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USG: Extend Thompson’s hours

Molly Gray / Lantern editor

A year after William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library reopened after extensive renovations, students are calling for more.

On Monday, 1,866 students confirmed themselves as attending a Facebook event titled “Do you want Thompson Library’s hours extended?” The event, created by Tara Workman, Undergraduate Student Government associate director for libraries, and Niraj Antani, a senator in USG, is spreading word that there will be extended library hours during finals week, in hopes that it will generate support for extended hours yearlong.

But university officials are not convinced that many students would take advantage of extended hours, which could cost more than $100,000 a year.

“We’re hoping to get a strong student turnout,” said USG President Micah Kamrass. “That should be a persuasive argument as to why they should make (library hours) extended to 2 a.m. all year round.”

During normal hours, the library is open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The hours will be extended until 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday of finals week.

“Thompson has a history of staying open late during finals weeks. However, we have not seen many students in Thompson during the midnight to 2 a.m. time period when we have been open,” said Larry Allen, communications director for university libraries.

But some students want the library open late all year long because of its location in the heart of campus.

“More then once a week I study (at Thompson) until 12 a.m. and then go over to SEL. It’d be nice to stay in one place,” said John Wernecke, an undecided second-year.

But other students, such as Michael Chandler, a fourth-year in civil engineering, said that even if the library expanded its hours, they would stay that late only on special occasions, such as during midterms and finals.

Kamrass, along with Workman and Katie Burwell, USG director of academic affairs, met with library administrators Oct. 22 to discuss the library and their hopes for extending normal hours until 2 a.m. during the week.

“In mine and (USG Vice President) Brad Pyle’s campaign, one of the biggest topics that we pushed was that we thought our library could be open later than midnight,” Kamrass said. “So we wanted to meet with people in charge of the library and find out if efforts have already been made on that and if not, what it would take to make that possible.”

During the meeting, Kamrass learned that it would cost at least $130,000 a year to keep Thompson Library open until 2 a.m.

“The number is probably a little fuzzy, but that is a gross estimate that we came up with at the meeting with USG,” said Nancyanne O’Hanlon, head of instruction for university libraries.

She said the extra cost would stem from additional security, extra student workers and staff to man the 12-floor library.

Both Kamrass and O’Hanlon said they wanted to increase the library budget to allow extended hours.

“We certainly want to be able to provide (later hours) but we have to be able to afford it and we have to see that it is really something students will take advantage of,” O’Hanlon said.

Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich is required to announce an official budget by March 15. Kamrass said that after evaluating several considerations, including tuition, the library hours will be high on his priority list.

“We can’t move until we see what the state budget looks like,” Kamrass said. “Once we see whether or not there is room to increase the library funding, we can request that from the provost.”

Kasich, who was painted as anti-student by his opponent, Gov. Ted Strickland, hasn’t released any particulars about his plan for higher education.

“Gov.-elect Kasich will be rolling out his budget when it is finalized,” said Rob Nichols, Kasich’s press secretary. “The whole budget will be under the microscope, and we will put out the best value for the tax payers.”

For now, however, Kamrass is hoping for support during the finals week hours, he said. USG will offer snacks during the extended hours and will help the library track the number of students who visit.

The Science and Engineering Library is the only library on campus open 24 hours a day, which is financially feasible because of the library’s smaller size, officials said.

However, Kamrass said he and other members of the USG senate are concerned because SEL will likely lose about 150 seats when construction begins on Sullivant Hall on High Street. The university will temporarily move the music library from Sullivant Hall to the SEL.

Libraries Director Carol Diedrichs has proposed several potential sites for additional study spaces to make up for seats lost in the SEL, including Central Classrooms Building, Scott Laboratory, Hitchcock Hall, Smith Lab and the Physics Research Building.

Diedrichs gave her presentation in an open meeting, and it can be found at library.osu.edu.

Andrew Holleran contributed to this story.

 

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