A graduate student report is calling on the University to extend library hours so that they fall in line with practices seen across the Ivy League.
On Jan. 30, 2014, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate released a “Library Hours Proposal” comparing Bass and Sterling Memorial Library’s hours of operation to similar facilities at other Ivy League schools. The report proposes extending Bass Library’s weekend hours, lengthening Sterling Memorial Library’s weekly hours to match those of Bass and creating a universal around-the-clock study space — potentially Bass, due to its central location. According to GPSS members who worked with administrators on the proposal, next year’s University budget includes measures that explore these recommendations.
“Graduate and professional students at Yale are consistently dissatisfied with library accessibility and the availability of study space,” the report says. “To properly address the academic needs raised by students, library hours should be extended starting with Bass and then [Sterling].”
Pointing out that every other Ivy League school excep Princeton has at least one library with a 24-hour study space during the week, the report was the result of collaboration between Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley, Provost Ben Polak and leaders of the GPSS and Graduate Student Assembly.
GSA Representative Brian Dunican GRD ’15 said graduate students have been advocating for the extension of library hours for years, and that the prospect of the University’s budget proposal including these changes is encouraging.
“One of the proposals for the budget is to extend library hours,” said GPSS Advocacy Chair Lauren Tilton GRD ’16, who helped write the 2014 proposal. “We will know when they come out with the new budget. I’ve been told that it’s on the set of requests for the upcoming year’s budget.”
The GPSS proposes that Yale adopt a plan for a study space similar to the University of Pennsylvania’s Van Pelt Library, which keeps the first floor open to ID holders 24 hours a day, all week. Although the specific changes made in the budget proposal remain unclear, Dunican was among graduate student leaders who said these changes should not be incremental.
Cooley said in an email that the administration is reviewing requests made by the GPSS and GSA, which include extending Bass Library’s weekend hours by three hours on both Saturday and Sunday.
Yale libraries’ weekend hours are also the shortest among its peer institutions, the report says: While Yale’s peer institutions keep their libraries open for an average of 156.8 hours a week, Bass Library is open 103 hours a week. A GPSS survey sent before the report found that 52 percent of 736 respondents did not rate weekend hours positively, while 30 percent were dissatisfied with weekday hours. Other students surveyed by GPSS were unhappy primarily with the closure of study space rather than access services.
“The library is essential. It’s the single most important facility on campus, especially for humanities students,” Guojun Wang GRD ’15 said. Wang added that although Center for Science and Social Science Information offers a 24-hour study space, it is not as comfortable as either Sterling or Bass.
Other graduate students interviewed said Yale’s libraries currently have schedules that do not align with a graduate student schedule of scholarly research that continues through spring and summer breaks. Unlike undergraduates, who have 24-hour access to residential college libraries, graduate students find it difficult to find quiet space to study, the report said.
“I think the true reason [the University] has not changed anything about the library hours is that the undergraduate libraries have 24[-hour] access already,” said Dunican. “The demand for central library spaces is coming mostly from the graduate and professional students.”
The Sterling Memorial Library book stacks contain four million volumes, and Bass Library houses 150,000 volumes.