During the past term discussion of the Lamont extra-hours problem has at times seemed as insistent as the buzzing of the library's fluorescent lights. And usually the attempts to solve the study problem have been as futile as pleas for quieting the lights. It is with particular delight, then, that we note Mr. McNiff's latest statements. He has recognized the clear necessity of lengthened study arrangements during exam periods and he has indicated that the library will continue some sort of extension this spring. But the need for extra hours does not mean that the library should be open every evening and Sunday. We suggest that a compromise plan--were the Administration willing to take certain steps--could be just as adequate for undergraduate needs.
Lamon't figure conclusively show that students used the extra time on Sundays. At 3 p. m. on Sunday, January 23 there were 468 students in Lamont, more than half of the peak total for a single day in the examination period. The various House libraries could not have handled those studying at Lamont on Sundays, for they were also full on Sunday afternoons. Thirty-seven Winthrop House students, for instance, were occupied in their library, which has an estimated "comfortable capacity" of 35, on the 23rd.
In contrast with this high attendance on Sundays were the late evening weekday figures. At 11.15 p. m. on an average exam period evening, only 269 were studying in Lamont. If these students had all been upperclassmen whose House libraries could not accommodate them, we might justifiably demand that Lamont be kept open past 10 p. m. for their convenience. Desk Three slips show fairly conclusively, however, that most late studiers were freshmen, driven to the library because of the poor study conditions in the older dormitories. An adequate freshman study hall after 10 p. m., then, could be a reasonable solution. Yale, recently faced with the same problem, built a new freshman study hall on its Old Campus.
But even mentioning a freshman study hall brings back some unpleasant memories. Obviously a "study hall" such as that offered in the basement of Memorial Church two years ago is no answer to the problem. Efficient studying demands quiet, good light, and comfort. Opening several of the large first floor lecture rooms of Sever Hall--refinished and relighted only a few years ago--would be comparatively inexpensive and convenient, even if not as comfortable as Lamont. If Sever is unavailable, there are enough other lecture rooms around the Yard to provide adequate space.
Mr. McNiff has indicated that he may modify the extended hours program this spring. He is justified in doing so, but a word of warning is in order. While we would like to see Lamont open long enough to suit every student's convenience, we realize that economy is also necessary to keep tuition low. But economy must be balanced against education; extra hours must not be sacrificed to budgetary demands. We must insist that Sunday hours at Lamont be retained and freshmen be provided with study space in the evening. If an adequate study hall cannot be procured, the University must keep Lamont open in the evening, expensive or not.