Access All Hours16 February 2016
In the lead up to semester two exams for 2015, the Eastern Resource Centre left its doors open to the public 24/7.
In a three week trial encompassing the SWOTVAC period and the first week of exams, students had access to the first level of the ERC after hours. This provided access to computers, as well as a silent study area outside of regular library operation times. Overall, the initiative was deemed to be a success.
Doubts regarding the demand for after hours ERC access were quelled, as more than the expected number of students used the space for last minute revision prior to exams.
James Henshall, a student who used the library facilities in the period leading up to examinations, said “I have many competing demands on my time and havingaccess to a quiet study place where I could work on my assignments and exam preparation made things much easier”.
However, despite glowing reviews, the trial did encounter some logistical and practical issues. On a particularly hot day, the air conditioning system on the firstfloor of the ERC malfunctioned due to overheating, most likely caused by the extended hours of use.
Accompanying this were safety concerns for the students using the facilities. While the university does offer security escorts after hours, a safety issue arosewithin the ERC itself.
Entry into the building is granted through swiping a student card to activate the automatic doors. However, upon seeing people outside, students already inside would often open the automatic doors for people who couldn’t enter.
Library staff and members of the UMSU Education and Academic Department are looking into minimising these safety risks for future trials.
Regardless of these minor concerns, “the extended hours during SWOTVAC were a great service,” said Henshall.
Given the success of the trial in 2015, the ERC is likely to remain accessible to students after hours during the lead up to exams in 2016. If no major issues arise, the after hours program may expand to other libraries on campus, providing students with more convenient study spaces in the future.
When asked about the future of 24/7 libraries at the University of Melbourne, a member of library staff said “students need access to facilities, and of course they should have that access”.
To find opening hours for all Unimelb libraries visit their website here