Library to adopt 1 a.m. closing time this spring

By Amber Bunnell

The Macalester Library will remain open until one a.m. starting next semester. The change was sparked by a survey administered by an external committee last spring as part of a library self-study. The study compared Macalester to schools with similar-sized libraries and considered student and faculty opinions. After Macalester’s Educational Policy and Governance Committee reviewed the committee’s results, they proposed that a later library closing time might be beneficial to the Mac community. “It’s been met with a lot of interest so far,” said Dave Collins, Associate Director of the library. Library Associate Jesse Sawyer agrees. “I think it’s a big win for students and the rest of the Mac community,” Sawyer said. “There is no place on campus with more abundant resources than the library, so anything we can do to increase students’ ability to access those resources should be looked at.” Although the Link offers a 24-hour study space, it does not offer the same services available in the library. “I’ve always felt that it’s a little lacking,” said Collins, referring to the Link’s lack of amenities and need for a D-key, which makes it more difficult for off-campus students to study past closing hours. “I think students and other patrons will only the space, but services such as reserves checkout, printing abilities, bike checkout, etc. for that extra hour,” Sawyer said. The library considered extending finals hours, but decided to keep the 3 a.m. closing time, as statistics show that library usage significantly drops off at that time. The schedule shift itself is expected to be easy and efficient. “I think it’ll go pretty smoothly,” said Collins, who is excited about increasing student interest in the library. “We’re moving from a space for collections to a place for learning, and that’s a comfortable place to be.” In order to accommodate the change, the library will need to expand its work-study budget to account for four hours a week of additional student work-time, but this expansion is not expected to present a significant financial burden. Some safety issues have been raised around the later closing time—in particular, that students will be out one hour later. “The library is always very conscious of safety,” said Collins, who has been working with Campus Security to ensure students are able to get home safely. Because Safewalk also closes at 1 a.m., students leaving the library at its new closing time will be unable to use this service. The library originally inquired into expanding Safewalk’s hours, but learned that library patrons currently do not use the service very often and that students can call Security at any time if they feel the need to walk with someone. And since the Campus Center also closes at 1, Collins says there will likely be a lot of people exiting buildings at a similar time, making for a busier, safer nighttime campus. Throughout the year, the library plans to monitor these safety issues as well as collect data to gauge how many patrons are actually using the extra hour.