24-hour access to the library
I have asked several people about keeping the library open 24 hours all the time and have been informed of a few of the issues making it difficult to do so:
1) electricity costs: I was told that one of the reasons that it would be too costly to keep the library open 24-hours all semester long is the cost of electricity. From what I have seen, most of the lights and all of the computers in the library stay on all night anyways, so, with the exception of a few lights being on, the electricity bill would not change considerably.
2) security: the cost of having an extra 8-hour shift for security could easily be absorbed over a population of so many students. Only one more would be needed to patrol the library at night time.
3) cleanup: the cleaning crew could work the same as when the library is open 24-hours during the final exam period. Nothing would change with respect to their ability to work. As for their capacity to clean more and the fear that there will be more garbage with students studying longer hours, perhaps the issue is that people are being allowed to bring food into the library.
From talking to security about this, I know that many of them are frustrated that even if they catch someone eating, they do not have the authority to do anything (like giving a fine, for example) so people are not afraid to bring food in and this is a large part of why our library often looks like a pig-sty during exam periods.
Perhaps giving them more authority would cause people to respect the rules of the library a little more (noise, cleanliness, etc), which would make it easier to keep the library open for longer. Many of us have long projects due throughout the course of the semester, and by the time the library starts being open 24-hours, our work is mostly done and submitted.
Also, many of us work better at night, or work during the day. It is easier for some to study at night, but the only way to do this is by paying for a coffee at Second Cup or Tim Hortons, both of which are open 24-hours, however this is not a viable option for those who do not have the funds to be constantly be paying rent, nor is it helpful to those who need a quiet environment to study productively.
The University Librarian agrees with you that extending 24-hour access to the Libraries – especially Webster Library – throughout the Fall and Winter terms would be a great way to help students. Unfortunately, the costs quickly add up to a 6-figure annual total for each library when security, additional cleaning, and air-conditioning/heating is taken into account. We are actively looking for ways to cover those costs, and would be happy to hear any suggestions our students might have.