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ISSUE 121 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/12/2007

Library curbs studying

By Julie Howard
Staff Writer

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Sunday morning. Slowly, the St. Olaf campus comes to life.

A vast majority of the waking population fights through the haze of sleepiness and fuzzy memories to face one horrible reality: damnation.

Academic sins have amassed.

The events of Friday afternoon to Sunday morning have led these prodigal sons and daughters unto the gates of a vast and fiery scholastic Hades.

Teetering precariously over the entry's precipice, students cry out in repentance, "Where upon this vast and glorious campus may redemption be found? Great Scholastica, where is your pedagogic Eden?"

On Sunday morning, students need a place to go where academic resources fall at their fingertips. They need a place that allows for a quiet atmosphere.

Students need a library. Strangely enough, however, Rolvaag Memorial Library doesn't open on Sundays until noon.

Bryn Geffert, a college librarian, provided reasoning for the late opening. "This is not a new question," said Geffert. "A good contingent would like to see change in the library hours. On the other hand, we have solid reasons for keeping things the way they are. Firstly, these hours honor our college's sense of self as a college of the church. [Earlier library hours] would create interference between the library and chapel time. We can't ask students to choose."

Several students reported that their spiritual life shapes their opinions of the current library hours.

"Frankly, it doesn't affect me because I'm at Mass until noon," said Janae Fabini, a senior who attends the Catholic service at St. Dominick's Church in Northfield.

Annie Gatzlaff '08 said, "We shouldn't be doing work on Sundays anyway. It's God's day of rest."

One student worker at the circulation desk presented the issue of Sunday library hours to Inga Velde, circulation/reserves associate. Velde replied, "If we were open on Sunday mornings, would you be interested in working the 9 a.m. to noon shift?"

On the other hand, the library manages to fully staff itself by 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Geffert also explains that opening late on Sunday is not unique to St. Olaf. "We did an informal survey, and even among very secular schools were libraries around the country not opening until around noon on Sundays," Geffert said.

True. However, students continue to object to the late opening. "I think it's malarkey," Sara Hottovy '08 said. "That's the one time you need it open."

Every Sunday, students form a line at the library doors anxiously awaiting their day's academic ventures.

"The library administration fails in its attempt to promote continuous learning by not making the library available for students wishing to advance their education as much as possible," says Peter Heidorn '10. "Students who wish to take advantage of the quiet, serene atmosphere of a Sunday morning are [instead] supposed to waste their time nursing hangovers, or, God forbid, attending chapel."

And at a college that boasts high extracurricular involvement, many busy Oles feel that their needs are being neglected.

"I would argue that [the library] should open consistently on Saturday and Sunday at like nine or something, both days. A lot of students have events on Saturday and then a lot of homework to do on Sunday," says Michael Peabody, a member of the varsity soccer team who will graduate this fall.

"At this point, a change in library hours is not in consideration," Geffert said. "Obviously, if there were a major student movement, within the Student Senate for example, we would have to respond to that kind of impetus."

No organization, however, intends to launch this movement. Perhaps the students seriously interested in doing so are too busy compensating for the homework they failed to complete on Sunday morning.

Or perhaps, most students don't even care.

"Having the library open at noon helps me feel less guilty for not starting my homework 'til the afternoon," Marcie Dierks '08 said. "I can do a cafeteria marathon before it opens. It takes me that long to get started."

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