Recent budget cuts and the ensuing reassignment of some staff have led to some unpredictability and inconsistencies in library schedules. With the exception of a few departmental libraries, including the Commerce Library, which carried out methodologically appropriate studies of its user patterns and recommended a slight reduction in hours based on the studies’ results, information about projected library use may be based more on perception than hard data.
Although it is clear that not all libraries can or should be open the exact same hours, it is equally clear that some inconsistencies and all unpredictability are not acceptable to our users. I recommend that the following factors be considered in our development of a practical model:
- Security and safety concerns for a library’s staff are raised when libraries on the same floor are not in sync with one another. Coverage by library security is also affected, most often with closing times;
- The size of the library’s staff (including GAs and student employees) and services offered directly affect what hours the departmental library may be open;
- A library’s perceived user population may not coincide with the actual user population, so checking with the library’s home department regarding potential use may not coincide with actual demand for that library’s services;
- The needs of other Library units, such as IRRC, should not be subverted;
- Predictability and consistency of hours fosters higher use of and confidence in the library system and contributes to learning and research.
These factors suggest a model of opening and closing hours that may allow some variability across our 42 public service points, depending on the factors mentioned. No one uniform opening and closing time will satisfy all libraries.
A. To achieve a predictable consistency within the constraints of staffing and services provided we should group libraries by staff size and other factors and maintain consistent hours within each group:
- Non-standard class and exam schedules (Law, University High School)
- Late night and exam hours supported by the Provost (Grainger and Undergrad)
- large service points in Main and ACES (Circulation, Reference/Information Desk, Education and Social Sciences, Commerce)
- service points with substantial tech services functions as well as public services (Asian, Government Documents, Newspaper, Rare Books, Slavic and EE, University Archives)
- medium size service points (Applied Life Studies, Architecture and Art, Biology, Chemistry, English, Geology, History and Philosophy, Library and Info Science, Mathematics, Modern Languages & Linguistics, Music, Vet Med)
- small libraries with no more than 2 permanent FTE (i.e. librarian and civil service staff) (WAGR, Africana, Afro-Americana, City Planning, Classics, Communications, Illinois Historical Survey, Labor, Latin American, Map and Geography, Natural History, Physics/Astronomy, Sousa
B. Collect data on library use on which to base future schedules
Decisions regarding public service hours are best based in part on concrete data. If your division’s libraries were asked to give supporting data for your current hours, would you be able to do this? What would you need to do in order to provide this type of data?
Process and Timeline
Discuss in divisions and suggest alternatives.
Confirm plan at March 15 Administrative Council meeting.