Fondren Library Center will not be open 24/5 during the 2015-2016 academic year as it has been in the past. In this decision this year, we carefully considered two major factors: the library renovation and usage statistics.
First, the current major renovation is having a significant impact on the library. Each floor in the library will be closed at various points this academic year. The main stairwell in Fondren will also be completely closed late in the fall semester. New pathways from the south side by Hughes-Trigg and from the DeGolyer entrance are being created to improve navigation through the building. We are moving shelving and relocating major collections, as well as moving all staff offices at least once. While the renovation is occurring throughout the year, we are concerned with limited availability of study rooms and study spaces, as well as the safety and security of our students overnight during construction.
The second factor in the decision to limit hours this year was an analysis of student usage of the library during overnight hours. Over the past two years, we have tracked numbers of students in the library through security guard counts. We discovered that library usage dropped significantly between the hours of 11pm and 3am during 24/5 hours. Usage of the library surged the week before and during Finals. Given the drop in usage overnight and the risk to students in a building undergoing major construction, we decided to reduce hours this year, but to remain open 24/7 during the last two and a half weeks of each semester. Once the renovation is complete, we will reassess library hours for the 2016-2017 academic year.
We are all committed to providing students with excellent service throughout the renovation which will end in July 2016. Library staff are able to retrieve books for students on closed floors, and we have an excellent Interlibrary Loan service to request any items we don’t have available. We also have the Ask a Librarian service which is an excellent way to get help without coming into the building.
While it is painful now, when the renovation is complete, you will have a new Centennial Reading Room, a redesigned Learning Commons, a Collaborative Computing Area, a new Starbucks Café, and a refurbished fourth floor for quiet study. You will also have improvements in navigation throughout the building, as well as improved study spaces on the Science Library side of the building.
We appreciate all feedback as we go through this year. Please email again with any other concerns or ideas. You are also welcome to join the Central University Libraries Student Advisory Council to provide input throughout the year on how we can improve our services. The Student Advisory Council meets in Fondren Library the third Monday of every month at 3 PM. You can also keep tabs on the renovation through our renovation blog.