By Matt Smith
Students are pushing to keep the library open 24 hours a day, and they’ve scored their first victory.
The library agreed to extend its hours for the exam period by opening at 7 instead of 8 a.m. And Nora Loreto, president of the Ryerson Students’ Union, says that the school has the money to keep the library open later for good.
“At some point, we’d hope a fully staffed library would be optional, but the important thing is having space for students to be together,” she said.
Meanwhile, statistics released by the school and a Maclean’s survey show that Ryerson spends less on its library than the average for Ontario universities.
The overall average itself is declining and Ryerson has been below average for the last 14 years. Liz Bishop, the library’s manager of borrower services, says the proposal for a 24-hour library is on the drawing board.
“We’ve been talking because we know that some universities offer it, but certainly not the majority,” she said. “Only in the last few years has 24-hour access become an issue. We do realize that students are becoming keener on getting in here.”
However, she maintains that money isn’t what’s holding the school back. Instead, she says the concern is that the library might not be secure if it was open all night — people might not be safe and the book repository’s collection might also be vulnerable to late night thieves.
For the library to maintain 24-hour access, Bishop said, security would have to be there constantly, and a guard would have to be stationed at the entrance.
Also, administration would want the library renovated so staff areas could be sealed off at night. “This would only be expensive if we insisted on doing something unusual, like insisting on having it staffed,” she said.
Her and Loreto agree that students are happy with the school’s decision to add an extra hour during exam period, and the push for increased hours is getting some traction with administration.
“I think I would use the library after midnight if I lived on campus and could get there easily,” said Sean Meehan, a first-year politics student.
Loreto, however, believes the school has the money to pay security to make it happen, and she’s hopeful that the school is moving in the right direction.
President Sheldon Levy said that the school monitors library use to determine if there’s enough demand to increase hours.
He added that some of the library’s needs would be met by Ryerson’s planned library expansion, which will be built in the next few years on the old Sam the Record Man site on Yonge Street.
“We spend less on the library because we have no more room to be able to handle all the books and to provide resources that we want for the library,” he said.
“A priority has been to increase the size of the library and to be able to make student study space a higher priority. We know we have a long way to go with our library.”