Student petition yields extended library hours
by Catherine Szabo
Mount Royal University’s classrooms aren’t the only place where good ideas are born. Danny Warwick, a second-year bachelor of science student, points to the west side of campus for the birthplace of his eureka moment. “Like any good ideas, we were talking about the issues of the day at the Lib,” he said. The conversation led to the fact that the library had adjusted its schedule due to budgeting measures, closing two hours earlier on Fridays, and removing four hours from its weekend operations. “We’re a university and we should have university hours,” Warwick continued. “We’re not a high school. So we pulled out a piece of paper and wrote ‘name, student ID and signature.’ We asked everyone in the bar (to sign the petition) and then went into Wyckham House.”
In three days, they had collected 1,000 signatures asking the library to improve its operating hours; Warwick estimates that he personally talked to about 500 people. Few people refused to sign the petition, he said, and if they did, it was because they didn’t use the library. Students in communication studies or the interior design program have their own spaces to work, he pointed out. But as a science student, “I don’t have any models or diagrams to work with at home,” he said. “There’s a skeleton and vein man in the library — they’re my best study tools.” Along with Robert Jones, president of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University, and Anna Piltingsrud, VP academic, Warwick took the petition to library staff, who were very open to the proposal, Piltingsrud said.“The library is definitely on the radar for the students’ association,but having that petition and that push from students really helped things,” Piltingsrud said.
“I think it made them react a little bit faster because there were so many students interested and wanting the library hours returned.” Carol Shepstone, University librarian, said she was surprised at how many people were in the library on a Friday, logically assuming many students would want to be out with friends on a Friday night. “(But) our numbers on Friday afternoons doubled,” she said. “The gate count numbers just skyrocketed between 5 and 6 (p.m.) and we’re thinking, ‘Is it because there’s classes at this time, is it because (students) are trying to get what they need for the weekend.’ “I don’t think people are really dying to work on Friday, I just think that they’re here longer because of course scheduling.”
Student usage of the library jumped four per cent from September 2009 to September 2010, Shepstone said, even though the overall population of MRU didn’t increase by the same amount. These new operating hours will begin once additional casual staff members are hired. Shepstone said she would like to see that happen no later than January. The library will also switch to their extended exam hours soon for students wishing to use the space to study for finals.