The University of Mary Washington is equipped with many locations to study and get work done. Simpson Library is one of those places, providing students with a variety of different study spaces and atmospheres—quiet or loud, solitary or sociable. However, the library is not open late enough to cater to students’ needs, and other study spaces on campus, such as the HCC that remains open 24/7, do not provide the same environment as the library.
Simpson Library is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The building is closed on Saturdays and open on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. These hours are very challenging for many students that play sports, work and have classes all day.
However, the library is unable to remain open 24/7 because, “Unlike the HCC, Simpson Library does not have card-swipe access,” said Rosemary Arneson, a librarian at Simpson Library.
This card-swipe access should be implemented so that students can have access to the building for longer hours.
Due to funding and medical leave, the library has been left “extremely short-staffed,” according to Arneson. The librarians are working hard to make accommodating hours for students and hire a full-time librarian, “but that will depend on the university’s overall budget,” said Arneson.
Simpson Library is an important place where students can be productive and find the resources they need for research projects and assignments. The university should prioritize the library when making financial decisions because it is an invaluable resource for students.
The library is currently looking to hire more staff members, which may allow for an increase of hours.
“We are currently advertising for an Access Services Assistant to help staff the library in the evening hours,” said Arneson. “We hope to have both people back in the spring. That, along with the new Access Services Assistant, will give us the opportunity to look at extending our hours.”
For many, the library is the perfect study spot because different floors provide different noise levels. Some floors mandate an area of complete silence, while other floors allow for casual conversation and group work. Not only are there different volume levels, but there are also different environments that allow students to find an ideal location to make themselves comfortable. This allows students to complete their work in a location free of distractions and other people.
These locations include the tree houses, study rooms, cubicles, sunroom and even tables spread around between the different aisles. However, with the library closing at 8 p.m. or even 5 p.m. on some days, these study spaces do not accommodate students who prefer to or must accomplish schoolwork later in the evening.
“One thing the library needs is longer hours,” said Anaïs Malangu, a senior geography major.
Simpson Library is the perfect location for me to study. However, my schedule only allows me to spend an hour a day in the library, which does not provide much time for me to get work done. When the library is closed, I go to the HCC , which is a bright environment full of open rooms and glass windows.
This lack of privacy leaves very little opportunity to block out distractions such as people walking by outside or the sound of people typing away on their computers. Everything can be seen, and noise travels far, so even the quietest noises echo off the walls, which causes me to lose focus. The HCC also has a constant high-pitched whistle that often disrupts my attention.
Even though the leaf-covered section of the HCC resembles the treehouse environment of the Simpson Library, the differences are substantial.
“When studying on campus my go-to comfort spot is cubicles on the third floor of the library,” said Rebecca Munsie, a senior English major. “I have tried to complete work in the HCC when the library is closed in the leaf-covered areas. However, due to my ADD I am not able to focus for a prolonged period of time. The library is a calm environment where distractions are minimal and I am able to focus for longer periods of time.”
Being a STEM major, I am responsible for a lot of research-based work. With the library’s limited hours, I often cannot find sources or meet with librarians to ask questions, which has slowed down my progress many times in the past. The librarians are there to guide and provide advice for research papers, but due to their schedule, I am unable to utilize their expertise for my assignments.
UMW’s Simpson Library might not be everyone’s first choice for studying, but it provides a warm and welcoming environment that gives students access to research assistance and allows for a conducive study environment.