24-Hour Libraries at Monash

The infamous ‘all-nighter’ is something undeniably entrenched within university culture. Embraced by some and feared by others, it does raise numerous questions about student life in the current era.

Numerous libraries within Australia – and overseas – have seen 24-hour library access come into fruition. But is this unhealthy? Should universities provide students with unrestricted access to study spaces?

Many senior administrators argue against providing all-night access, suggesting students shouldn’t be studying late at night to ensure an adequate amount of sleep. However, as legitimate as these concerns are, the University shouldn’t have its priorities set on regulating the behavior of students.

Do those calling the shots understand how students actually study? Do they understand the current pressures and responsibilities we have? There is greater pressure for us to take on part-time work on top of our university studies, and there are even more expectations put upon us that are required for students to achieve that ‘dream job’. To cope with the cutthroat corporate environment, graduates’ CVs are expected to be full of extra-curricular activities, which require students to volunteer large portions of their time during their degree. Again, this pressures students to shift their priorities and re-allocate their already scarce time.

Therefore, if an aim of Monash is to achieve higher employability rankings, and a higher quality of education, services that assist with the overall learning environment should be implemented.

Leaving the debate of the importance of 24-hour libraries aside, in terms of feasibility exclusive 24-hour study zones on campus to specific faculties and programs already exist. Thus we can only assume it cannot be impossible to open libraries for an extra eight hours.

Universities overseas have implemented trials to assess whether overnight libraries are a viable service. Recently, Leeds, Kings and Reading Universities have all shown to understand the growing demand – which is shown in Australia as well, with 24-hour programs at institutions such as the University of Melbourne, Swinburne University, Murdoch University, and the University of Tasmania to name a small few.

Many students have shown interest and support for a 24-hour library service. Monash libraries undertake surveys every two years, and 24-hour access is a constant trend – with students giving this a ranking of 6.25 out of 7 in terms of importance in the last survey. Similarly, on the Facebook page ‘Monash Stalkerspace’, there was a large discussion around this issue. An overwhelming majority of the students engaged in the discussion supported the 24-hour service. Moreover, a survey released by the MSA a little over a month ago showed that 90% of respondents considered an overnight program to be a significantly important issue.
Considering the level of student support, the university should heavily consider the proposal. This is even more appropriate bearing in mind students are even more connected to the university services, now paying a Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) of just under $300. With the University receiving a significant proportion of this, shouldn’t students expect to expand services as a result?

The MSA has been running a campaign to seek longer library hours for two fortnightly periods throughout the year – SWOTVAC, and the first week of exams. This period sees the largest demand for study spaces, as well as the highest demand for longer study time. The MSA survey shows over a third of student raise their study load from 6-10 hours a week during semester to more than 25 hours during exams. Furthermore, 98.29% of the 700-odd respondents stated that they would utilise a longer service. With this large demand, let us hope Monash responds positively and listens to the concerns of students.

Ben Knight

The author Ben Knight

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