Late Night Studying at the PCL: A Photo Story
It might be a library. But visually, there is so much more than meets the eye.
By Rachel Bush, Rabeea Tahir, and Ingrid Vasquez
For some students, the 24/5 initiative, in which the Perry-Casteñeda Library is open for 24 hours a day, five days a week from midterms to finals, is something that is taken for granted. But for former UT student government president Wills Brown, he remembers a time in the not-so-distant past when it was difficult to find anywhere to study that was open late.
“After my sophomore year, budget cuts took away any 24 hour study spaces,” Brown said. “Only the Union was open until 3 a.m.”
When Brown and his friend, Thor Lund, decided to run for student government president and vice-president in the spring of 2012, both knew they needed “new and fresh ideas” to campaign upon. Brown and Lund decided to base their campaign platform on making the PCL a 24 hour study space.
“Most schools within the UT system have 24 hour libraries,” Brown said. “We wondered why the flagship university didn’t have one.”
Students were receptive to the idea and when Brown and Lund won the election in March 2012, they quickly met with library staff to begin planning for the endeavor. PCL staff was receptive to the 24 hour study initiative, but decided to conduct preliminary research on library usage before any decisions were made.
“There are as many students, or people, who are logged onto our PC’s and wireless network at 3 a.m. as there are at noon,” said Catherine Hamer, Associate Director for User Services at the PCL.
The library’s research found that the cost of operating the PCL 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week would take an additional $319,000 per year. Library staff realized that the PCL did not need to be open 24 hours-a-day on weekends or during school holidays, and from the research conducted, there was even more evidence that and that is when the 24/5 initiative was proposed.
In the new proposal, the PCL would be open 24 hours-a-day from Sunday to Thursday from midterms until finals. With this new operating schedule, the library would only need to procure an extra $45,500 in funding, which Brown and Lund took charge of raising.
“We worked with Texas Exes, the Provost of Libraries,the athletic department, and many others to generate the $45,000 needed to open PCL for 24 hours,” Brown said.
Another struggle facing the initiative was that of security. During the day, the PCL employs two security guards to oversee the building, and the new library schedule would be no different.
“We do have two guards overnight,” Hamer said. “Our Vice-Provost was really adamant that if we were open overnight we would have to have an additional security guard in the building because we’ve always had one at the entrance of the PCL. He was concerned that it was such a big building and there would be times when there were a lot of students in here, which is great because you feel like you have security in numbers, but then there might be times when we’re open 24 hours when it might not feel so safe.”
Since its inception, the 24/5 initiative has been a success. The problem the library now faces is that students want the 24/5 schedule before midterms start. Hamer said that starting the 24/5 hours earlier in the semester is something the library would be open to exploring, should they find the funds to pay for the extended hours.
Brown can now look back on his part in helping to begin the 24 hour study space at the PCL and finds that, although it was his campaign that ultimately brought about the change, the initiative goes beyond him.
“It’s not about me or anyone else in student government,” Brown said. “It couldn’t have happened without UT Athletics and many other groups. It’s awesome to see it’s still going on and students are benefiting from it.”Many students seemed to wonder why having PCL open 24/7 was not an option. Considering the library has limited funding, here is a breakdown of what the cost would be if PCL were to be open 24/7 during the FALL/SPRING semesters and if it were to be open during the entire year.
More than a voice: Sasan Rezaie
People know the voice of the PCL. But do people know who the voice really is? This is an interview conducted with Sasan Rezaie by Rachel Bush, editing by Ingrid Vasquez, and collaboration with Rabeea Tahir.