On September 1, the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre stopped operating 24 hours a day, five days a week, thus turning UTM into the U of T campus with the shortest library hours. Students have expressed their concerns with hours of operation since the learn- ing centre opened in November 2006. UTMSU and student unions lobbied for 24-hour study space on campus for years, which led to library administrators launching the 24/5 Study Space Pilot Project in the 2006-2007 academic year.
The Pilot Project received its funding from the Provosts Student Experience Fund. The SEF, however, has now decid- ed to forego the project, offering alterna- tive hours.
On the UTM library website, an update on the 24/5 Study Space Pilot Project reads, Over the subsequent three-year period, we have been collect- ing data to assess student use of the space and our results do not support continu- ing this 24/5 service.
The Pilot Project originally offered 24- hour study space for three weeks during the December exam period and for four weeks during the April final exam period. Over the last two years, the library hours have changed considerably to cre- ate a 24/5 study space on campus. The library has been open twenty-four hoursa day from Sunday through Thursday. During the months of November and December it would close as late as 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
On behalf of students concerned about study space on campus, the UTMSU has campaigned for years for increased study locations. Alternative spaces with 24-hour access include the Meeting Place in the South Building, the open access lab in the CCT Building (CCT 1060) and CCT computing labs with T-Card access. Each, however, suf- fer from issues that make it less than ideal for studying. The CCT building broadcasts media from Blackwood Gallery on campus and the South Building draws bigger groups without noise control. The computing labs, on the other hand, may be quieter, but are also considerably smaller.
The Library remains committed to supporting student success, said chief librarian Mary Ann Mavrinac. It will continue to provide U of T Mississauga students with a safe, secure and quiet space for study and learning.
Associate librarian and deputy chief librarian Ian Whyte added that the library will remain open late for students during the 2009-2010 academic year. We can sustain support for extended hours of service, remaining open until 3 a.m. Sunday through Thursday during the December and April study and examination periods, for the foreseeable future, said Whyte, adding that the plans to end the 24/5 service were shared with the student union. We shared our data on the 24/5 service in public meet- ings starting in the winter of 2009 of which UTMSU had representation. We met with the UTMSU President during the spring and summer sessions. On both occasions, the President communi- cated his understanding of the library’s decision.
UTMSU President Joey Santiago disagrees. In a statement issued to The Medium, Santiago expressed his disap- proval with the librarys decision to cancel the 24-hour service: When meeting with the library administration I stated that UTMSU does not support this deci- sion. Along with many students who use the service, I am quite disappointed that the University of Toronto has revoked such a necessary service that now leaves UTM as the only U of T campus without 24-hour library study space.
Santiago also raised concerns for safety of students who stay on campus late and must walk home or take the public transit. He also revealed that the data presented to the UTMSU indicated that the reason behind the decision to end the 24-hour service was a lack of funds. With the amount of tuition and ancil- lary fees that students pay, I find it hard to believe that the University cannot allo- cate funding for a program that costs less than $100,000 a year, said Santiago.
UTMSU board member Sunil Shah, who pays over $11,000 in tuition fees a year, echoed similar sentiments. As a university, it should be mandatory to have a place where students are able to study quietly, said Shah. If many other universities are able to provide this to their students, why has our campus stopped?
Shah referred to universities such as York University, which offers 24- hour study space five days a week on the first floor of the Scott Library for much of the fall and winter terms.
Further details about the librarys hours, including regular hours of service for the 2009-2010 academic year, can be found online at the librarys website.