Twenty-four hours a day, five days a week. Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Stapleton Library is now operating under its long-anticipated extended hours.
From 11 a.m. on Sundays to 7 p.m. on Fridays, the first floor of the Stapleton Library will remain open to IUP students, faculty and staff. Saturday hours (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) have not been changed.
The 24/5 schedule began Sunday but was put on pause Tuesday after inclement weather forced an unexpected closing approximately 10 minutes before midnight.
The library reopened at noon Wednesday, and, winter-weather permitting, it is scheduled to stay open until 7 p.m. Friday.
With the new hours come new security measures. Anyone staying in or entering the library after 12:45 a.m. must check in at the circulation desk using a valid I-Card, according to the “IUP Libraries 24/5 Hours ‘Kick Off’” news item on the IUP Libraries’ Web page.
“This is a place for our students,” said Blaine Knupp, a public services librarian for IUP. “It’s heavily monitored. We have video cameras all over, and they’re all hooked up to the TV monitors so that our security people can keep an eye out.”
The library is in the process of hiring a permanent, full-time security guard for the 12:45 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. shift, but the change in hours started without a new guard in place, Knupp said.
“Hopefully by the end of February that person will be there,” Knupp said. “But in order to open [the library] 24/5 now, we did hire some graduate students as security monitors.”
Emily Vargo (first-year graduate student, public affairs) and Linda Herrera (second-year graduate student, criminology) are two such security monitors.
Both graduate students have attended other universities with 24-hour libraries. Herrera studied abroad in Mexico and Korea and said the universities she attended kept their libraries open 24/7 as a courtesy to students.
Vargo, who earned her undergraduate degree at Penn State University, said some of PSU’s libraries functioned similarly to Stapleton’s new model.
“They do 24 hours,” Vargo said, “but they shut down other floors.”
IUP’s library resources are limited to the first floor during the extended hours. The doors to the ground, second and third floors are locked, the elevator is shut off and the various service desks are closed.
“There’s no service at circulation,” Knupp said. “They close off media. “You can’t check books out unless you use the self-checkout machine.”
Although the service areas are closed, the first floor’s computer lab, pods and printers are available to students around the clock.
“I bet a lot of people will come in to use the printer,” Vargo said after seeing a student enter the library roughly around 1:15 a.m. and leave just before 1:30 a.m.
The potential meeting place for group projects will bring other students.
Vargo, who was supposed to work Tuesday night before the unexpected closing, said one student had planned to meet with a group for a class.
“We found out we were closing, and she didn’t know what to do,” Vargo said. “It makes sense. You don’t want to take a group to your apartment or dorm room and disrupt your roommate when your group is trying to do its thing.”
After-midnight hours might seem like odd times for study sessions, but some students like Thomas Paronish (senior, geology) are used to working late and can appreciate the atmosphere of the library no matter the time of day.
Paronish said he does work in one of Weyandt Hall’s laboratories and usually stays late, but because of the new 24/5 hours, he plans to come to the library.
“I like the library,” Paronish said. “I feel like I can get more work done – less distractions.”
While the new hours offer students valuable space and resources, they are on a trial run that will last until May 2015, according to the news item on the IUP Libraries’ Web page.
“We are doing it for several semesters to see what kind of response we can get,” Knupp said.
The library council is using the check-in computer at the circulation desk to monitor student traffic. The first few days have seen about 10 people per night during the extended hours, according to Herrera and Vargo.
“I think the first couple weeks, you’re not going to get too many people,” Paronish said. “I think toward finals week and when exams start picking up a little more, more people will come.”
Various students and staff said they think the extended hours will be most useful during the final exams period. After the trial run is completed next year, Knupp said certain days may remain on the 24-hour schedule
“Even if we decide not to stay open 24/5, or maybe even someday 24/7, we’re still going to try to do it during finals,” Knupp said.