Keeping the Doors Open:
Exploring 24-Hour Library
Access at Washington
University in St. Louis
Sarah Laaker, Circulation Librarian,
Washington University in St. Louis Libraries
Eremains
ven as electronic resources become increasingly important to
academic library users, access to libraries’ physical spaces also
essential to many patrons. Students responding to our
Service Quality Survey in November 2010 sent this message to the libraries
at Washington University in St. Louis.1 Survey data shows that 72% of
undergraduate respondents and 52% of graduate respondents visited the
library at least once per week. Fewer than 2% of undergraduates and fewer
than 3% of graduates reported never entering the physical library. Furthermore,
undergraduate and graduate respondents alike expressed a need for Olin
Library, the main library of the Washington University Library System, to
expand its hours. While some students asked us to expand our hours on
particular days of the week, many students told us emphatically to keep the
library open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their requests inspired our library
to gather additional data about late-night and all-night library usage and to
explore how we might begin to meet our students’ expressed need for 24/7
library access.
Washington University Libraries’
Service Quality Survey
Every three years, the libraries distribute an electronic survey to faculty and
students to assess the quality of library service based on user expectations and
to identify areas for improvement. Two main areas of the November 2010
Service Quality Survey revealed our students’—and especially our
undergraduates’—desire for extended hours in the libraries.
Item 7 of the survey stated:
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DECEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC