After a push from the student body, Student Association (SA) and Sojourner Truth Memorial Library (STL) officials announced the library’s hours of operation have been extended this semester.
For the spring 2013 semester, the library hours have been extended until 12:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday while the Late Night Study Room – which was temporarily located in the College Terrace as STL was under construction – will now be open from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., according to Library Dean W. Mark Colvson.
SA Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Jonathan Espinosa said he approached Colvson soon after his appointment as dean in September to relay concerns he heard from students regarding the library’s hours of operation.
Espinosa said the movement members of “Students With A Common Interest,” who were a former iteration of the now-formed New York Students Rising, showed him the dissatisfaction members of SUNY New Paltz’s campus community had with the library’s hours of operation when they occupied the library in December 2011.
“That group did a sit-in and wouldn’t leave,” Espinosa said. “That showed me that students had a legitimate interest in [the hours], so I wanted to make it one of my goals. Personally, I don’t use the library that much, but I know that people do and would want the hours extended.”
In addition, Espinosa said last semester’s extended hours in the Late Night Study Room were a “catalyst” for the new extended hours, as they offered Colvson and himself the ability to see if the extended hours would be popular enough to justify a change in schedule.
“Without that test, extending the hours now would have been a lot harder,” Espinosa said.
Espinosa said he met with Colvson frequently over the last few months and expressed his goals to extend the hours in STL, pointing to student demand and other SUNY schools’ hours of operation as ways to show the hours were need.
In 2011, the members of the occupying group in STL said New Paltz’s hours of operation in their library put them lower than comparable SUNY schools such as SUNY Oneonta or SUNY Plattsburgh. In 2011, SUNY New Paltz was only one of three schools in the SUNY system that operated less than 100 hours per week.
Espinosa said these numbers were driving factors in the decision to experiment with extended hours this semester.
“[Colvson] was open to my ideas, thought the extended hours were needed and supported it,” Espinosa said.
After meeting with Espinosa, Colvson said he spoke with library staff and the Provost’s office to explore the feasibility of extended hours. This lead to the “experimental” extension that is now unfolding.
Colvson said that while students approached both him and Espinosa about extending the hours, he is still waiting to see if the extended hours are truly being used when compared to the demand.
“The jury is still out on that,” Colvson said. “We have traffic counts for the room that show a steady use throughout the night, but I wouldn’t call it heavy use. We’ll continue to use and determine if the demand justifies the additional cost to keep the room open.”
Espinosa said students will need to use the extended hours to their fullest for them to continue, as the use of the open rooms is the only way school officials can gauge whether or not the continuation of them is feasible.
“The biggest voice we can have in this is traffic,” Espinosa said.
Colvson said he hopes the extended hours will let students have access to reserves, books, videos and journals in the main library for longer periods of time, and the Late Night Study Room will offer students a quiet place to study on campus.
“My hope is that students will remember the library as a supportive, welcoming space, in which to engage in serious scholarly activity,” Colvson said.