Friday, July 22, 2011

Library commons open 24 hours

Here I was thinking I would have to post a good news story (horribile dictu) about the library staying open overnight during the fall semester. But upon reading the fine print (usually a mistake), I learned that no library services will be available during the extended hours overnight. This produces a somewhat comical combination of quotes. 
“This is a research institution … students should have access to university resources at all times,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said.  . . . .
“The idea was for less focus on library services and more on having a safe study environment on campus,” [library affairs Dean] Carlson said. “A large portion of library services are digital resources and student will have access to those.”
That is, a couple of study lounges and a computer lab will be open on the first floor. Students will be able to access all library resources they could access . . . from any computer terminal in the world. No books. 


Now this may be a reasonable decision for overnight hours, as it won't require any library staff, or policing the upper floors. And even I will grant that one function of the library is to provide a safe place to study. And I suspect that rather few research libraries allow stack access 24/7. But the symbolism is, shall we say, unfortunate. I would say not that the library is open, but that the library commons will be open overnight. 

2 comments:

  1. Professor EmeritusJuly 23, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    On my recent visit to the Morris Library following its renovation I was appalled to see changes and these do not just include the lack of books and journals stored away in the limited hours confines of the McLafferty Annex with its ridiculous hours of access. The place was mostly empty save for several students chatting away noisily at tables near the third floor periodical stacks and talking loudly on mobile phones over cups of soft drinks that could easily spill on to whatever journals they were supposed to be reading. Although there are supposed to be quiet rooms for that purpose, none were used and the loud conversation of students made concentration on reading impossible. Certainly, the Dean of Library Affairs wants to contribute to that party atmosphere that has haunted the university for so long rather than make the Morris Library a respectable environment for study.

    Whatever has happened to the idea of silence in a library as well as the building being regarded as the second home for faculty? I remember that distant era when the late lamented Alan Cohn put books relevant to research in faculty boxes. When I entered and left the building a student smiled and wished me a "good day" on my way out using that familiar platitude of servile corporate secretaries.

    The new Dean appears to want to make Morris resemble the Student Center in terms of numbers. But, from the many students who are in SIU, already contemplating transfers to real universities, they are forced to go to quiet rooms in the Student Center.

    SIUC has changed for the worse since my time and the present status of the new Morris Library represents another nail in the coffin of SIUC's reputation. My sympathies are with those who have to remain and endure this appalling situation.

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  2. I hope we a allocating public safety resources so that students are not attacked going to and from the library at night.

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