From the CJCLS Listserv: Extended Library Hours

By Kristy Padron

A recent listserv discussion was on the topic of extended library hours during final exam week. One respondent received a request to keep the library open for 24 hours during final exams. For years, my library received requests from students as well as student government leaders to extend its open hours. My experience in a library that provided extended hours  gave me one perspective and stance on the matter, but a few members of the listserv offered theirs:

Not a chance. The cost and liability would be overwhelming, the rewards practically nil. I would beware of outliers pushing for extended hours.

Resources were matters of concern for offering extended hours, particularly in terms of the staffing and costs required. However, the college’s setting should be considered.

I have never heard of a community college that had the need, let alone the resources, to offer these hours. We have studied extended hours (8:00 to 10:00 p.m.) for a couple of years. Usage, entries, and desk stats suggest that very few students relative to daytime usage come in. The drop-off is around 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. and no one comes back.

I have seen very different patterns at previous jobs that had residence halls and residential students, who often needed to get away from rowdy dorms and such, but our community college students almost always seem to prefer to go home as soon as they can and do not seem to prefer to study on campus unless they have a class later.

My take is that unless there is a residential component, community colleges are going to fit the commuter college pattern, and most patrons will leave campus after their last class and never come back. The few that are in the library later in the evening are generally coming out of evening classes and use the library as a place to study after their class gets out, but almost no one comes to the library as a destination after 4:00 p.m. unless they have a class later or just got out of one. Evening usage is extremely light, and there is no suggestion that students would stay much beyond 10:00 p.m. let alone overnight, even during midterms or finals.

I can’t imagine putting resources into keeping things open beyond that, and our numbers for the last couple of years around midterms and finals suggest exactly the same thing.

Use patterns can provide insights on the feasibility of offering extended hours:

My current community college does not have dorms or residential students, and our students generally leave campus before 5:00 p.m. and never return. We have been experimenting with extended hours for a couple of years now. During the heavy study periods (midterms and finals), there is almost no increase in visitors during the peak hours of 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and no significant increase during the extended hours.

We tried numerous ways to advertise our extended hours for students, but they do not return to the library in the evening, even during heavy study periods. We have a large student enrollment, but we have low numbers of students 9:00 or 9:30 p.m., and sometimes only one or zero.  This is after 2 years of extending hours to 10:00 p.m., and very few students seem interested in taking advantage of those relatively late hours.

One person used their experience and a recently published study that scrutinizes the benefits of offering extended hours:

My library routinely has students request extended regular hours, especially into the later night hours (eg., up to or past midnight). I wonder if the findings of an article in College & Research Libraries are somewhat appropriate do this discussion. The authors state the variable of students who use the library as a place for late night studying (using the “after hours” 24 hour study room) has a negative relationship on their graduating GPA.

Citation: Stemmer, J. & Mahan, D. (2016). Investigating the relationship of
library usage to student outcomes. College & Research Libraries [In press]. Retrieved from

Alternatives were presented for offering extended hours.  One librarian described a night that offered extended hours and involved the participation of various college units:

Ten years ago, I initiated a finals cram night for the library. I partnered with a student government association and recruited my colleagues. On the night before finals, the library stayed open until midnight, past our usual closing time of 9:00 p.m.

Faculty members and tutors were stationed at tables in the library and were available for tutoring, one on one assistance, group discussions, and homework checks. Some faculty members brought in board games to just play and debrief with any  of their students. The student government provided free food throughout the evening, which is always helpful. Posters, word of mouth, and faculty announcements helped spread the word. The librarians set up a “citation station” for help with papers. We tried offering yoga stretches, soft music, and stress-reducing activities, but the students wanted their instructors and also food. The student government then has drawings, prizes, and surveys. We even had a flashmob start the evening on a few occasions.

This was a great community event and involved faculty, students, librarians, and administrators. We have requests to offer it for a full week before finals, but we are a small staff and I do not think I could convince enough faculty to commit.

The surveys indicate the students like the event and look forward to it every semester. They also indicate that it makes a big difference in their grade and/or comfort level with their final.

Another alternative was to set aside a space for extended hours:

A cheap alternative to all-night libraries is a late night study hall.  It will need tables, chairs, access to restrooms, wi-fi, and a vending machine. The only staffing required is
campus public safety.

Extended hours are an often-demanded service, and as one part of the discussion indicates, a lucrative opportunity for collaboration. Please share in the comments how your library has responded to requests for extended library hours, or what it has done.


From the CJCLS Listserv: Should the library report to Academic Affairs or Student Services?

By Kristy Padron


We currently have a leadership vacuum at my library. Our library director resigned and less than a week later, his supervisor and the interim library director, the Vice President of Student Success, also resigned.

We now see an opportunity to possibly move the library’s place in the college reporting structure from the Student Success department to Academic Affairs, and report to the Dean of Academic Affairs or the Vice President of Instruction. I’ve searched the list archives but haven’t found much on this topic, so I’m wondering:

  • To whom do you or your library director report? Someone in Student Services or Academic Affairs?
  • If you made the switch from reporting to Student Services to Academic Affairs, or vice versa, what have been the benefits or drawbacks?

The respondents overwhelmingly recommended to go with Academic Affairs.  One librarian, whose unit reports to Student Services, described her experience:

The meetings I attend are with the heads of units like financial aid, athletics, admissions, and housing.  We found ourselves in meetings discussing enrollment management issues and did not understand why we were there.  I don’t meet (and am not invited to meet, and in one instance was told I shouldn’t meet) with faculty. This makes it harder to establish rapport with them.

The librarian also stated her area is often tasked with activities not traditionally done by libraries, such as proctoring make-up tests and issuing school identification cards.  This seemed to feed inaccurate perceptions of what they do:

When Student Services staff give prospective students and families campus tours, I often hear them say when they stop in the library, “this is where you come to make up a missed test.” That’s all they have said about the library!

As a result, the library is often overlooked by faculty.  While the library is seen as a physical space, the college does not understand their staffing, budget and IT support needs.  The library is often seen as having a support role but its employees are not on equal footing in terms of pay or status with other colleagues who have comparable duties and levels of education.

Librarian status was affected by the department to which they reported:

Reporting on the academic side means you are faculty.  At my college, faculty must have a master’s degree.  Since librarians have a master’s degree, we are all equals.  This gives us a voice in governance, which is key.

Many, but not all, of the respondents who said they reported to Academic Affairs said librarians had faculty status.  This strongly affected their roles on campus, particularly with governance:

Having faculty representatives is great in the governance structure, and then having my position be in administration is advantageous because of my opportunity to be part of the management team.  Many of our college committee’s bylaws (instructional council, curriculum, etc.) specify a library representative.  In most cases, it is a voting role, but in some it is non-voting.

Librarians do not have faculty status in some libraries that report to Academic Affairs.  This bars them from participating in professional development, governance, and other campus activities.  Those who reported this added that administrators and sometimes faculty do not know or appreciate what the libraries can contribute to their college.

Many of the changes in reporting structure formed as a result of retirements, resignations, or restructuring:

My sister college had a librarian serving as Dean of Library and Learning Resources. Upon retiring, the position was vacated and they now share a dean with Literature-Language Division. The dean is a former English instructor.

When I started here 7 years ago, the library director reported to the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  She now reports to the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

We had major turnover in administration over the summer with our President, Dean of Academic Affairs and Dean of Career and Technical Education (CTE) either resigning or retiring.  They didn’t replace the CTE dean’s position.  Rather, they placed everyone and everything associated with that position under the Academic Affairs dean, again.

Sometimes the changes in reporting structure happened because of a promotion or reassignment.  At other times, the library was assigned under an academic or IT unit, which posed its own challenges:

Our library does not have its own dean or director.  Ours was the dean of Instructional Resources (IR) who reported to the Vice President of Academic Affairs.  At one point, our dean was promoted to Vice President of Student Services, and IR was obliged to follow her and be placed under a dean there.  Soon, IR was moved back to Academic Affairs and then went through a succession of deans that saw us connected to Visual and Performing Arts, and eventually Language Arts.

I report to the Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).   HSS falls under the instructional/academic affairs side of the organization.  This reporting structure proves challenging on a couple of fronts.  I don’t always get information that I need to move this library forward.  I also don’t have the clout that goes with reporting directly to a vice president or administrator.   On the upside, I have the autonomy to manage my staff and resources (provided it doesn’t involve too much money).

At my college, the Library Coordinator answers to the Dean of Academic Technology and Learning Support (ATLS), who also oversees Distance Education (Online Learning), Testing, and Tutoring.  Theoretically, this is a natural alliance of units, with the possible exception of Testing.

My library is an outlier. We report to the Dean of Institutional Research and Planning. The history behind this is that our dean used to be head of IT. When he made the switch to Institutional Research and Planning, the library went with him. Talk about being off the grid! The upside is that the library is fairly autonomous. The down side is that the library has fallen off the scope of the academic side of the college

I report to the Dean of Academic Affairs along with the faculty department heads and other academic directors (Outreach, Assessment, Academic Achievement, etc.).  My current dean used to be our assessment director, so he’s a numbers guy, which means he reads and follows my reports. He’s also very pro-library, believing that the library has an important role in student success, so I lucked out in that area (it doesn’t hurt that he’s married to a librarian).

In conclusion, most of the respondents recommended reporting to Academic Affairs, mainly for the following reasons:

It is much easier to make the case for why the library is important to education and information literacy when you have access to academic administration.

Libraries need to work with classroom faculty, which is harder to do when you are in student services.

As a major contributor to teaching and learning, the library belongs under Academic Affairs.  The learning outcomes in library instruction (and reference) should be aligned with larger institutional goals, such as general education goals/competencies, in order to maximize the impact of those services on student learning.  This alignment has the potential to mean the most for administrators in Academic Affairs.  When the library falls under Student Affairs, operational outcomes may be prioritized over learning outcomes.

It’s where the action is and you want to be in the thick of it, good or bad.

What has your experience been with reporting to Academic Affairs or Student Services?  Please share in the comments!


Student Services and Your Library: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship?

by Amy Waldman

I joined the CJC-listserv not long after starting library school in 2008. At that point, I’d been running the Displaced Homemaker Program at Milwaukee Area Technical College for five years. Student Services didn’t have a lot of interaction with the library, so the listserv gave me a window into some of what might be happening over there.

Early on in my MLIS program, I knew that getting some work experience in a library while in school would be invaluable. I also knew that there was no chance that would happen– I had a full-time job already and graduate school was like having another full-time job.

Something else did happen, though.

As a Student Services professional, I knew a lot about our students and their needs. As I learned more about what the library had to offer, I was able engage and collaborate in ways that would never have happened had I not had a foot in both worlds.

So, from a Student Services perspective, here are a couple of things that happened because I went to Library School that might be of use to some of you.

  1. Bibliographies
    1. In 2010, the Displaced Homemaker Program teamed up with a community organization to host a morning-long conference on accessing mental health services in the area. The library prepared a display and created a bibliography that was handed out in the conference materials.
    2. When author Shauna Singh Baldwin spoke about her book “The Selector of Souls,” at a college community event in 2012, the library prepared a bibliography of resources on intimate partner violence.
  1. Energy Assistance Sign-up
    1. Many of our students are low-income and qualify for energy assistance, but the only way they were able to access the program was to stand in long lines at a local agency, thereby missing classes. If they didn’t sign up and were unable to pay their electric bills, their power was shut off in mid-April, just as they were gearing up for final projects and exams. In conjunction with the library and our Office of Student Life, I arranged for the agency to come to MATC and see students by appointment at the three of our four campuses within its service area. The library co-sponsored and hosted. More than 200 students (many who had never set foot in the library before) signed up for appointments. The event has continued on an annual basis and is now hosted by the library.

3. The Affordable Health Care Act

One morning, while meeting with one of our program counselors about a student, an adviser walked in and handed him a sheet of paper. It turned out that large numbers of students were asking for information about the Affordable Care Act. I got back to my office and called our library manager.

“Do you have a LibGuide about the Affordable Care Act?”

“No,” he said. “But that’s a really good idea.”

When it was complete, Counseling and Advising was notified. The department now provides students with a link to our library’s LibGuide.

These are just a couple of examples of successful collaborations between Student Services and the library. Please share yours!