During finals, JMU changes the hours of on-campus libraries to be open all day and night so students can have a quiet place to study and work on projects throughout the week. While this is no doubt a helpful addition to every student’s study tools, it does bring up the question of why the libraries can’t just be open 24 hours a day, year round.
Normally throughout the school year, both Carrier and ECL, or East Campus Library, are open until 2 a.m. during the school week with shorter hours on the weekend, closing at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and remaining open again until 2 a.m. on Sunday. These hours do give students ample amount of time to complete their work and use any resources the library has to offer, but, even having the buildings open for over 19 hours a day doesn’t always accommodate every student’s schedule.
While having a student population of almost 22,000 makes it difficult to comply with every individual and their differing academic and extracurricular demands, it seems as though there is an easy fix. Many students struggle to find time during the day to complete homework assignments or study due to their class and work schedules and rely on either staying up into the early hours of the morning or waking up before the sun to complete assignments.
Access to the libraries at these times is not always an option, and there are limited other quiet places to study. Off-campus apartment complexes and on-campus dorms usually come complete with at least one loud neighbor who stays up way too late, while popular coffee shops and other study hubs around Harrisonburg operate on normal business hours. It doesn’t help that different academic buildings around campus are locked after classes are completed for the day.
For a large number of students, the third floor of Carrier or ECL is what they rely on to stay on top of their studies without having any distractions. When those areas aren’t open or available, they can’t complete the assignments they need to. While it’s understandable that the libraries close at certain hours so the employees don’t have to be there through the night, there could be solutions to this.
Services the libraries offer obviously do need to be run by library staff. Because of that it would be illogical and unfair to them to have these services open and running all day and night, not to mention the additional fees this would cause. However, most students who do utilize them find time during the day to get what they need accomplished. Students who would use the library past normal hours are more than likely just looking for a quiet place to study and nothing else.
A solution could be adding a JACard reader to the outside of the libraries and to certain study rooms or floors inside, as many on-campus computer labs have. Doing this would allow students to swipe into the library at any time throughout the day or night without having to worry about making it within the normal hours. Closing the Starbucks and staff-run services in each library at the regular time wouldn’t keep faculty past their normal hours but would provide that extra quiet study option that many students can’t seem to find an alternative to.
Finding time during the busy school week to sit down and study for the amount of time needed isn’t always an option, nor is having a completely silent study space at all hours of the day, regardless of what time of the week it is. Installing swipe readers would boost productivity and allow for the kind of commitment toward academic work shown during finals week year-round.
Eliza MacKnight is a sophomore psychology major. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.