Editorial:Bethel needs library hours on Sundays

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Climbing into her car, a student and her friend ensue on their weekly mission. It’s Sunday, they have homework to complete and are looking for somewhere to do so. This time, the student starts her car and drives to Starbucks. Last time, it was a Barnes and Noble bookstore. Much to their frustration, the students find that the Starbucks environment is even worse than their dormitory environment, which is what drove them to search for a place of solitude in the first place. They drive back to Barnes and Noble, knowing the limited available hours will restrict them from completing all of the homework they need to. "It’s just frustrating because I have to go work around the other organization’s schedule too,” Mikayla Irwin said passionately. Irwin is one of the many students who are frustrated by the lack of resources for students on the weekends at Bethel College. For many, having the library as a study location is essential for their academic success. However, since Bethel’s library closes at 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and is closed on Sundays, students are forced to try to complete homework in their dorm, the computer lab or somewhere off campus when the library is closed. "People are really loud in my dorm,” Irwin said, as she adjusted her glasses. “In my room, there are so many distractions. I end up watching TV or playing a game.” She listed off all the reasons why her dorm simply isn’t an environment that allows her to engage in her studies seriously. The library, however, is a place where Irwin can focus. “The fact that I am out of my dorm, it gives me a set purpose,” Irwin said evenly. “Not only is it quiet, but there is many different places where I can work. I can choose my station.” Brianne Hogan, freshman, also said the library was one of the only places on campus for her to successfully complete her homework. “There are lots of secluded places to read and work and do your homework,” Hogan said, as she brushed her hair out of her face and leaned forward to refocus. “It’s something you can always count on, but if you study at Barnes and Noble, you don’t know if all the tables will be taken.” She also said that their experience at Starbucks was “claustrophobic and crowded and so loud.” And, the computer lab isn’t a good option either. Deidre Bridges and Tammi Kreis both attest to the fact that the computer lab is loud. It’s an environment where many go to hang out or talk, leading to a distraction for other students. Having a moment of serious study is more of a rarity than the norm in the computer lab. Kreis said that she went to three different Starbucks on one Sunday, trying to find a quiet place to sit and study. “It’s just different,” Taryn Johnson, sophomore, said, referring to the computer lab. “The space isn’t broken up the same way, and there are way too many distractions.”  Johnson said the only thing she goes to the computer lab for is printing and completing quick assignments between classes. She said it’s too noisy to accomplish anything for long periods of time, which is the type of environment many need the day before a long school, Sunday. “Before I had a car, I knew I just had to have my homework done before Sunday because otherwise I wouldn’t get it done,” Irwin said with a dismayed chuckle. She said that many students don’t have the option to simply leave campus, “especially my freshman friends who don’t have a car.” Although it is nice for Irwin to be able to leave campus, driving elsewhere requires that she uses her own resources, including time and gas, to simply get her homework done. “It takes me at least ten minutes,” Irwin said, referring to how long it takes her to get to a quiet place to study. She seemed to be upset, as she thought about the extra work she has to go through simply to study. One of the primary functions of an academic institution is to provide resources to enable the students that they are entrusted to help develop. When an institution is falling short of its job, it’s necessary to call into question why this is so. When you think of what will equip students to be successful, one of the very first, if not the first, resource that comes to mind is a school’s library. It follows, then, that a school should strive to offer as many hours as possible to the student body, so they have access to both an environment that is conducive to productive study and a variety of helpful resources.  Although it would be ideal to have a librarian on-call on Sundays, students understand that librarians need some time off from their job, so they are not asking for a 24/7 on-call librarian, but rather, a consistent place to accomplish their academic goals. The libraries of schools in close proximity to Bethel and in somewhat similar circumstances as Bethel, including Taylor University, Notre Dame University, Indiana University—South Bend and Butler University, offer at least some hours on Sundays. And, schools such as Indiana Wesleyan at least offer more hours on Saturdays. Because Bethel is an institution that is smaller than, for example Notre Dame, and the resources are therefore limited, it is understandable that fewer hours are offered; however, it seems as though there is a larger gap in resources offered to students than necessary. It seems that the library could offer more hours. “I think the library should be open on Sunday,” Irwin said with certainty. If this is not an option they should “have some place else like the Acorn or the DC open.” Like Irwin said, it is necessary that students have a consistent, studious environment on Sundays. Ideally, this place would be the library, which would be managed by responsible students. If this is not an option, although it appears that it should be, opening rooms in the Academic Center or some other building for student use might be helpful. Again, the library would still be the better option. Even if a few more library hours were offered on Friday and Saturday and some evening hours were offered on Sunday, that would be better than the current situation. Students deserve a space that they can consistently access and an environment that encourages focus and successful study during both the weekdays and weekends. Neither a dorm nor a computer lab is such a place, and suggesting that this is where they should complete homework on weekends is simply inexcusable. Such a resource exists; however, the decision needs to be made to either make it more accessible to students or create some other space in which students can successfully flourish in their studies. “Like you said, I think it’s the institution’s responsibility to provide us with this type of resource,” Hogan said.
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