In February of this year, Judge Business School Library service went over to 24/7 opening, with members having access outside of staffed hours via swipecard. We decided to try this out for a number of reasons:
- To finally succumb to demand. This had been requested by students for many years via the staff-student committee and the annual library survey. In fact, in the 2008 survey it was the most requested improvement, cited by 29% of respondents.
- Because as a business school that considers itself to be world-class, arguably we could no longer justify the limited opening hours of 9am to 7pm.
- In order to provide a more flexible and customer-focused service to our users.
The main arguments against the move to 24/7 were as follows:
- the security of the staff area (specifically the lack of lockable cupboards and shelving at the open Library Desk)
- the fact that we only had a self-issue terminal so users couldn’t return books after hours
- the fear that materials would be removed from the Library without being loaned
- and finally, the possibility of more food and drink debris and the related need for more cleaners
Thankfully the first two points could be easily remedied with a bit of cash injection for furniture modification and a self-return module for our existing 3M terminal, while the second two were always going to be more ‘suck it and see’.
As far as I was concerned, and as I repeated at length to nay-sayers, if a few books did go missing, then in the grand scheme of things that wasn’t too important. What was much more significant was that the overall service would be vastly improved and expectations (particularly of our North American students) would be met. I also wasn’t too interested in exactly how many people would use the library after staffed hours, as the willingness to go 24/7 and the message that would sent about our service was far more important than the reality of use.
So 4 months down the line how has it gone? Well I’m pleased to say that very few books have gone missing, the Library is no dirtier than before and usage has been higher than I imagined, especially between 7 and 9pm and during the pre-lecture 7am-9am slot. As for the praise we’ve received, well, quite frankly its been embarrassingly good. In the annual Library survey, students variously described the new 24/7 opening as fantastic, excellent and even ‘heaven-sent’. To say that 24/7 has proved popular is something of an understatement.
All that and not one mention of Arkwright, Granville and Nurse Gladys Emmanuel. So to put that right:
Granville: I’ve got the blood of poets and lovers in my veins.
Arkwright: [as Granville leaves] Yes. And at least one electrician.