Lamont Library will remain open 24/7 during reading period and final exams this academic year, Harvard College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds and interim librarian of Harvard College Susan Fliss announced today. The decision follows a successful trial run of 24-hour operations at the end of the spring semester.
This semester, Lamont will be open continuously from 9 a.m. Dec. 2 through 5 p.m. Dec. 21.
“Last year’s pilot program was very successful for the hundreds of students who used Lamont after normal hours, as well as for the library staff,” said Fliss. “It was also the result of a very collaborative process that included Lamont Library and Harvard Library Access Services staff, Dean Hammonds and the College, the UC [Undergraduate Council], and a variety of interested students. We’re pleased that we can open Lamont Library again during reading and exam periods to ensure that students have a place to study during this critical time in the academic year.”
Last spring, as part of the pilot authorized by Hammonds and Fliss and facilitated by students and staff, Lamont was open continuously from April 22 through May 12. During that period, informal counts by library staff indicated that an average of 267 students were using Lamont at 1 a.m. on any given night. The number of students using the library tended to peak between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., while use was lowest between 4 and 10 a.m. On several evenings, the number of students using the library spiked to well over 400.
“Last year’s pilot program at Lamont was a genuine success,” said Hammonds, who is also the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies. “The hundreds of students who studied in Lamont into the wee hours of the night proved how much they value having access to that space during reading and exam periods. In short, students voted with their feet. We’re really pleased that we can respond to that demand by making Lamont available again this semester for late-night studying.”
The Lamont Library project represents another effort by the College, working with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences libraries, to meet student space needs. Since 2006, the College has added or renovated more than 57,000 square feet of social space available to undergraduates.
At Lamont, spaces such the café, the multimedia lab, the technology-decked Collaborative Learning Space (B-30), and the Larsen Room have become more accessible to students after hours. And a survey conducted in the spring by members of the UC Student Life Committee indicated additional interest among students for extended library hours.
“Until now, the lack of a true 24/7 library has significantly impacted students looking to study during exam period,” said Michael A. George, current chair of the UC Student Life Committee. “When students raised this issue with the UC this past spring, we worked extensively with the Harvard Library system to make it a reality.
“Eighteen hundred students responded to the survey we organized, and the results showed that a substantial group of students, from freshmen to seniors, were very interested in expanded hours. The pilot program we ran at the end of the spring confirmed that the student demand was there,” George continued. “We’re very happy that the College and library administrators have responded to that demand by keeping Lamont open again this year.”
In November 2011, Hammonds announced plans for additional enhancements to undergraduate social spaces across campus, including the new Mather Multimedia Lab, the Eliot Grille activity space, the Cabot Café, and the Quad Grille lounge space in Pforzheimer House. The College also began opening Annenberg Hall in the evenings to serve as a gathering place where students could study or socialize. Improvements to the Student Organization Center at Hilles (SOCH) were formally unveiled earlier this semester.
House renewal is another area in which the College hopes to maximize the spaces available to students. When fully renewed, Old Quincy will have a new multipurpose room, music practice rooms, a classroom, and informal nooks where students can gather.
“The College and Lamont Library have focused in recent years on providing students with additional spaces to study or relax,” Hammonds said. “Last year, the College opened Annenberg to students in the evening. Just last month, we unveiled the newly renovated SOCH. Over the last few years, we’ve refurbished a number of House grilles and created new spaces like the Queen’s Head Pub. As plans for renewing Old Quincy demonstrate, building new spaces in the Houses is also one of the primary goals of House renewal.”