Milne Library could extend its hours during finals week this semester. The library is open from 7:30–1 a.m. on most weekdays, which has spurred interest from some members of the Geneseo community for longer or overnight hours. The library’s current plan would serve as a pilot for any future extension of hours.
Interim Library Director Kate Pitcher indicated that the library—in conjunction with the Office of the Provost—was weighing two options for how the extension would work.
“One of the models we’re looking at is how much it would cost us to be open 24/7, so we would be open 24 hours from the study day [May 4] until the following Wednesday [May 11],” she said. “The other model we’re looking at is if we extended our hours on each end so we were open until 2 a.m. and then reopened at 6 a.m.”
According to Pitcher, at least part of the consideration in both of the possible models are all of the associated expenses. “It’s always been a cost issue,” she said. “It’s always come down to whether or not we could get students to work or employees to work and whether we could find it in the budget.”
Milne Library Business Manager Ryann Lindsay believes that the Provost’s Office will provide the budget provisions soon. “Hopefully, we would know within the next week to two weeks, because, otherwise, it would be a little bit difficult to organize that kind of change in that short a time frame,” Lindsay said. “Hopefully, within a week—two weeks at most.”
For the overnight coverage, Milne would likely have a slightly smaller staff presence than normal. When Milne closes at 1 a.m., Pitcher noted that the building usually has three staff members present.
“Overnight—from say 1–7 a.m.—would just be two staff members,” Pitcher said. “We want to make sure that there’s enough people in the building so that if someone needs to take a break, they can take a break.” Pitcher added that the library will be “working with University Police to make sure that they do regular rounds so we make sure everything is safe and secure.”
Lindsay emphasized that there has been longstanding interest on campus in a library with longer or overnight hours. “It’s something that has come up a number of times from different groups and we always take it under consideration and see what we can do,” she said. “I’m hopeful that we can pilot some extended hours and see what that looks like.”
Pitcher also indicated a possibility for a regular late night library schedule, depending on demonstrated interest and viability. “We’re going to test it for finals, see how well the response is and then—depending on that—we might even bring it out again in the fall,” she said. “If we were going to be doing any type of full-time coverage, that’s going to have to go through the Provost’s Office.”
The initiative to extend the library’s hours came after interest was expressed during a number of public forums focusing on the search for a new library director. The planned pilot would gauge that interest in real terms and also guide Milne in future decisions regarding the hours.
Pitcher said that whichever model the library uses will be the best way to explore future policies. “We’re going to explore a couple options, but this one makes the most sense because students are familiar with [how the library works],” she said. “U.P. does regular rounds on campus during the overnight hours anyway, so it makes a lot of sense. I know students are finding any nook and cranny they can on campus to study during finals week, so we might as well make the library available if we can.”