Year after year, the Student Representative Assembly and McMaster Students Union executives bring Library Hour Extension into their campaigns and year after year, nightowl students continue to see the library facilities closed for the evening.

This begs the serious question of why student demand is not being translated into longer schedules. Quite simply, it is because of finances.

More elaborately, the potential for library buildings to fully accommodate students 24/7 is stunted due to a lack of library staff, not to mention concerns for student safety.

“Lots of MSU campaigns over the last few years discussed extended hours and I think part of it is just that [students] do not understand how costly it can get if we just leave the library open for a long period of time and there is no one is there,” said Anne Pottier, Associate University Librarian.

“Currently, our hands are already tied with the financial commitment of night hours. We require one guard at Mills, one at Innis and two guards at Thode because of the building size. It gets up there… I feel that we are on the neighbourhood of spending $50,000 to $70,000 a year between all three places,” she said.

For security reasons, the library is required to have an invigilator at all hours. As a result, extending library hours is not as simple as changing the numbers on the schedule. “We have to hire third party security guards in order to keep the library open at night when there aren’t enough library staff,” Pottier added.

For the past six years, the libraries have run under staggered schedule during different parts of the semester. The libraries try to optimize their hours based on student need.

“I look at the peaks and valleys of the term, and when students need access to the library for a longer period of time. We try to keep the three libraries as consistent as possible,” explained Pottier.

For the first two weeks of the semester, the libraries have condensed hours and often close at 4:45 p.m. The closing times are gradually stretched to 10:45 p.m. and following the mid-term recess, the Mills Learning Commons is extended to 24 hours, and Innis hours are extended until 2:45 a.m. During exam season, Thode library becomes open 24/7.

“We try to justify when students will need the space and then how we man the space,” she said. “Security guards are asked to do head counts on an hourly basis. They tell me how many people are there every night so that I can sense how well the hours are working.”

Despite the efforts of the library to balance costs with student satisfaction, library closing times remain a struggle for some students.

“[Libraries] close way too early with the only option of going to a noisy Mills Commons at night. As a place of study, extended hours for all libraries will benefit all students without having them seek suboptimal areas around campus to study,” expressed Enoch Tin, a second-year health sciences student.

While a large-scale library hour extension is likely off the table at the moment, the library has accommodated student requests in the past. The Innis library quiet study hours are the result of past MSU president Ehima Osazuwa, and late night study at Thode was also a direct result collaboration with the MSU.

Library hours

Mills Library

Mon. to Thurs. – 8a.m. – 10:45p.m.

Fri. – 8a.m – 5:45p.m.

Sat. – 10:30a.m. – 5:45p.m.

Sun. – 12p.m. – 10:45p.m.

Mills Commons

Mon. to Thurs. – 24hrs

Fri. – 8a.m. – 9:45p.m.

Sat. – 10:30a.m. – 9:45p.m.

Sun. – 12p.m. – 12a.m.

Innis Library 

Mon. to Thurs. 8:30a.m. – 2:45a.m.

Fri. – 8:30a.m. – 6:45p.m.

Sat. – Closed

Sun. – 1:00p.m. – 7:45p.m.

Health Sciences Library

Mon. to Thurs. 8a.m. – 10:45p.m.

Fri. – 8a.m. – 9:45p.m.

Sat. – 10:30a.m. – 5:45p.m.

Thode Library

Mon. to Thurs. – 8a.m. – 10:45p.m.

Fri. – 8a.m. – 9:45p.m.

Sat. – 10:30a.m. – 5:45p.m.

Sun. – 12p.m. – 10:45p.m.

Open 24 hours during exams



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