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The Main Library Should be Open 24/7

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Rachel Van Ness

      Libraries are by far the most common places for students to get their work done. They foster productivity, make students feel smarter, and have helpful resources to help students succeed. Here at the University at Albany, there are three of them: the University Library, the Science Library, and the Dewey Graduate Library downtown. Of these three, only the University Library is open 24 hours during finals week. As helpful as the 24-hour schedule is during finals week, there are many students who opt not to use the University Library because it tends to get overcrowded and distractingly loud during finals week. For many others, though, the 24/7 finals week library hours are a godsend when slamming back energy drinks while trying to write a 10-page paper or studying for a rapidly-approaching, daunting cumulative exam.

      However, finals week is just one week a semester. During those other weeks, are we to assume that there isn’t a single student out there thinking at 5 a.m., “wow, I sure wish the library was open right now?” The truth is, students aren’t just pulling all-nighters or staying up until the wee hours of the morning only during finals week. Midterms exist. Professors assign lengthy papers and rigorous tests throughout the semester, often at inconvenient times. Group projects are a thing. There’s also students who work better at night or get up super early to get stuff done, and those who prefer not to study in their dorms so as not to distract their roommate. There’s also international students who may use the library to contact family or friends in another time zone, etc.

     Currently, the University Library is open until 3 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The hours for the Science Library and Dewey Library are even more abbreviated; both are open until 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and close between 5-7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

     Some of the common arguments against 24-hour libraries have to do with the logistical challenges that come with continuously operating a library such as electricity costs and librarian/student worker salaries. This is understandable and should absolutely be taken into consideration, but there is also the supposed fear that keeping a library open 24 hours a day will foster unhealthy studying habits in students such as procrastination and irregular sleep schedules. As awful and detrimental as it may be, it’s human nature to procrastinate. Ask any student if they’ve pulled an all-nighter before or put something important off until the last minute; you’ll hear more “yes” answers than “no” answers. Procrastination and staying up late are inevitable facets of college life, so will keeping the University Library open for that extra 4 hours and 45 minutes really have that much of an adverse impact on students?

     The fact that the University at Albany is a large public research university and doesn’t have a 24/7 library is certainly unusual. The main libraries at the other three doctoral-granting SUNY institutions (Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook) are all open 24 hours almost every day.

     It’s time for UAlbany to seriously think about the demands of their students and make the University Library be open 24 hours Sunday-Thursday with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Not only that, but extending the hours for both the Science and Dewey Libraries would prove to be equally as beneficial.

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