Letters //

Do we really want nocturnal librarians?

A letter from Arghya Gupta.

Dear Honi,

A little article by Georgia Behrens notified me that Fisher would be trialling 24 hour access areas. Cute, but don’t we already have the Carslaw Labs (amongst Engineering, Medical, and that-place-under-Fisher after hours facilities)?

Have these people (specifically, oft quoted University librarian Anne Bell) been to any of the 24 hour access labs on campus? Not only are they noisy and crowded, they also serve as an international student hostel, a snack bar, and the closest online gaming room this side of Broadway. Having the third floor of Fisher will allow it to befall the same fate.

As an ardent student, and one who has used campus libraries until 10pm more than anyone else on campus the past three, if not seven, years (challenge presented), I can assure Ms Bell and anyone else that 24 hour study spaces are cacophony to the eyes, ears, and nose, and the furthest thing conducive to effective study.

If anyone manages to get actual study done there, they can study in the middle of the Devonshire St tunnel so as long as they have WiFi, or, you know, at home.

The other major issue which is being kindly forgotten by most, including Jen Light and previous SRC campaigners before her for the same issue, is the outcome on student mental health of the idea of a 24 hour library. Sure, many world class universities have 24 hour libraries, but has anyone done a cross-cohort study about how the sleep times, moods, and depression scales are changing by the users of such libraries? Are these libraries at least staffed for the whole 24 hours (my bet is that they’re probably more staffed than Sydney’s libraries; *zing*)?

Increased self-imposed stress, a lack of sleep, and a non-conducive environment are negative factors all round. I think before student representatives start championing the idea of extending the Carslaw Labs to an extra 40 square metres on the third floor of Fisher, it would be nonsensical to have some sort of evaluation process in place ready to go to see if this is an effective and successful idea, or whether Sydney’s world beaters end up beating themselves the most.


Arghya Gupta