music performance major. “Besides, it’s good to have a place you know people will treat like a study environment.”

Koelker said she is pleased the library is able to maintain its quality and these hours since it is understaffed. The head of reference position was just recently filled, a new associate dean will start in June and the library is still looking to hire two librarians before the end of the semester.

“I don’t disagree that it’s a good thing to have, but I don’t know how plausible it is,” Koelker said.

Koelker said the library is not configured to be a 24-hour facility.

Since all parts of the library are accessible in several ways, Koelker said, there’s no way to block off a section.

Keeping the library open would mean keeping the whole library open, which Koelker said poses some difficulties. Additional security, desk and housekeeping staff are needed to keep the building open constantly.

“I want to make sure students are safe and comfortable and that they feel the library is a good place to be all night long,” Koelker said.

When the library is open 24 hours during finals week, there is a TCU Police officer always present in the library throughout the night. Also, during that time, Froggie-Five-O runs all night long, additional staff is needed to keep the Bistro Burnett open and a trash truck continues making extra runs to clean up the continuously growing piles of Red Bull and snacks.

While Koelker said that she knows this will not be the case all of the time, keeping the library open 24 hours requires “much more than just keeping the lights on.”

Koelker said she is also concerned that the library will not be utilized enough in the early morning hours to warrant the extension in hours.

Pressly suggested that there be a trial run done in the library for a few weeks would in order for the administration to see if it is truly necessary.

“It’s not always going to be as busy as it is during finals week,” Pressly said. “But there are always tests scattered throughout the rest of the semester.”

Koelker also suggested that a separate 24-hour facility be used as a test sample.

“If we look at the numbers that use the other facility and see that it’s not large enough, then we can consider opening up the whole library for 24 hours,” Koelker said.

Since there has been no formal proposal made, there is still no time frame in which possible changes would be expected.

“Hopefully, we’ll see changes by next fall,” Pressly said. “But realistically, it could be a lot longer.