OPINION: Boise State’s library should be accessible to students 24 hours a day

Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

Boise State University offers a lot of useful and versatile study spaces to its students, from the library to the Student Union Building to the Interactive Learning Center. These spaces are great, but only when we have access to them. 

The largest and most accessible study space on campus is the Albertsons Library, which is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday with shorter hours the rest of the week. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. 

The limited hours of operation leave nearly 80 hours each week where students are unable to use the library as a resource. When added up, Boise State’s library is closed for a total of three full days per week, and while it may predominantly be during the night, this is often when students have the time to study.

I spent my first year of college at the University of Idaho (U of I), and while I am grateful for my transfer experience and the opportunities I have since received, I was also wildly disappointed to discover upon transfering that unlike U of I, Boise State does not offer a 24-hour library. 

When I was attending U of I, I spent countless hours at the library late at night because that was when I had the most time to focus. The same can be said for many college students. 

Ten percent of all full-time college students in the U.S. are also employed full-time, working at least 35 hours a week, according to 2020 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. An additional 30% of college students also work part-time. 

Beyond work and school, many students have other obligations during the day such as university clubs and sports, familial obligations and internships. This leaves only evenings, nights and weekends to spend on homework and studying. 

[Photo of the Albertsons Library at Boise State University.]
Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

Unfortunately, these are also the times when the Albertsons Library is most often closed. 

At U of I, the official library hours are almost identical to Boise State’s, but students are able to use their student IDs to unlock the library after hours. 

During the pandemic, Boise State students had to use their IDs to get into the library, showing that the technology is already in place to keep the doors locked at night while still allowing students to get in.

The library at U of I was always very quiet at night — some students were studying, some typing away at computers, some reading and some even dozed off on the couches. 

Students use the library at night for countless reasons; sometimes the resident halls are too loud, sometimes students may not have Wi-Fi at home and sometimes they may just need a safe place to go. 

A study conducted at Kent State University found that when the school offered overnight library hours, roughly 21% of the student population regularly visited the library during this time. The study also found that the retention rate for undergraduates who utilized the overnight library hours was roughly 5% higher than the school’s average. 

Opening the library for 24 hours, even for only a few days of the week, would tremendously benefit the student body and is a feasible, inexpensive investment for Boise State. 

The University of Idaho’s library is not staffed overnight, but this has never created any major problems for the school. The university is able to track which students come and go during the nights, and rooms such as offices, classrooms and labs are locked while the library is “closed,” so the security risks are minimal. 

Boise State would not be required to hire additional staff to extend the library’s hours. In fact, the only real expense that would be added is an increased electricity bill due to powering more of the building overnight. 

College students are often juggling countless responsibilities in their daily lives, and it is the university’s job to support their students in any way possible. Students need a quiet, reliable place to study at whatever time they are available, and Boise State has the ability to provide that.

There’s no reason Albertsons Library should be dark and empty during the night when there are many students, such as myself, who would love having access to this space.

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