Lamont To Open 24/7 for Exams

UPDATED: April 12, 2012, at 4:31 p.m.

Lamont Library will remain open 24/7 during reading period and final exams this semester, according to a press release issued by the Harvard College Library on Wednesday.

Interim Librarian of Harvard College Susan M. Fliss said this pilot program will determine whether or not the undergraduate library will open nonstop during exams in future semesters.

Christopher A. Devine ’13 and Seth A. Riddley ’12, Undergraduate Council representatives, began discussing the idea of 24/7 Lamont access in November, when Riddley, who works at Lamont Library, noticed an increasing number of students still in the library when it closed at 10 p.m. on Friday nights.

“When Seth told me how many students he would have to turn away and how they asked him where else they could study, I knew this was a problem,” said Devine, who heads the UC’s Student Life Committee. “People should have a place where they can study comfortably on the weekends without distractions.”

In February, the UC sent out a survey to gauge whether there was enough student interest to extend Lamont library’s hours. About 1,800 undergraduates filled it out.

UC Secretary Michael C. George, who is also a Crimson news editor, said that the survey showed that “during reading and finals period, all regular users of Lamont, including upperclassmen, wanted to extend hours.”

Council representatives then presented their findings to library staff.

“When we said that we were interested in seeing if we could run a pilot of these extended hours, everyone said that they thought this was a great idea,” Fliss said. “This shows how much the staff really cares for the students.”

She noted that the extended hours will require extra expenditures on the part of the library for costs like security personnel and utility usage.

After the pilot program, Fliss will determine in conjunction with Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds whether the program should be continued in the future. Staff will conduct hourly head counts and keep detailed reports on how students use the building. Library officials also plan to open normally inaccessible rooms in Lamont for student use.

Lamont’s hours have undergone drastic change since the 1950s, when students fought for the library to be open on Sundays. It was only in 2005 that the UC spearheaded a push that led to Lamont’s current 24/5 system.

When asked about the possibility of opening Lamont 24/7 for the entire school year, Fliss said that the library staff could consider that after the trial run.

“We’re going to see how Lamont is used during the upcoming reading period and evaluate that first,” she said. “We’ll learn from that and go from there for next year.”

—Staff writer Michelle Denise L. Ferreol can be reached at mferreol@college.harvard.edu.

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