Friday, and until 10:00 p.m. Saturday. During reading and exam weeks, we
remain open until 4:00 a.m. After midnight during the normal schedule and
reading and exam weeks, the Help Desk is staffed entirely by student workers;
permanent staff leave at midnight. Access to Olin is restricted to valid
Washington University ID holders via card swipe after 9:00 p.m.
Olin has an attached café, Whispers, on the first floor. The 5,000-square-foot
café serves as our 24/7 space during the fall and spring semesters and provides
soft seating, tables, computers, printers, restrooms, and vending machines. Food
service in Whispers ends at midnight Sunday through Thursday nights and at
3:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday afternoons. One security guard attends Whispers
during the overnight hours.
Our Exploration of Library Hours
January 2011: Dean Shirley Baker engages
ARL colleagues in discussion about library hours
Responding to user needs is, of course, a primary concern for our library, as is
making decisions based on a complete investigation and data-supported
understanding of the expressed need and how best to fulfill it. Recognizing that
in their Service Quality Survey comments, students were comparing Olin
Library’s hours to their perceptions of other major research libraries’ hours,
Dean of University Libraries Shirley Baker initiated a discussion with her
colleagues via the ARL Directors Discussion List. Gathering this information
from our peers helped us to achieve a better understanding of how our current
hours compare with those of other research libraries.
Dean Baker’s message to the list included the following questions:
• Do you keep your main library open 24/7?
• If not, how many hours per week is your main library open?
Of the 126 ARL libraries, 66 libraries responded. Respondents fell roughly
into five categories:
A. Those with main libraries open 24/7 most of the year—6 total (9%)
B. Those with main libraries open 24/5 most of the year—17 total (26%)
C. Those with 24/7 or 24/5 spaces within or attached to the main library,
or in a separate library—24 total (36%). Roughly half of the respondents
in this group have a 24/7 or 24/5 space within or attached to the main
Keeping the Doors Open: Exploring 24-Hour Library Access at Washington University
C O N T I N U E D
DECEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC