Library Hours: Not Too Many Late Knights

The library can be many things. Each floor holds its own history, its own social groups, and a different environment. It is a place to study and really devote time to getting homework done. Many students come to its five floor to be secluded, alone in their own little world to pound out some homework or do some last-minute studying for a final. But many times, this can be hard due to library hours. As of right now, the Hekman Library on Calvin Colleges campus is open Monday through Thursday 7:30 am- 12am, Friday 7:30 am- 8 pm, Saturday 9 am- 8 pm, and closed on Sunday. These hours can sometimes make it difficult to spend as much time at the library as one would wish.

Speaking from personal experience, these hours are extremely frustrating. My favorite spot at the Hekman Library is on the fifth floor in a back-corner cubicle. Most nights I am up there finishing homework or working ahead late into the night, and it drives me crazy that at exactly 11:45 pm every night, the lights flick on and off, warning students that the library will be closing in 15 minutes so all students best start packing up. Night time is when I do my homework, as do most of my friends and other students attending Calvin College that I’ve talked to. The fact that it closes at midnight seems incredibly dumb to me. It is understandable that it cannot be open 24 hours due to staffing, but we’re in college, right? Isn’t college supposed to be filled with late nights of homework and countless all-nighters?

Sunday Hours

Another crazy thing about the Hekman library hours that seems to affect many people at Calvin is the fact that the library is closed on Sunday. Maria Smallegan, freshman, feels that “Sunday is the most important day the library should be open…. I procrastinate all my homework to do on Sunday and it sucks because I can’t go to the library and study”. From talking to multiple people, all agree with Maria: Sunday is the day devoted to homework and most students feel frustrated that the library is closed. I do most of my homework on Sunday’s because of the procrastinator I am. I also honestly think that I would be so much more productive if I could just be in the library, away from the distractions of my dorm room, people stopping in, and my phone distracting me. So why is the library closed on Sundays? Many believe that it is because it’s the Lord’s Day. Students are supposed to be at church, workers need the day off for family and God, etc.

In 2014, this topic was brought up to the library committee. Through discussion, President LeRoy made this statement regarding why the Hekman library is closed on Sundays: “This decision ends up being really symbolic for the college and our current understanding of Sabbath”. Calvin College is a Christian Reformed College. Because of these beliefs, staff members are uncertain of opening the library on Sundays due to the faiths belief that Sabbath days are meant to be kept holy, which includes trying to avoid work and focusing on rest. This is controversial, though, because of the Spoelhof Fieldhouse hours, which are 1pm-5pm on Sundays. Many students argue that because the fieldhouse is open on Sundays, the library should be too. There is nothing different from students going to the gym to work out and shoot some hoops than students going to study and use the books as resources for projects. Arguably, the library would actually be better used for students, and would reflect how hardworking the student body of Calvin College is since the academics at Calvin are known to be intense and rigorous. With Christian colleges across the nation whose libraries are open on Sundays, Calvin College is actually in the minority which 75% of Christian college libraries being open and fully functional on Sundays.

Exam Hours

Library hours during exam weeks are another controversial topic. To make many students happy, the library usually extends its hours until 2 am, allowing students a little more time to finish their last-minute studying in quiet privacy. These two extra hours can make a huge difference and often sway students into wishing the library stayed open until 2 am all the time. Keeping the library open a couple of hours extra “would really benefit the student body” according to Maria Smallegan, “It would allow us [the students at Calvin] to feel more satisfied with the workload that we accomplished while at the library”.

The hours at the Hekman Library at Calvin College are something discussed quite often. Students from all grade levels agree that it can sometimes be frustrating to work around the library hours when your schedule is tight and the homework load is big. Groups and committees have been formed to protest the hours. Students would love to expand night hours, tacking on a couple of hours each day for the night owls of Calvin College. They would also like to have open hours on Sundays, allowing students to come in and finish (or start) the homework due on Monday in a quiet and calming environment, away from the distractions of dorm rooms, houses, or apartments. The library provides a soothing environment away from distraction. Each floor is quieter as you go up, allowing students to choose which level of silence they would prefer to work with. The library is a safe haven for studying, letting students finish work that Calvin gives, studying for tests with groups, and using the libraries endless resources for sources. The Hekman library at Calvin College is a building loved by all, but would be loved even more if the library hours changed.