VIDEO: Extended library hours deemed beneficial, Mabee

Mabee, Mabee Not Students study at the Mabee library during their new extended hours. Mabee Library officials are still determining whether their new hours extending to 2 a.m are a major benefit to students or not.

Finding time to study and do homework can be a challenging task in and of itself, especially for students with jobs and extracurricular activities.

Luckily, Mabee Library is open late to house studying and academic requirements when life outside of school permits.

Starting in November 2011, Mabee Library extended their regular weekday hours from closing at 11 p.m. to closing at 2 a.m. The extra three hours were tacked on to the end of Sunday through Thursday nights, while their Friday and Saturday hour times remained unchanged with Friday closing at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m.

The idea was first proposed in October by the Washburn Student Government Association, led by president Taylor McGown and vice president Michael Kitowski. They made a list of changes that they thought would enhance students’ time spent at Washburn, with the time extension of the library being one of those changes.

“I use the library all the time, especially for my major,” said McGown, majoring in biology/pre-dental.

The idea began as 24-hour access library space as a long-term goal and to create a space for students to come and hang out but also get work done.

“We decided we would start small, and just try to increase the hours,” said McGown.

McGown and the WSGA then took the statistics from past finals weeks and looked at the times students were coming in to study, focusing on the hours past 11 p.m. The statistics showed a good number of students coming in after the library would normally close, then dropping off around 2 a.m.

WSGA took these numbers to Alan Bearman, dean of the library, then to Randall Pembrook, vice president of academic affairs and Jerry Farley, president of Washburn University. All three thought the idea was good, and gave the approval for a trial period starting in November, with the library being open 24 hours during finals week in December.

“This is just getting the ball rolling,” said McGown. “I am very hopeful that [Pembrook] will express interest in making it a permanent thing for our campus.”

After finals, Bearman looked at the numbers and statistics of library usage from the last couple months and felt good about going back to the 2 a.m. schedule.

According to Bearman, the number of students using the library has been growing steadily every year, from about 10,000 students using it during February of 2008, to 25,000 students using it just last month.

“The growth in usage has been occurring long before we extended the hours,” said Bearman,. “I can’t say more students have been using the library because it’s open late, but I can tell you they are happy that we aren’t kicking them out around 11 anymore.”

But these changes did not come without a price. In order to put these ideas into action, the WSGA donated $1,000, along with money put forth by Bearman, the vice president’s office and facilities services.

To accommodate for the hours, more student workers had to be hired, along with a police officer from the Topeka Police Department for safety and protection. The costs to hire such workers come to around $100 a night, said Bearman, and the university covers the costs of utilities to keep the lights and power on for those extra hours.

Research is also being done by the library staff to see the reasons why students use the library, whether it is space for studying and group work or access to technology such as computers and printers. They are also looking at what resources need to be available and what times those resources are needed, since the regular library staff leaves at 11 p.m.

Bearman commends the WSGA for their work in making these ideas a reality.

 “They worked hard on this, and they did it for all the right reasons,” said Bearman, “They’ve done what they said they were going to do…they deserve a big pat on the back for doing this.”