Library hours not extended for finals week


Senior Kelsey Hughes

Senior Kelsey Hughes studies genetics in the bottom floor of Tarver Library. The library will not be open 24/7 for exams week this semester. (Sean Kennedy/THE CLUSTER)

Jack Tarver Library will not be open 24 hours during finals week, and the library will maintain its regular exam week schedule.

In response to a request from the Student Government Association, Tarver provided 24-hour access to the library during last semester’s exam week.

“During finals last year, we opened on 2:00 on Sunday and did not close until 8:00 on that Saturday. SGA student volunteers helped from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. but only two of us provided the rest of the coverage from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.,” said Theresa Rhodes, Associate Director for Public Services and Collections.

The pilot project concept was raised in April of 2010 and conversations were held through early December before the decision was made to proceed with the extended hours.

After looking at the data from last semester’s pilot project, the Tarver staff decided to cut back the hours and return to their normal exam week schedule.

An extensive report of data was made and Rhodes provided a narrative.

The report explained that three measurement devices were used to determine the library occupancy from midnight to 7:30 a.m. every day.

Gate counts were taken at the top of every hour between midnight and 7:30 a.m. The count registered every time a student entered and left the building and was divided by two.

A head count was also taken at the bottom of each hour until 7:30 a.m. This made for a more accurate count of students observed in the building during the night hours.

Bear Cards were also swiped and determined how many students took advantage of the extra hours. At the time the library would normally close, a Mercer Police officer was located by the entrance gates and swiped student cards. This was a security measure to prevent non-students from entering the library.

Rhodes explained that the gate count was inaccurate and counted students coming and going. It had to be divided by two, but the number was off. “Swiping was the more accurate measure of how many students came and went during the extended hours,” said Rhodes.

Students who entered the library before the extended hours began were not swiped but were still included in the head counts at the bottom of every hour.

The resulting data showed that for the entire week there was a gate count of 577 with a head count of 1,281 students. Only 315 Bear Cards were swiped and of those 174 unique Bear Cards were swiped.

Based on the total fall enrollment of 4,053 students, the library’s data showed that only eight percent of students took advantage of the extended hours and only four percent came to the library at least once during the extended period from midnight to 7:30 a.m.

The highest number of students counted – 359 – was counted at midnight, but the number of students did not increase throughout the morning. The only change occurred between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., which was attributed to the fact that Tarver is generally open by 7:30 a.m. each morning.

Based on this data and other factors, the decision was made to not continue the extended hours for the spring semester.

Other factors influencing the decision were the disruption in staff schedules, the cost and benefit during lean budget times, and the Academic Resource Center’s 24-hour services during finals.

The decision is not negotiable this semester. The data showed that few students used the extended hours but many feel as though it is needed.

“I feel like if it is for finals week, people have many exams they have to study for so they should keep the library open 24/7. It has the resources people need, especially if they need a computer, and it is a good place to meet up,” said senior Katie Wibell.

Sophomore Julie Allen said she did not usually go to Tarver, but would consider going if she knew it was open 24 hours during exam week.

“I feel that it is a real inconvenience for a lot of students,” said Allen.

Senior Johnta Tigner said he preferred to study in the library rather than his apartment.

“When I need to study the library is where I go. If you don’t have a choice but to study, it is better to study there instead of an apartment where there are so many distractions,” said Tigner.

Sophomore Kevin Moboalde said she took advantage of the 24-hour services last semester

“It was really great having it open last year. It was a bigger space and I was there so much. It was definitely a good thing to have it open,” said Moboalde.

Although there will be no extended hours this semester, another recommendation was made to secure the funds to expand the 24-hour study room by an additional 800 square feet to meet the need for overnight library spaces for students.