24-Hour Study Space Fails

Caitlin Holbrook

For many students and faculty, the completion of the Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology meant the expected return of twenty-four hour study space during exam week, just as the old library had provided in the past. Last semester, to many students’ chagrin, the availability of 24-hour study space posed some problems.

The original plan for accessing 24-hour spaces was that students would enter through level three, by the James B. Colgate Hall parking lot, where the card ID readers were placed, and travel by elevator up to level five, where specific areas would be available for students’ use. Unfortunately, requiring that students use two floors to reach the study space also meant that more staffing would be necessary.

Instead of hiring between one and two additional full time equivalent (FTE) staff to work the 54 hours that the library is normally closed during the week, utilizing two levels meant three FTE workers had to be hired in order to staff both levels three and five.

“We always had problems getting staff to work the off hours [2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.],” University Librarian and Professor in the University Libraries Joanne Schneider said, “and now that we needed to hire three full-time workers for such a short period of time, the chronic problem of getting staff became impossible. We had the money but just couldn’t find the people.”

According to Schneider, if the need for it can be documented, a group with representatives from a number of departments on campus would explore how to provide what is needed in a space that would require one rather than two staff members at a time so fewer staff members need to be hired.

“Now, we know we can’t hire staffing for two levels of Case-Geyer,” Schneider said, “but, if the need has been documented, we would discuss the possibility of identifying one space, possibly with computers and printers as requested by SGA [in the future]. It’s a lot more doable than trying to put together staffing for two levels.”

Admission into the building proved to be another problem during the late hours last semester. An ID card reader was placed on level five, as part of a collaborative project between the libraries and Campus Safety, so that students would be able to use their unique magnetic ‘GateCards to gain access to the building. However, not all students had these IDs. Upperclassmen weren’t given the specific magnetic kind when they came to Colgate, and even some first-years were given the old type of ‘GateCard after Campus Safety ran out of the new type of ID.

“We, in the library, thought that all students had the appropriate ID or knew they had to pick it up,” Schneider said. “We didn’t know [it was a problem] because we don’t distribute the cards.”

Students reportedly found their own ways of dealing with the ID card problem, however.

“Last semester, students were propping doors open because IDs weren’t working,” Schneider said. “From a security point of view, this is not good, and we also don’t get an [accurate] account of how many people are using these spaces…so we can’t assess if we need added space.”

Additionally, students rebelled against the library staff when they closed the rest of the library.

“Some students refused to leave when we closed,” Schneider said. “Some of the staff felt harassed, and were verbally abused. It’s upsetting, since the staff doesn’t even set the policy, and it’s hard to find people who will work until 2:00 a.m. We’ve already had three resignations in the late-night position since we opened in March.”

Schneider also described other students’ attempts to thwart the faculty.

“We also had students who hid in the building,” Schneider said. “That could be considered trespassing. We told custodians [who found these students] to tell them to go to the twenty-four hour sections and if they don’t have the [right] ID card, let them in.”

The library staff is currently working out a plan with the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Dean of the Faculty and Dean of the College staff in order to smooth out these problems before this semester’s finals week.

“The building is so complex,” Schneider said. “We can’t even lock the level 5 exit and keep the building open by utilizing only the level 3 exits, since anyone passing by the motion detector will automatically unlock it because it is designed as a fire egress for security reasons. […] Hopefully, we’ll work out these issues, definitely by the end of the semester, but [we hope to] have a plan in hand by the end of the next month or so.”