What are the library's hours, anyway?
They are always available here: http://lib.trinity.edu/lib2/hours.php. The library's regular schedule offers services 96 hours/week.
Why doesn't the library offer round-the-clock (or extended late-night) service hours?
It comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. Running the library takes money--including tuition money!--and like all University departments, we strive to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us. We have consistently observed a lack of real student demand for library services and collections (above and beyond our current schedule offerings) that would justify the additional expenditures for staff labor and benefits, utilities, etc. On any given night, there might be sufficient demand. But the next night there may be none. It's hard to staff for that.
What about round-the-clock hours of operation just during mid-terms and final exams?
We already offer significantly expanded hours of operation during final exams week, the only period during the academic term that increased usage is notably evident. Mid-terms are tricky--just when IS the mid-term season? From our perspective, it appears that mid-term exams are scheduled from late September to early November.
During final exams each semester, we expand to offer at least 24 additional hours that week. Offering hours beyond those is simply neither feasible nor practical, for the reasons described above, even during final exams.
How do you actually know that there's not enough late-night student usage of the library to justify the offering?
The longitudinal hard data that we have collected tell us this. Prompted years ago by this very question, each semester during final exams, we count the number of student users in the building between midnight and 3:00 a.m. Although student traffic during these late-night hours has increased in recent years, what we consistently observe is a negative correlation between the lateness of the hour and the volume of student traffic. Specifically, for every half-hour beyond midnight that we remain open, there is a ~40% to ~60% drop in student usage. Extrapolating this out, you can see that by 3:30 or 4:00 a.m., student library usage would be essentially non-existent. And that's for final exams week; during the regular term, significant library traffic beyond even 1:00 a.m. would be virtually nil.
OK, so it's a question of cost, at least in part. How much would it cost, exactly, or how much student traffic would be needed to justify offering extended hours?
We have not identified an exact monetary "sweet spot", or tipping point of student traffic, at which point offering extended hours would be a judicious investment of student tuition dollars. As long as student demand is not actually observably present (in the form of increased traffic), any expenditures would be hard to justify.
What about offering just the 3rd-floor as 24-hour study space?
But what other options exist for me as a student, to do late-night studying, research, or paper-writing?
Has ASR (Association of Student Representatives) ever taken up this issue?
Virtually every year for the past decade, at least. Hence the creation of this FAQ.
Couldn't we just hire our own students to staff the building for those late hours?
With what monies would they be paid, specifically? Who would screen, hire, supervise, and train them? How would they be held accountable? What would happen if one or more them were sick, had a schedule conflict, or had to study for their own classes? (In fact, very few of our student workers plan to work during finals--because they need to study and prepare for their own exams.)
The truth is that the issue is much more complex than simply finding a "warm body" to babysit the building. We take our students' safety very seriously, and believe that hiring qualified, trustworthy adult professionals to staff the building at night is the only viable option. Finding and training such staff can be a difficult and costly process.
With whom can I speak further about this issue?
You can contact Jason Hardin (Manager of Access Services) or Christopher Nolan (University Librarian).