Extending Killam Library hours under consideration

A committee of Dalhousie University departments is looking into extending library hours.

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Students study at the Killam library. Photo: Laura Hochman

It wasn't in time for midterms and it's not going to be in time for exams, but discussions to keep Dalhousie's Killam Library open past midnight beginning in the winter term are under way.

University librarian Bill Maes confirmed that he has been meeting with student services, facilities management and residence students to discuss the feasibility of extending library hours past current closing time.

Maes said the plan was to have the extended hours begin in November, but that didn't happen because of concerns over staffing, security and money.

Right now, the library is patrolled by student officers who help to lock up the library at midnight and make sure everyone leaves.

"The bus service stops at midnight so students have a way of getting home," says Maes. If they had to work later, they wouldn't have the option of a bus ride home.

Instead of using students, the committee has discussed hiring two commissionaires for when the library remains open; one to man the main entrance, the other to patrol.

The problem, Maes says, is the cost. After 1 a.m., the number of students studying in the library dwindles to about 10. During exam time, the numbers may rise to 20 or 30. If the library was to remain open, "you'd have to staff it even if students weren't there." The cost of keeping the lights and computers on, as well as staffing, all adds up.

Riley Pierce, a fourth-year student says, "Nothing's open, so it's hard. They don't even have the computer science building open late as a study space anymore."

"They begin to announce the library closing at 11:30 p.m. and then you have to start getting ready to go," says student Peter Green. He prefers to work much later.

Second-year student Kaitlin Pettipas says at the very least, "if you're already in the library before it closes, you should be able to stay."

Student Sarah Chisholm suggests, "They should have something open 24 hours and have students sign in."

This is exactly one of the plans being discussed, says Maes. The doors to the library could have swipe access and the commissionaires will have a portable swipe to identify that all the students in the library have valid Dal ID cards.

"But," says Maes, "you can't really pay commissionaires for two hours," as they would only be needed after midnight. Three a.m. is the suggested closing time, but "Three a.m. is an odd time; I think the library hours would be until 2 a.m. or until 6 a.m," says Maes.

If the plan goes ahead, only the main floor will remain open -- the Learning Commons where the computers are and the atrium, says Maes. The other floors will be locked off.

"The main floor is better than nothing at all," says second-year student Charity May.

 

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