You Only Hurt The Ones You Love

And whose LIBQUAL+ feedback you heed . . .

If there is one request that I have seen from students in every user survey to which I have ever been privy, it is the request for more hours. Here at Kansas, we have two 24-hour facilities, and our feedback from students remains: “More hours at Watson Library” (one of the two that is not already 24-hour).

Now, on the other side, today’s Inside Higher Education reports on the concerns of campus health care professionals, who worry that 24/7 access to libraries and computer labs may result in increased physical and mental health problems among students due to lack of sleep. It’s an interesting argument, but it seems to me that I spent plenty of nights in college not getting enough sleep even before libraries were 24/7 and, yes, before the World Wide Web!

I’m not sure how this is our fault.

Other reasons to stay up all night that are perfectly legitimate: (1) being involved in theatre (my college pre-occupation; rehearsals and tech calls routinely lasted until 3 am); (2) working (more and more students have to work 20+ hours/week to afford college – see this week’s CHE – my first job in college was working library security from 12-3 am); (3) being involved in undergraduate research, esp. bench science (those experiments often have to be checked regularly all night long; hence the long-time call for 24-hour science libraries); and (4) being a student in Engineering or Architecture (I don’t know why, but those students are always up all night working on projects).

There are some good opportunities for collaboration here, though, around real Information Age health issues, e.g., repetitive movement disorders, Internet (now video poker) addiction (see last week’s story in the NYT Magazine), etc., but I don’t see them shutting down the libraries or labs, and I don’t see them turning off wireless access to the residence halls after 10 pm.

5 thoughts on “You Only Hurt The Ones You Love”

  1. Not just bench scientists stay up all night. I fondly remember all-nighters in the lab pinning insects and trying desperately to identify them. College is simply a time for many to explore a lot of new things and that takes time. It’s also a time where many people are learning how to be adults, which includes time management decisions. Our library doesn’t stay open all night. If it did I’m sure there would be people here, but most of them would probably not be working on research or even studying. Still, I don’t see that as a reason for NOT staying open late or all night.

  2. Interesting that you particularly mentioned Architecture students. My oldest son just finished the third of a five-year architecture program. When he visited a few weeks back, he looked rather unhealthy. His explanation was that he had to stay up most nights to finish projects (exactly as you said). He also works part-time and considers himself a cyberathlete in a particular online game. It looks like he has two more years of this regimen and we hardly could blame a 24/7 library if he loses a few more pounds, develop vision problems, or acquire carpal tunnel syndrome. He says he’s looking for another hobby other than online games. He explains that it doesn’t work to eliminate the online game itself. He says that like his brother who plays football, wrestling, and lacrosse, he also is driven to online games by his need to compete and excel in something.

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  4. I sometimes think our students want a 24/7 library so they can get some peace and quiet that they aren’t finding in the dorms.

  5. My concern, for urban campuses, is security. Even though our campus has a security force – and we have little crime – they can’t be everywhere. I wonder if it is wise to encourage students to be traveling about at 2 am or later. As the article said, we’re not their parents. If they choose to decide to take risks that is their choice as adults. But I can’t help but feel that in this case we need to take precautionary measures to keep our students safe. We have architecture and design programs, and they do allow those students to access their studios 24/7. It’s just part of their culture.

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