For the first time ever, the downtown Webster library will be open for study 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the whole semester – but few Concordia students seem interested.
The library’s new round-the-clock opening hours are part of the Library Project, which Concordia students voted last semester to pay for by contributing $1 per credit per semester.
Despite voting for the fee levy, most students have yet to take advantage of the new hours.
Last Wednesday morning at 4 a.m., only four students were present in the entire library. Only one was doing schoolwork. The other three had taken the opportunity to plaster advertising stickers all over the library, promoting the website they are building.
At 2 a.m. Thursday, and 3 a.m. Saturday the headcounts were the same 8212; four students.
The cost of keeping the building open 24 hours a day for eight months of the year (it will not be open for extended hours in the summer) is approximately $200,000, according to a preliminary estimate, said Gerald Beasley, the university librarian and a main architect of the Library Project. The cost of the entire 10-year run for the project, which is funded by students and also goes toward purchasing more textbooks, course packs and laptops, costs around $680,000 each year, he said.
Beasley said he wasn’t surprised by the low turnout. “I don’t think we’ve had a lot of time to market it, and it’s a quiet period of term,” he said. “On the other hand, what I’m pretty convinced of is that there are very few students who won’t want at some time to get into the library in the middle of the night.”
Despite a lack of student interest thus far, campus security guard Das Krishna said the new library hours have attracted another demographic 8212; the homeless.
“There was this guy, and he was claiming he was a doctor and was a student here, but he was in his 70s,” Krishna said early Wednesday morning. “We caught him sleeping here yesterday. We caught him again today. We had another homeless guy sleeping in the lobby, too.”
Krishna said security guards probably wouldn’t ask sleeping students to leave, although they would be kicked out if they were inebriated.
Despite the trouble the project is having getting off the ground, Beasley said the cost is well worth it.
“I believe Concordia will be a beacon in Canada on how to treat students, by providing these kinds of services. I don’t know of any other academic library in Canada that provides this.”
The handful of students present in the early hours of the morning seemed to agree. Billy Richards, in human relations, who was at Webster because he didn’t have Internet access at home, said it helped him. “It’s a good idea. It’s just [empty] because it’s the beginning of term.”
Another student, Ojike Wosu, agreed. “Absolutely,” said the math and chemistry student, when asked if he thought the project was good initiative. “There’s not a lot of students now, but there will be during exam time.”
Until then, even the security guards are finding the nights a little too uneventful. “Well usually, when it’s very active, it’s less boring. Now its just very quiet,” said Krishna, in the middle of his ten hour shift.
With Reporting from Renee Giblin