Info Commons now open 24 hours a day

By Stephen Slessor

It’s 3 a.m., your computer blew a fuse and your final paper is due in five hours. Don’t panic. Head to the university library.
As of Nov. 1, the Information Commons at MacKimmie Library is open 24 hours a day, except for Friday and Saturday nights. Students have around-the-clock access to computer and reference material on the second floor of the Library Block and Link.

"This has been a long time coming," said third-year Commerce and International Relations student Tyler Brekko at 6:30 a.m. last Monday. He said he arrived at 6 a.m. to take advantage of the extra hours to catch up on school work. He doesn’t have a computer at home and appreciates the increased accessibility.

Fourth-year History student Christa Big Canoe–with four papers due this week, two on Monday alone–arrived at 5 a.m. She said she also liked the new hours.

"I have such a heavy workload, I might as well have choice," she said. A regular late-night/early-morning user of the Information Commons, she remembered when she used to be kicked out of campus computer labs at closing time, before finishing her work.

"The improvements with the Information Commons make computers a lot more accessible," she remarked. "[Now,] if you have to, you can stay."

A $250, 000 donation to the Students’ Union, which was turned over to the library, facilitated the extended hours. According to Information Commons Project Manager Lori Van Rooijen, the decision to direct the money to 24-hour computing arose from two factors: first, surveyed students had repeatedly requested longer hours for computer access; second, there was a need to offset the heavy load during the day.

"[The Information Commons] has become the place to be on campus," said Van Rooijen. "We’re seeing an increase in use over time."

Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. saw only four students plus staff in the library. However, newly-hired Information Commons Night Assistant Penny Bissonette noted there were 40 at the start of her shift at 11 p.m. The previous Tuesday, she counted 60 at the busiest point and 14 at the quietest. She’s not surprised by the number of students who choose to burn the midnight oil.

"This normally happens on campus anyhow, it just didn’t happen here," said Bissonette. "They usually did it in dorms or where-ever."

"Many students prefer to work in the evening, and are more creative at that time," said Van Rooijen.

Brekko echoed her comment, saying many people think best at night. However, he admitted extended hours also cater to desperate students with assignments due the next day.
One concern with the extended hours is security. The library hired employees to address this: two staff members are on duty at all times to assist students with problems; two Commissionaires provide supervision, coordinated by Campus Security; and the library plans to install six fully-monitored security cameras. Campus Security Manager Lanny Fritz noted there were no incidents since the opening and he doesn’t anticipate any.

"We have no problems or concerns," he said.

Van Rooijen believes a sense of ownership will motivate students to take care of the facility by themselves.
According to Bissonette, the biggest problem so far is keeping food and drink out. Students have to pull all nighters without the traditional cup of coffee for fuel.

A lack of caffeine notwithstanding, both Brekko and Big Canoe indicated they will be back.

The Information Commons is open round-the-clock Sunday at 10 a.m. until Friday at 5:45 p.m., and then is open Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.