Lamont To Stay Open 24 Hours

Library will operate all night for a two-year pilot period starting this fall

Corey M. Rennell

Lamont’s doors will be open to undergraduates all night long beginning this fall in a two-year pilot program. The change comes after an Undergraduate Council study showed student demand for later hours.

Starting this fall, Harvard College Libraries (HCL) will undertake a two-year pilot program to keep Lamont Library open 24 hours a day during the academic workweek, Larsen Librarian of Harvard College Nancy M. Cline told The Crimson yesterday.

This initiative—which will be funded entirely by HCL—comes on the heels of a strong push from the Undergraduate Council (UC), which published a study last month detailing Harvard students’ late-night study habits. Citing “undeniably strong student demand,” the report called for the establishment of a 24-hour library on campus.

Cline pointed to the UC report as a driving force behind the new initiative. She also explained that HCL elected to go forward with extended library hours while delaying sweeping renovations of Lamont.

Members of the Harvard community have lobbied for increased hours in the past. Heather Cole, the librarian of Hilles and Lamont Libraries, said she has been pushing for such a change since 1978.

Administrators have hesitated to respond largely owing to budgetary constraints, according to HCL and UC officials.

But Cline said yesterday that HCL has acquired sufficient funding for the two-year pilot program.

Although the UC report recommended that the College and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) pay for the additional maintenance costs of extending Lamont’s hours, HCL is currently providing those funds.

“Neither FAS nor the College is chipping in,” Cole said.

Both students and employees said they are optimistic about the benefits of extending the hours that students can work in Lamont, Harvard’s primary undergraduate library.

“This will give us a chance to attend to students’ concerns,” Cline said. “We realize that Lamont is not just a studying place—it has a wide range of resources and a good studying environment.”

UC President Matthew J. Glazer ’06 also expressed enthusiasm about HCL’s plan.

“We are tremendously excited,” he said. “We all worked very hard for this, and we are very encouraged, because it will help out so many students.”

Under the new schedule next fall, Lamont will open on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. and will not close until Fridays at 9:45 p.m.

The library will also be open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 9:45 p.m. It will close only on Friday and Saturday nights.

During the extended hours, most of the building will be accessible to students, including Circulation, Reserves, and the Morse Music Library and media center. Government Documents and Microforms, the Poetry Room, and the Forum Room will maintain their current hours and close overnight.

HCL plans to conduct an initial evaluation of the pilot program at the end of the spring 2006 semester.

In response to safety concerns, shuttle services will be extended to run throughout the night, according to Lynda Leahy, the associate librarian of Harvard College for research and instruction.

According to Cline, keeping Lamont open late will require at least four library employees to staff the building.

But Cole added that members of Lamont’s current staff do not need to worry about changing their schedules.

“We will recruit from the...pool of potential staff who are prepared to work long hours late at night,” she said.

Ryan A. Petersen ’08—who co-wrote the UC report calling for a 24-hour library along with John S. Haddock ’07—said the new hours should accomodate students’ study habits.

“The time that the libraries close right now doesn’t correlate to the time that students go to bed,” Petersen said. “Opening up the library for 24 hours might be a step in the right direction to improve students’ mental health.”

But David J. Lokshin ’08 questioned whether Lamont had to stay open the entire night. “Having it open until 3 [a.m.] would have been fine with me,” he said.

Cline, however, said that she hopes that the pilot program will help fulfill students’ needs.

“If we can do this and find a way to fund it on a continuing basis, it will be a very important investment,” she said.

—Staff writer Daniel J. T. Schuker can be reached at dschuker@fas.harvard.edu.