Saturday, September 09, 2006

Question: Academic librarians & hours

Question: I know public librarians work evenings and weekends, but do academic librarians work these hours as well?

Yes. I have been waiting to answer this question at an appropriate time; today is Saturday and my first of two weekend shifts at the reference desk. At AU library, weekend hour are 10 am - 5 pm on Saturday and 1 pm to 11 pm on Sunday throughout the term, holiday hours and extended hours excluded. Librarians rotate at least two weekends and Tuesday evenings each semester.

Why are weekend hours offered? From a simple customer service angle, the library should be open when patrons have time to utilize the facility. It's the same reason library's offer extended hours preceding and during finals week. Patron availability is wide open at these times and, as with your favorite shopping destination, business is good when including those who are unable to visit during the week. Beyond that, the library also serves an important academic function and we are responsible for being able to assist patrons outside of the traditional class time.

Are weekends busy? Library traffic and use vary depending on the weekend in question and the institution. I can surmise today our weekend business will be light as it is the first non-holiday weekend this term. Saturdays are customarily slow and consist of non-traditional students beginning their research and others stopping in to check email and print (and use the restrooms). Sundays begin gradually with patron usage increasing as evening approaches. After six on a Sunday evening is peak time for reference instruction to take place, often focusing upon database usage and locating books. Technology help is pravelent on Sunday evenings as well, with students completing presentations and papers on library computers. Overall, weekends tend to be "library as a place" times, with study and group areas a focal point.

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