Like many other Amherst students, I spend lots of my time in the Frost Library. I’ve found that the library is the perfect place to study: you can get work done while soaking in the dark academia atmosphere; you don’t have to longingly stare at your bed while trying to work in your room; and you don’t have to bother your roommate by having a light on. Aside from studying, the library offers easy socialization: you can talk quietly and study together with friends without giving up the studious environment that the library provides. However, I believe that the library’s hours should be more accommodating for students’ needs.
Frost’s hours are currently between 8 a.m. and 1 a.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays, which is more hours than schools like Williams. However, many of our other peer institutions — including Columbia, JHU, and MIT — have libraries open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s weird that Amherst’s library does not have this ability, especially since our Science Center is (technically) open 24/7. While some might point out that a 24-hour library seems redundant considering the existence of the Science Center, I argue that the library provides numerous benefits for students, some of which the Science Center simply does not offer.
First, it allows students to study uninterrupted. Being interrupted and asked to leave at 12:50 p.m. during an attentive study session could be annoying. Second, if you have an assignment that you need to stay up late for and you don’t want to bother your roommate, the library provides a great space to work, especially in solidarity with your friends if they too have late assignments. Third, I personally find it difficult to work in my room — I just can’t work in the same place that I sleep; the bed is too tempting — as other people I know expressed similar feelings. The library, therefore, is a safe haven for me to do my work. However, having it only open until 1 a.m. lessens my opportunities to get work done. Lastly, having the library open 24/7 would actually allow students who go to bed and wake up early to have a space to work with some tea or coffee before breakfast or classes.
I do acknowledge the reasons behind our current library hours. It can be argued that as college students, we should all be getting much more sleep than we actually do, and 24-hour libraries exacerbate the problem of sleep. While I do agree with this to a certain extent, staying up to finish work sometimes is not a choice for many of us. If I have to stay up to work anyway, I would rather do it in a place like the library where I can be sure of my productivity. Leaving Frost by 1 a.m. does not imply more sleep for me — it just means that the quality of my work goes down thereafter.
Keeping the library open would also create more job openings. I understand the concern about having late-night positions, but there are a lot of people who sleep late and would love to be paid extra to take the late night shift at Frost. We could implement a system for Frost mimicking the Science Center where the library ends keycard access at 1 a.m., but people can stay inside however long they want from then on.
Ultimately, while I understand that having Frost Library open 24/7 brings a lot of complications, the benefits that it will bring to the students outweigh the drawbacks.