2 am Closing Pilot Project — Winter 2015
During the winter semester of 2015, Thompson Library (in conjunction with Student Life) ran a trial of later closing hours to determine the user demand and cost effectiveness of remaining open until 2 am.
The library was open until 2 am for a total of 56 days during the Winter 2015 semester.
The 2 am closing would add 8 additional hours per week to our standard 92 hours of operation, taking us to a total of 100 hours per week.
During this period, we did not add new personnel. This put considerable hardship on our current staff. However, the project was intended only to determine demand at this time. Sufficient demand for library operations extending to 2 am permanently would lead the library to implement phase two; hiring new personnel to cover the additional operational hours.
Detailed statistics of building usage were kept throughout the trial period, both by date and by hour. Therefore, we now have records of numbers of people in the building at various hours of the day and on various days of the week.
As is usual for the library, during the week before final exams (known as Study Week) the library remained open 24 hours (Monday – Thursday), closing finally at 8 pm on Friday of Study Week.
As would be assumed, the statistics for the special 24 hour period were statistically very different from the usage statistics for the overall semester, and were therefore NOT included in this project.
In general, while some students did choose to come to the library between midnight and 2 am, the study did not show a continuing or increasing number of students in the building after the standard closing time of 12 midnight during the trial period. That is to say, the usage from midnight to 2 am was insignificant compared to our overall operation statistics.
Average usage figures for the entire semester did turn up some interesting statistics. We will provide the simple count numbers within this article and offer links to the full study documentation for those who would like to see the detailed numbers gathered in this study.
Interesting facts gleaned from the study:
- The largest number of students using the library in the evenings were in the building at 10 pm. (Median number for semester: 37 people.)
- The least number of students using the library in the evenings were counted at 1 am (Median number for semester: 7 people.)
- Maximum number of people in the building were here in the evenings at 10 pm during semester: 90 people.
- Least number of people in building were at 12 am and 1 am during semester: 0 people.
- Most usage during evenings in the winter semester were on Monday evenings at 10 pm.
- Least usage during evenings in the winter semester were on Thursday evenings at 1 am.
- Maximum usage for evenings at 10 pm (Monday through Thursday) was 90 people, with the minimum usage at 7 people.
- Maximum usage for evenings at 1 am (Monday through Thursday) was 30 people, with the minimum at 0 people.
- Highest usage of the building across the board (time-wise) was on Monday evenings.
- Lowest usage of the building across the board (time-wise) was on Thursday evening.
- Fridays the library closed at 6 pm as was standard throughout the year; usage during Fridays was not affected by this trial project.
- Interestingly, the second half of the semester (March & April) saw higher usage statistics than the first half of the semester (January & February). Correlations could be drawn between students learning how to use the library (through instructional sessions, instructions from the teachers, help from friends or basic trial-and-error) during the first half of the semester and actually using library resources productively for course work during the later half — but we have no concrete or statistical evidence to that effect, leaving such supposition in the realm of anecdotal evidence at this time.
- Our data excluded both the “24 Hour Library Study Week,” and Spring Break week which would have skewed our data with both abnormal increases and decreases of statistical imbalances.
- All maximum daily statistics were set either on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 (the second Study Day) or on Thursday, April 23, 2015 (the first day of Final Exams), again anecdotally consistent with student use of the library.
As the graph demonstrates (see brief below), usage rose steadily and sometimes steeply each week of the semester for the 10 pm time period and — to a lesser degree — for the 11 pm time period, but rose at a much more level curve for the other time periods. The curve is far more erratic for the 11 pm and 1 am time periods, with both steep jumps up and sudden plunges downward in total building usage over the semester.
The one constant seems to be that the greatest building usage for late evenings occurs at 10 pm, with the number of people in the building dropping steadily and steeply after that time. On several days throughout the semester, there were no students in the building at all from midnight to 2 am, and on a few occasions only 2 people in the building between 11 pm and midnight.
Our staff is to be commended for the effort they put into making this study a success. Their diligence in gathering statistics (as well as making students feel welcome in our facility during the late hours) has been noteworthy.
This study has not been the first or only attempt by the library to determine our optimum operational hours. Over the past 10 years, the library has increased its hours of operation from 67 hours per week to the current 92 hours per week based on usage stats obtained through previous studies.
However, the inevitable conclusion of this study is that the demand for use of the library facility peeks at 10 pm and declines rapidly thereafter, with insufficient usage after midnight to warrant continuing this trial or expanding current hours of operation.
Therefore, library hours of operation for the upcoming fall/winter semesters will remain with Monday through Thursday opening at 8 am and closing at midnight.
For further reading, the library has posted both the brief statistical synopsis of this study and the full report of the project in .pdf’s available from the library through the links below .