Perhaps you’ve heard that before from a student asking why your academic library has so few hours. The students always seem to have access to a data source that tells them every other library, especially the one where their friend goes to school, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Well, the next time I hear that I’ll be ready to offer up some evidence that the student may be slightly exaggerating the case for my library needing to jump on the 24/7 bandwagon.
Thanks to Academic Libraries 2004, the latest data tabulations from the 2004 Academic Libraries Survey (ALS) conducted by the United States Department of Educationâ€™s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), I now know that in the fall of 2004, of the 3,700 academic libraries in the United States, all of 24 were open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. That hardly seems like every academic library. That’s just one piece of informative data from this useful report.
The report offers data on services, collections, staff, expenditures, electronic services, and information literacy. While the data provides some interesting insights into the world of academic librarianship, it’s not quite specific enough for peer analysis. For example I can find out that in 2003-04, some 69 percent of academic libraries provided library reference service by email or the web, or that 34 percent of academic libraries reported that their postsecondary institution had incorporated information literacy into its strategic plan. Interesting data to be sure. Then again, the NCES does offer the Compare Academic Libraries website for those times
So the next time a student or faculty member generalizes about how all libraries do this or have that, it will be helpful to have a data source that may help to confirm or refute their claims.
5 thoughts on “But Every Other College Library Is Open 24/7”
True enough, but the move to 24/7 opening hours has only just taken off in earnest in the past two years. In 2008, when we fiiiinally get our 2006 numbers, I’m fairly confident that figure of 24 libraries will have grown by several hundred percent. My current library does it (Large State Flagship U., initiated just this August) and my previous library (Exclusive Small Libraral Arts College) moved to it last year (Science Library only).
I’m sure the number of 24/7 academic libraries will grow too, but I think it will be schools like Large State Flagship University and Exclusive Small Liberal Arts College, the ones who actually have the budgets to do so. My Medium State School doesn’t have that kind of money, even for the Science Library.
Students have told me that the libraries of all of the institutions comparable to the University of Richmond purchase at least one copy of every textbook and other book professors require for their courses. (Just as many a teenager informs his or her parents that “everyone I know has their own car!”)
There are several angles to this:
–Publishers could argue that this deprives them of revenue and thus falls outside fair use.
–How can a single copy adequately serve the needs of every student in a class?
–Do they all have to go on reserve? Would that be better or worse than the first student who gets to the book checking it out for x period?
–If worse, what remedy would students suggest?
–Is purchase of textbooks the best use of an academic library’s fiscal resources?
It may seem obvious (like what the definition of is is), but I am certain that 24/7 does not uniformly mean unfettered access to materials and services. We have a 24 lab, attached to the library. During the 100 hours we are open in the course of a regular week. students can freely enter the library proper and make use of non-electronic resources. After hours, they are not free to do so. In a very narrow sense, the library is open 24 hrs.