The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Shelving limited library hours

I'M A CLOSET Clemons geek. I'll admit it. I'm also a first-floor addict. In Clemons, there are a few different breeds, all of which are easily identifiable. Each floor, with its distinctive feel, has a regular cast of characters. I see the same first-floor crew - the same people in the same area - every night. It's almost like I know them.

It's also quite regular that at 2 a.m. there are still quite a few of us studying, along with a few other students sprinkled on the second through fourth floors. Unfortunately though, whether we have an exam the next day or we're writing a big paper, at 2 a.m. we have to leave. That means time wasted - gathering up books and papers, packing up a bag, and walking home or calling and waiting for a ride - when we otherwise could be studying. And that's if we can find another suitable place to study.

It's a shame because we're not demanding people. Everyone is quietly studying or typing. At that time, most people already have checked out any books that they're going to need - the overall need for librarian support seems to be non-existent.

Student Council has intelligently identified the need for longer library hours and passed a resolution to keep Clemons Library open 24 hours a day. The University has said, however, that the initiative would cost around $52,000. The library could fund this itself but would be forced to cut other services in order to meet its budget.

I have studied in other 24-hour facilities, like the Cocke Hall computer lab, and gone an entire night without seeing any supervision except for an occasional police officer, checking on their regular route to make sure everyone is safe. Monitoring Clemons shouldn't be any more difficult.

The solution to the funding problem, however, is not to cut other library services. The $52,000 needed to make the program feasible should come from a fundraising drive or from some other area of the University.

The initiative to keep Clemons open 24 hours a day is not exclusively a library issue. The initiative addresses both academic and safety issues as well as dealing with a student suggestion. These factors should confirm the validity of the project; it deserves new funding, separate from the library budget.

Longer hours also should be accompanied by an increased budget for the library. The library should not be forced to cut back on book purchases, personnel or anything else. Those services are essential to the library and to the students who use them; cutting back on those expenditures should not be considered a viable option.

In the grand scheme of things, $52,000 doesn't seem like all that much - it's only a little more than the cost for two out-of-state students to attend Mr. Jefferson's fine institution for a year. It's the cost of about 21 first-year meal plans. $52,000 is about the interest earned on $1 million endowment - earning just 5 percent interest - each year. Generally speaking, $52,000 just doesn't seem like too much to a University that is in the process of raising $1 billion.

Figures aside, the point is that students care about increasing library hours - how often does Student Council take a stand on anything? - and it won't cost the administration all that much to grant our wish. Moreover, compared to other student wishes - such as moving formal fraternity rush back to the fall - this one should be a no-brainer. Students demanding more time in the library should be every educator's dream; so why would they fail to do whatever necessary to acquiesce?

We didn't ask for an expensive football stadium. Nor do we particularly care about moving the Special Collections Library - except insofar as it pushes student groups around. And while we may want smaller classes and more professors, it's obvious that it requires time and a lot of money to accomplish those goals. But when it comes to keeping Clemons Library open for an extra six hours, $52,000 just doesn't sound all that unreasonable.

(Nick Lawler's column appears Wednesdays in The Cavalier Daily.)


Latest Podcast

Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.