New Library Policy Ends Study Room Reservations

The O’Malley Library has recently updated its policies on group study rooms by keeping all doors unlocked and unregulated for unlimited student use.

Last October, The Quadrangle reported on library policies that could potentially result in students being charged for failure to return keys after three hours of use, with a one-hour grace period.

Since then, William Walters, executive director of the library, promised to reconsider school policies on the usage of study rooms, which has led to the most recent development.

Library study rooms no longer require reservations or renewals.  In fact, the doors no longer lock, so that students can simply find an open room and use it for as long as they need it.

“The main goal is to make [the study rooms] more accessible,” Walters said.

Anthony Capote/The Quadrangle
A typical study room in the O’Malley Library. Anthony Capote/The Quadrangle

Walters, who has spent time “at several other universities” says he has never seen a system that required rooms to be reserved.

“I asked not in any formal survey, but just talking to students how they would feel about this change,” Walters said, “I found that it was sort of mixed, half would like the change and half would not like the change.”

Walters also did research involving the Oberlin Group, a coalition of about 80 liberal arts colleges in the country who share library systems, about how those schools dealt with group study rooms concerns.

The results of that survey show that on average, 60 percent of schools from all three groups operate on a first-come-first-served system for group study rooms.

However, the new system includes a sign on each study room floor with a number on it.  That number indicates to students the minimum number of students that should be using the space.

Some rooms require as little as two people, and others as many as six.

Students should know that as long as the room is open, any group of any size can use the room until a group that has the minimum number of students or more requests access. If this happens, the group of students that does not meet the minimum number for the room has to leave.

“They want a certain number of people in there to justify using the room,” said Andre Santiago, who works at the circulation desk in the library, “It’s pretty much 50/50, some people like it because it absolves us of having to sort of having to police the students, but it makes some of us worry because we don’t know what’s going to happen when students feel like they need to defend their room space.”

Students share this concern, fearing that when homework, and subsequently, library use starts to pick up, the system will crumble on itself.

“I think people are going being annoyed by the new policy and people are going to get into arguments over it,” junior Anderson Garcia said.

“It’s certainly been in the back of mind,” Walters said, ”but I just have to trust that people are going to be nice.”

It should be noted, however, that system is still in its trial stages, certain issues that exist now, such as certain not remaining shut and the looming fear of theft from an unlocked, unoccupied room will be resolved as the semester goes on.

Walters and the library staff have not ruled out the possibility to reverting to the old system or trying to find an entirely new solution.

“I don’t think this policy is here to stick around,” sophomore Sean Potter said, “I think this is just a temporary fix and if they do keep this policy, there are going to be a lot of complaints.”