The hours of operation of the VCU Libraries are very lacking for the size of the University. There seems to be an assumption that students are not looking to do homework during the weekend. This is simply not true. Many students are limited by these hours. While students are able to do their homework at home during the weekend evening hours, they are not able to do research. As the largest research university in Virginia, I believe that this is stunting the growth of student research. These hours are only convenient for students who have the late mornings and afternoons free to study. It completely disregards the needs of students who have jobs or other obligations. The increase in tuition should lead to an increase of resources available to students, and increased library hours would benefit all students on both campuses. It would also show that VCU recognizes the hard and demanding work of their students, and the students' work ethic and commitment to their education. The current hours are impractical, and frankly, a little insulting. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
From: an undergraduate student
"Dong.... dong... 'Hello. This is a reminder that Cabell library will be closing in twenty minutes. Please take any items you wish to check out to the...'" This is a sound I hear about three-five times a week. As a busy undergraduate student at VCU, I find myself spending more and more time at Cabell library. The updated second floor is great; it has ample amount of room to study in a comfortable and clean setting. I've always thought the third and fourth floor noise levels were helpful, and I often find myself on the third floor busily typing until late at night. But why is it that I'm forced to stop my flow of work at 2AM? Cabell library provides reliable internet to the student body. It has dozens of black and white and color printers. If you need to copy notes or other documents, you can utilize the copy machine at a small fee. And as I mentioned earlier, the new second floor is an ideal place to work on group collaborations. There are no televisions. No roommates to bring over loud friends. No food to cook. No pets to steal your attention. No bedroom to clean. No showers to take. Essentially, Cabell library is free of any distractions that would otherwise inhibit you from getting your work done. But at 2AM, this is lost. Sure, during exam weeks Cabell runs the "Library Lite All Nite" hours, in which the facility is open 24/7. But don't you think it's important to have this option throughout the school year? Would it really break the bank to have the library open for five more hours each day? With the economy today, surely there would be people willing to take on a shift at a second job. Perhaps students receiving Financial Aid could man the front desk as Work Study. Current safety measures could still apply; all IDs are checked after 10PM and security guards patrol all floors. If anything, safety is compromised when students leave the library at 2AM (often carrying objects of value such as laptops, purses, I-pods, etc) to walk back home or to search for another place to continue their work. I'd like to ask Cabell Library and the VCU community to consider extending the library hours to 24/7 throughout the regular school year. For students like me... who have jobs that require working late hours, noisy roommates, and no internet at home. I know that it would definitely have a positive impact on my studies and ultimately, on my GPA. VCU does want their students to succeed, right?
from: an undergraduate student
John Ulmschneider, University Librarian, replies...
We often hear from students about longer building hours for Cabell Library, and we really do understand how important access to the library can be for students. Cabell Library's hours are already among the longest for public institutions of higher education in Virginia, but increasingly, students tell us that it's just not enough for their busy schedules. The popularity and use of the new study spaces in Cabell Library have been off the charts, and we know that students would be there around the clock if they could.
As you know, State funding for the entire University has contracted dramatically over the past three years. Every unit has had to reduce its expenditures, including the VCU Libraries. We've tried to minimize the impact on students -- regular building hours have not been affected, and 24-hour service at the end of the semester remains in place -- but we simply cannot fund an expansion of library hours with our current funding. In fact, other services we've reduced have a higher need than round-the-clock access right now if funding becomes available: for example, hours for Media and Reserve Services on the 3rd floor, or Special Collections and Archives on the 4th floor. We need first to ensure that students have access to these kinds of core, basic services before we can turn our attention to a 24-hour library.
We hope that as the University's financial picture improves, funding might become available to improve the library situation as well. Providing round-the-clock, 24-hour access remains a high priority and an important goal for the VCU Libraries. We're hopeful that in coming years we can provide that level of service to our students.
Thank you for taking time to write to us about library hours. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to talk more about library hours, or about any library issue.