Scholars need consideration, longer library hours

Current hours are “penny-wise, pound-foolish” from an academic point of view.

An open letter to the University of Minnesota libraries: I am writing to you with the request to please open Wilson Library no later than at 9 a.m. on Saturdays.

At present, Wilson opens at 10 a.m., and during times when classes are not in session, it opens at noon. I have been on the faculty at the University since 1970.

Until the present library administration took over, Wilson has always opened no later than 9 a.m. on Saturdays.

This time differential is very important to me and to others as well. Speaking for myself, I keep rather conventional time schedules. And so, I am eager to begin working sooner than midmorning.

If I first get to my reference books in my carrel in Wilson at 10 a.m., I am already hungry by noon and am ready to leave for lunch.

I cannot get accomplished in a block of two hours as much as I can in a block of three hours. (Oftentimes, it takes 30 to 45 minutes just to reorganize my approach, to refocus my ideas and to generate new thoughts.)

Moreover, during periods when classes are not in session, many of us faculty, as well as many graduate students, are at our most productive, given that we are free of teaching, grading, advising.

So we need to have the library open during these intervals and to have its resources available. I find it a great hindrance that Wilson is closed until noon during such periods. And – as I keep being aware – this closure was never previously the case and is “penny-wise, pound foolish” from an academic point of view.

I will join with you in asking Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost E. Thomas Sullivan to make a few more funds available to Wilson so that it may be opened in a more timely fashion, as indicated. (Although I would also find it useful to have the library open on Sunday mornings – among other things, so as not to discriminate against Jewish and Muslim students – I will not here raise this issue, given that the library has never been open then. This issue should, however, at some point also be raised.)

I have a petition that contains 77 signatures. I do so in order to attest that I am not the only person who is concerned about library hours. If need be, I can readily secure even more signatures, since there is widespread concern.

I hope that you will be moved to support the academic mission of the University by extending by a single hour – howbeit an important hour – access to Wilson on weekends.

I believe that you are predisposed to do so, and I would like to believe that you will make an effort to modify slightly the library’s budgeting priorities.

Jasper Hopkins is a University professor of philosophy. Please send comments to [email protected]