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The case against a 24-hour library

UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery offers many amenities to the campus community. Students can check out books, journals, and various other documents from the library. The Math Lab and Writing Center allow students to receive feedback and tutoring on their courses and assignments. There are also several printers, photocopiers, and scanners available for use, among other facilities. Most of all, however, the library offers a valuable space for students to study or complete work at their desired noise level.

Because of the usefulness of the library, some have proposed the idea of a 24-hour library. The Retriever Learning Center, a closed-off area where students can study, is already open 24/7, but the library itself is closed during the night.

If library hours were extended to include the entire night, students – especially commuters – would gain a beneficial place to study or congregate at whatever time they wish. Late-night cram sessions or early morning study groups would be far easier to organize without the limitations of the RLC alone. Even residential students could benefit from this, as the library’s hours on weekends — a valuable time to study or do group projects — are shorter than on weekdays.

However, several complications could arise if the library opens its doors 24/7. One of these complications would include the cost. Regardless of the exact number of employees needed during these less busy hours, some increase in staff would be necessary, so their wages would have to be factored into the budget of the library. Other considerations that would greatly affect costs include an increased usage of electricity and water, which could drive up the cost of utility bills.

The necessity of a 24-hour library has also been called into question by some students. Sirasa Iambamrung, a senior biochemistry major and a UMBC commuter, mentioned that “sometimes [she goes] to the library between classes,” but noted that there were no classes that extended beyond midnight, at which time the library closes on most weekdays. “Other than that, I usually just study at home,” she added.

Kevin Moyers, a sophomore undecided major who lives on campus, was similarly uncertain of a 24-hour library’s benefits. “I don’t really know how many students would even use the library that late,” he said.

As of now, it seems that a 24-hour library would be more of a hassle than it is worth. Most commuters do not stay on the campus beyond midnight and students that live on campus can work within the residence halls as late as they want to. The 24/7 availability of the RLC is enough to satisfy most students that still wish for another place to quietly work or study. Nonetheless, the value of the services the library provides is worth keeping in mind as the university continues to grow.