Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

Lamont Open 24/7 for Reading Period and Exams

Lamont Library  

April 11, 2012 – During reading period and final exams, Lamont Library will remain open 24/7 as part of a pilot to explore longer permanent hours for the library at this time each semester, Harvard College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds and Interim Head of Harvard College Library Susan Fliss announced today.

Lamont will be open continuously between Sunday, April 22 at 9 a.m. and Saturday, May 12 at 5 p.m. The decision to launch the pilot was the result of a perfect intersection of student involvement, the changing library landscape, and the College’s quest for more student access to study spaces during this busiest time of the semester.

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“The wonderful collaboration among the College, the Undergraduate Council Student Life Committee and the library staff made this pilot possible. It will serve us well as a model for student-College-library planning going forward,” said Fliss.

Over the past few years, more spaces in Lamont have become available to students after regular business hours, including the café, the multimedia lab, and the technology-decked Collaborative Learning Space (B-30) and the Larsen Room. But the anecdotal demand for longer hours continues.

Student Life Committee member Chris Devine and Lamont student worker Seth Riddley, who believed there was a need for extended hours, worked with library staff to collect data by creating a survey of student opinion.  Launched in January, the survey met with a resounding response.  Sent out at 1 am, it received 800 replies by sunrise.

“In recent years, the College has been working to bolster access to spaces across campus where students can gather, both for study and for social activities,” said Dean Hammonds, BarbaraGutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies. “From opening Annenberg to students in the evening to the refurbishment of the Quincy Grill to the creation of the Queen’s Head Pub, students have more access to quality spaces than ever before.”

“ The UC survey seemed to indicate a real desire among students for additional study space during reading period and exams,” Hammonds continued.  “We wanted to work with the FAS Libraries to respond by launching this pilot at Lamont.  T he library staff at Lamont will oversee the pilot and will conduct an assessment afterwards to determine if students really took advantage of this opportunity and whether we can extend the hours during similar periods next year.  That assessment will inform our planning going forward.”

When the pilot gets underway it will be assessed to determine its viability.  The library staff will conduct hourly head counts and track how the building is being used (e. g. quiet study, group work, multimedia projects), as well as what spaces are most heavily used. 

The effort involved in keeping a library open 24/7 is significant and includes extra additional staffing by the access services, security, and custodial staff as well as higher utility usage.  A final piece of the assessment will be to look across FAS Libraries and determine whether there are adequate resources to extend Lamont hours and fairly meet the needs of the other constituent groups.

The Lamont Library pilot project represents the newest effort by the College, working with the FAS Libraries, to meet student space needs.  Since 2006, the College has added or renovated over 57,000 square feet of social space available to undergraduates. These include the Student Organization Center at Hilles, which offers campus organizations more than 50,000 square feet of versatile space, and the Quincy and Eliot House Grilles.

In November 2011, the College announced plans for additional enhancements to undergraduate social spaces across campus, including the new Mather Multimedia Lab, the Eliot Grille activity space, the Cabot Café, and the Quad Grille lounge space in Pforzheimer House.  Also beginning in November, the College opened Annenberg Hall in the evenings to serve as gathering place where students could study or socialize.  Further improvements are also planned for the Student Organization Center at Hilles.