BSU initiative extends Green Library hours

Nadine Matas / Staff Writer

Back in the Fall 2015 semester, a group of students from the Black Student Union, headed by Rashaad Perry-Patterson, a Political Science and Pre-Law Program Junior, set forth an education initiative for the University.

During the months of October and November Perry-Patterson and his team worked toward academic improvement on campus. Their main focus was extending the Green Library’s hours of operation.

This campaign came about due to a hacking incident of the FIU website, which was blasted through the social media portal of Yeti, where it claimed that African American students and other minorities were being hunted by special trained police dogs on campus.

In response to this occurrence, the Black Student Union formed several commities in collaboration other COBALT organization leaders, to make a change at the university, including the academic committee which was pushing for extended hours.

These students set up meetings with administration in order to progress with their plan.

“We had several meetings with the administration,” Perry-Patterson said to Student Media, “the FIU police, External Relations, the University Vice President and President Rosenberg.”

The reason the Library was the main focus of this project was because, according to Perry-Patterson, they wanted a space for students to be able to study 24 hours for at least 5 days a week.

“You can see it at other universities such as UF, USF, FSU and UCF,” he said, “they have some kind of 24/5 plan or even 24 hour access to their libraries.”

An administrative figure that worked closely with Perry-Patterson and his team was Anne Prestamo, Dean of Libraries at Florida International University.

Prestamo worked in collaboration with BSU to move forward on this idea of extended hours. Prestamo as well as Perry-Patterson, said there was not much time to promote the hours.

“There was not much time [in Fall],” Prestamo says, “but we did move forward with exploration for the week before finals as well as the week of finals”

The response for the first couple of days was not what they expected. With the lack of advertisement the students had not heard about the opportunity.

“The best way to spread the word around [last semester], was students hearing from friends or classmates” Prestamo states. “The number of students coming to the Library during finals week went up.”

Prestamo believes that last semester’s numbers are not a fair assessment of the potential demand of students for extended library hours.

As a result, this past February, BSU promoted a survey for students to take, in order to obtain statistical data and have a better idea of what students thought of the initiative. Prestamo says that BSU received over 2,500 responses within the two week period, the majority with positive feedback for the project

The office of the President, Provost, as well as the Chief Financial Officer, gave the green light to running another pilot during this Spring 2016 Semester.

Since news of the extended library hours became public, several students are looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunity.

“The extended hours benefit me as a student in many ways. It is very convenient to be able to go to areas that are less packed with students when studying for finals,” Hira Ahmad, a senior psychology student says, “Usually, I go to the library to study and do my homework.”
“Whether it’s working on academics or personal projects, the Library is a place where I can escape distractions to accomplish my task.” Joshua Soto, a second year International Business & Marketing major, says. “These extended library hours not only allow me, but other students as well, to get that extra study time in for my classes.”

“Libraries couldn’t do this by themselves” Prestamo says. “There are a lot of costs to consider.”

Prestamo and Perry-Patterson both list different factors that need to be taken into consideration for this initiative to move forward. Among these things there is the costs of staff, custodial, security, utilities, as well as infrastructure changes that would have to be made in order to accommodate the longer hours.

Perry-Patterson and Prestamo believe it is not an unreachable compromise. “It’s a possible outlook,” said Perry-Patterson.

“There is good support in literature and in the university,” Prestamo says. She references the Student Success Goal #1 (H) from the Strategic Plan of the University, where the plan talks about improvement of space management to achieve student success.

The main concerns, she says, is figuring out what it is that is needed and most beneficial to the students who will be taking advantage of the extended hours.

According to Prestamo, the survey included that information to get a better concept of how much of the Library the students would want to have access to, if it came down to only certain areas remaining open for the extended hours in the future.

“As far as specific locations I would say maybe the first two floors.” Soto says, “Personally what I usually do at the Library is find a spot where I can clear my mind from all distractions and focus on what needs to be done.”

Prestamo says there were staff members appointed to count the number of students on every floor each hour during the last extended period in December. During the 24 hour period in November and December that there was about 9,000 students on the second floor alone, according to Prestamo. There are also records about laptop and book uses in the Library during this time, all in effort of providing as much numerical and physical data of the benefits of the 24/5 extended hour project.

“As a student who is heavily involved on campus, most of my studying is done through the night, I think it’s an amazing idea,” says Soto, “There are plenty of students who will benefit from this”

According to the official website of the Library as well as an email sent out by External Relations, the extended hours will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 24 and will remain open through Friday, April 29 at midnight, for the first week. On Saturday, April 30 the hours will be 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., and then the Library opens again Sunday, May 1 at 10 a.m. and remains open through Friday, May 6 at midnight.

“Between now and this [the extended hours pilot] time period.” Perry Patterson says. “You will be seeing BSU start a marketing campaign in the Library and GC to get students motivated to take advantage of this opportunity”

1 Comment on "BSU initiative extends Green Library hours"

  1. I am concerned about the lack of information and misinformation in this article. While BSU certainly deserves credit for its role in the extension of hours, this article fails to mention SGA and their role as supporters of this initiative. In addition, while the average gate count does increase during finals week, it does not seem likely that "During the 24 hour period in November and December that there was about 9,000 students on the second floor alone, according to Prestamo." I believe Anne Prestamo may have been misquoted. Based on information from circulation staff, that seems to be a weekly average, not a daily average. While that number increases during finals it is impossible for there to be 9,000 students on the second floor, at one time. The number of seats on that floor is about 600. Finally, this newspaper should really consider writing an article on why the library was not included in the University’s Strategic Plan. While President Rosenberg pushes to increase enrollment and expansion, there is no mention of expansion for the libraries. The only mention of the libraries in the Strategic Plan was when they mentioned students checked out more than 50,000 computers in the fall semester. ( If President Rosenberg expects to have 65,000 students enrolled by 2020 why does he forget about the libraries? According to the original builders, McHarry associates, the library can be expanded to 15 floors.The only way for the libraries to improve their services is through tech fees, and the only projects that are approved are those with a lot of tech upgrades. However, the building is in need of structural upgrades and the only way to get funding for that is through the President’s office. It is a disservice to students, staff, and faculty for the President and the administration to ignore one of the most visited places on each campus, its libraries. The libraries at both BBC, and MMC are community centers, tech centers, and learning centers that deserve funding and more consideration when FIU thinks of its future.

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