By Marcelle Rutherfurd
Students returned to campus from spring break to find that the library had posted a notice reducing the open hours on Saturday. Saturdays are not a common time to be in the library, but the loss of a free study space an hour earlier than normal had students wondering why the change was made.
“We have always opened at 9 in the morning on Saturdays — there is no change to the hours of the library opening for Puget Sound students, faculty and staff. The change is in card access. This means students can still access the library but will need card access until 11:00 a.m. We are closing one hour earlier on Saturday evenings based on the use figures, but also to align our full-time staff member’s hours with the new time that she is working on Saturday,” Jane Carlin, the Library Director, said.
From now on the Library will be staffed by student employees from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This change was made due to the fact that the full-time library staff work incredibly long and late hours so that the library can be open as much as it is during the week. The restriction on the time the library is open with just students running the show was made due to safety concerns.
“After the Parkland tragedy we had some communication from a student that prompted us to consider how we might enhance our commitment to a safe and secure space. … We have library staff working in the building from 7:30 a.m. through our late-night closing at 2 a.m.” Carlin said.
“Saturday morning was the only time in which we did not have a library staff member along with our student employees. The library is very large, has many nooks and crannies and is a big building to monitor. We felt that restricting access to members of our community in the early-morning hours and altering our Saturday staff hours to start at 11 a.m. (when the library is open to the public) was a step in recognizing the contributions of our early-morning student employees, while at the same time providing a little more security for those student employees,” Carlin continued.
The concerns about library safety are valid, especially considering the size of the building and the fact that access is open during the week. This is why the library hires student security guards, works with Security Services, and even hires an independent contracting firm to maintain the security of the building. As one of the main hubs of activity on campus, it requires more surveillance. The restricted hours and access on Saturday will allow for a safer library experience for the whole campus.
As for the fact that the library will now be staffed solely by students on Saturday, this provides a welcome break for the full-time staff who work extensive hours during the week.
“I bet a lot of students do not know that the staff that work the circulation desk work a lot of split shifts to keep the library open for them. I am always so appreciative of their effort. We have a staff member who opens the library in the morning, Chris Dowd, often here before 7 a.m. to get everything ready and she has never missed a morning — rain, snow or ice,” Carlin said.
“We also have a late-evening supervisor, Tracie Clawson, who works until closing and often does not leave the library until 2:30 or 3 in the morning. The other circulation staff members, Debbie Hill and Cassandra Palmore, alter their hours to ensure there is someone here during evenings and weekends!” Carlin continued.
During the Board of Trustees visit, the school remained open despite the fact that there was heavy snow and ice in Tacoma and on the roads. The library staff did not change their hours during this time, and still drove their commutes to and from school despite the weather. Their commitment to the campus community is impressive, to say the least.
The change in the library hours and access times won’t affect the whole campus on a major scale, but they will affect student employees of the library and full-time library staff. If students have to leave the library early on Saturday (or fumble to get their LoggerCard out to swipe in during the day), it’s a small price to pay for the level of service and commitment that the library provides to the campus community.