For students of all stripes at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the Criss Library can be a crucial resource. The friendly librarians, ample study spaces, plethora of computers, and of course the books, periodicals and films that make up the library’s collection, are all important elements to college students.
While the Library’s state-of-the-art facilities give UNO students an edge in many ways, especially creatives who can utilize the many varieties of creative software and hardware the library provides, they do shortchange students in one crucial area: hours of operation.
Regular hours for the Library are Monday through Thursday 7:00 to 12:00 a.m., Friday 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. While weekday hours will be extended this week and next for Prep and Finals Weeks, students studying late are generally faced with an abrupt curfew.
Midnight comes too quickly for a student finishing off a paper due in tomorrow morning’s class, or cramming for an upcoming exam. For a student who is hit with an unexpected or forgotten deadline, the midnight limit doesn’t allow for much flexibility.
Beyond the basic computer functionality a student can use at home, the library offers things that would be useful to have a bit later. For students who don’t have computers, or who need the creative suite of software at the library, the computer labs are vital, and an upcoming
project could hang in the balance.
Besides technology, the library can offer an escape from distractions of home, and a place to focus energy. For groups, a library can provide a neutral meeting space that’s optimized for collaboration. All of those things can be very useful beyond the stroke of 12. Closed library doors can seriously injure the prospects of a paper or project.
At schools around the nation, libraries or other study facilities that are open 24 hours a day are commonplace. Emory University’s Woodruff Library, for example, is open 24/7 for access, including its coffee shop, as is Ohio State’s 18th Avenue Library. Columbia and Stanford have 24-hour study rooms, Santa Clara’s library is open until 2am regularly and never closes during exam periods.
But one doesn’t have to look that far for more generous library hours. UNO’s sister school, Nebraska-Lincoln, features a much broader schedule. UNL’s Adele Coryell Hall Learning Commons is open 24 hours a day, and features many of the same features of a full-fledged library, with collaborative study areas and computer hardware.
While running such a large building as UNO’s Criss Library is a costly enterprise, many staff members and sections of the building could be closed if hours were to be extended. For instance, checking out books is not as necessary during the night.
Shutting down most parts of the library except study spaces, computer access, and catalog systems, would still leave a great space for students to study and work beyond the hours allotted to them by daylight. UNO could also take a page from the books of other schools and restrict library access to ID-carrying students and staff for these extended hours to prevent abuse.
A 24-hour library, or at least a 24-hour study and collaboration facility, is something that universities around the nation and in our backyard have successfully put into practice. Students at UNO deserve no less.