Currently, O’Neill Library closes at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. During the spring of last year, the library’s weekend hours were extended to make the first floor open to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This pilot program was temporarily stopped at the beginning of this year to gather more data and determine student demand for a 24/7 library service. The pilot program and subsequent change in hours came as part of an initiative from the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) after a number of calls for increased study hours, including a Heights column last November. Now, the Office of Student Affairs and the University Libraries expect to re-open extended hours in mid-October, during which time they will monitor its use.
Having a 24/7 library would be a positive addition to BC’s student offerings and is worth the cost of adding security for the two weekend nights. If someone needs to work on a weekend night there are few options outside of their room, which often leads to disruption from roommates. Considering the workload of a college student, it is clear that students will be working on the weekends for many, if not most, of the weeks of the semester, and they deserve a designated place to do that. The argument behind closing a library on weekends is that it encourages students to avoid focusing entirely on work and appreciate the social possibilities of college, becoming a more balanced and healthy individual. While it is true that balancing work and a social life is a necessary part of a healthy life, a 24/7 library does not hinder this. Rather, it allows students to work when work needs to be done. These students would be working regardless of the library being open, and by opening the library BC is simply supporting them and providing them with a venue for their studies.
The library is open 24/7 during finals due to the increased workload, but a 24/7 library remains important during the regular school year. Midterms are not limited to mid-October for most students. Tests, papers, and problem sets extend from September to November, and keep students constantly working. During finals week, extracurriculars have normally ended and students are able to spend their entire day studying if need be. This is not so during the normal school year, and extended hours are necessary for students whose days are taken up by their involvement in extracurriculars. As midterm grades, in total, often make up around 80 percent of a student’s grade, access to a library is equally if not more important than during finals week.
Once the extended hours are brought back in October, University Libraries and the Office of Student Affairs should respond to student demand and consider making the change permanent.
Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor