To provide students with a safe study space late on campus this semester, the Perry-Castañeda Library will operate on a 24-hour basis starting mid-October.
After a Student Government initiative, the PCL will operate on a 24-hour basis five days a week, or 24/5, starting during this semester’s midterms. The library will be open for 24 hours Sunday through Friday, closing at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday evening. Last year the latest the library was open was until 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday.
The initiative will cost around $40,000 per year, which will pay for a new security guard and additional maintenance and upkeep costs. The Student Services Budget Committee is paying for half, and University Libraries and the Provost’s Office are splitting the rest.
Travis Willmann, spokesperson for the University of Texas Libraries, said the library will not extend the hours it checks out books, operates the Information and Research Help Desk and offers other librarian services, but will function as a safe study space for students late at night.
Student body president and vice president Thor Lund and Wills Brown won the election with the goal of 24-hour library in their platform. Brown said they campaigned as the “24-hour PCL guys.”
Lund said it is also potentially a safety hazard to kick students out at 2 a.m. because some buses don’t run that late. Brown said the library will remain safe late at night with a security guard at the front desk and another one patrolling the library.
“After 10 p.m. you still have to show your student ID, so I think in terms of safety concerns we’ve addressed most of them,” Brown said.
The PCL operated on a 24-hour basis in the early 2000s, but the University reduced its hours after a decrease in student traffic late at night. Willmann said students weren’t using the library’s resources that late because they didn’t need the books, but now they need the study space.
“Students are less reliable on books and more reliable on space and electronic access,” Willmann said. “There have been very dramatic changes in the way students use the library. We’ve reached the point when students really like and need this space.”
The John Peace Library at UT-San Antonio operates on a 24/5 basis. Unlike UT-Austin’s student-led initiative, the John Peace Library operates on this schedule starting the first day of class. Staff at the John Peace Library are available to check books out to students at all times, and the school does not require students to show an ID to enter.
UTSA spokeswoman Anne Peters said UT-San Antonio is not in the middle of an urban area. Therefore, it does not have the same safety concerns as UT-Austin might. She said operating a library 24 hours has led to some unusual occurrences.
“In the past year or so, we’ve had someone dressed up in a Wookiee costume from Star Wars, and come to the library in the middle of the night and high-five students,” Peters said. “We think it’s somebody who just wants to give students a spirit lift in the middle of the night.”
Correction on Aug. 29: The print version of the story stated it would cost $40,000 a semester to keep the PCL open 24 hours for five days. The $40,000 is actually the total cost for the year.