Weekend library and weight room hours not as arbitrary as students may think
News | Jon Westmark
Photo for The Clarion by Drea Chalmers.
It has likely happened to most students on campus at some point: a student moseys up to the library on a Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon, looking to catch up on some homework, only to turn on their heel as they see the library dark and desolate – the hours were not as the student expected. Though students quickly learn to adapt their schedule to the varying availability of Bethel facilities on weekends, many may not know that more goes into the decision than the desire to give workers a rest.
The library has a long history of tailoring the weekend schedule to that of the student body, while also balancing budget concerns. Years ago, the library was not open on Sundays due to the observance of the Sabbath. However, as the school grew and church practices began to change, the library began opening its doors to students in the afternoon, while closing from 5-7 p.m. to accommodate evening services.
“Through the years there have been frequent requests for additional weekend hours including Friday and Saturday evenings and all day Sunday,” said Carole Cragg, the associate director of the library. In 2010, however, due to cuts in the library budget, the services on Sunday took a step back and the library lost its ability to employ a reference librarian on that day.
“The final determination of hours has been decided based on several factors including use and finances,” Cragg said. Sundays were the least used during the week, and because Sunday morning services continue to be the primary time for students to attend church, Cragg does not see Bethel extending the hours earlier than 2 p.m. “It is difficult to imagine that Bethel would ever want to encourage that as a work time or prevent student and full-time library staff from having a half day of Sabbath to attend worship services and possibly have a meal with family or friends,” Cragg said.
The evening hours extend to midnight for students who may go to Vespers, return to campus later in the weekend or generally study later at night, according to Cragg.
While Sunday hours appeal particularly to students in the College of Arts and Sciences, Saturday hours cater to students of the College of Adult and Professional Studies and Graduate School, and have experienced a similar metamorphosis over the years. As the two schools have grown, including classes on Saturday morning, the library was requested to open earlier to accommodate those students and faculty who may be on campus.
With the current library budget, feedback from students and information on usage, the library staff does not plan on changing the hours any time soon.
Other facilities must also balance the financial detriments of being open for extended weekend hours with students’ desires to use the resources. The weight room is one example. Though during the week students may complain about the over-crowded weight room, on weekends, the facility is used minimally, according to strength and conditioning coach Rick Meyer.
“On weekends, you’ve got half of the school that’s off of campus, do you need it open the full 7-12?” Meyer said. He also said that students generally have more time on the weekends, making it less necessary for the weight room to offer longer hours. “I don’t think people spend more than one hour in this facility during the day,” he said. “It should be more manageable to fit that one hour into someone’s day as opposed to, say, a library visit.”
The discrepancy between weekday and weekend usage is so drastic that the weight room is open during chapel time. “This is probably the one facility where we can’t allow everyone in here at the same time,” Meyer said. “We have to kind of manage it a little differently. It’s about sheer volume and size.”
Instead of extending the hours until later at night, a time when less people tend to work out, Meyer and the athletic staff see the value of paying staff to work during the 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. slot – when many students are likely to use the facility.
“We’ve got more athletes that want to lift and stay competitive to allow their games to be as good as they can,” Meyer said. “I think if you are at a university that offers athletics, you should offer that opportunity for your athletes to be as good as they want to be.”
Both Cragg and Meyer stressed that the main deciding factor when choosing hours of availability is the students. “It is designed to serve you guys,” Meyer said. “It’s designed to get as many of you guys in here to work on your physical health as we possibly can.”