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EDITORIAL: Should Rutgers bring back its 24-hour libraries?

A 24-hour library would be a convenient option for students but presents some downsides

It is important to determine whether having a 24-hour library again would be worthwhile for the University and its students. – Photo by

Back in 2016, Rutgers had two 24-hour libraries: Alexander Library and James Dickson Carr Library. These buildings were open all hours of the day from Sunday morning through Thursday night. But now, the latest that an on-campus library is open til is 2 a.m. 

A 24-hour library would give students a quiet escape from loud study lounges or crowded rooms in residence halls at all hours of the night. This would also prevent students from being interrupted in the middle of their study flow.

It was quite surprising to see that Rutgers did not open libraries for 24 hours during finals week last semester, which resulted in students getting kicked out of the library when they clearly had more studying to accomplish.

While having all libraries remain open for 24 hours a day may be an excessive ask, having at least one 24-hour library on campus is something that the University should consider.

Rutgers should not pose barriers to its students' academic pursuits, especially during such rigorous times like midterm season and finals.

Students may likely know themselves and their study habits the best, and as such, can plan the best way to conduct their studying around flexible library schedules. Someone may be a night owl and experience the most academic clarity at 4 a.m., while others are the most productive in the morning and want an early start to their day at 6 a.m.

If libraries are open during the earliest hours of the day, this could honestly encourage students to change their lifestyle habits for the better and start their day on the right foot. 

And most importantly, Rutgers should consider the fact that students are paying tuition to have access to academic resources, including libraries, 24/7. If tuition remains the same regardless of whether libraries are open until 2 a.m. or for 24 hours, then Rutgers should have it open for the latter amount of time so that students make the most of their investment.

It can also be argued, though, that keeping a library open for 24 hours encourages students' poor sleeping and lifestyle habits by giving them the option to grind during all hours of the night. 

According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, sleep deprivation in college students can contribute to poor academic performance, mood swings, higher vulnerability to failing in classes, a higher risk of motor vehicle accidents and decreased efficacy in learning. 

In addition, sleep deprivation is correlated with a multitude of physical health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity and heart and kidney disease. Furthermore, having libraries open all hours of the night could force people to walk home by themselves very late at night, which could be dangerous.

The situation becomes tricky when we consider that buses stop running at 3 a.m., and students may not be able to return to their respective homes or residence halls if the 24-hour library is on a different campus. It also may show favoritism to specific campuses if there is only one 24-hour library, and it may be difficult to select which campus gets it.

These safety concerns are also exacerbated by the fact that Rutgers would need to find sufficient staffing and security personnel for the late nights. Even if Rutgers was able to fill this need before, it is not certain whether it still has the capacity to staff even one 24-hour library again.

In response to the concerns that 24-hour libraries encourage sleep deprivation and introduce safety risks, college students are adults at the end of the day. And as such, they should have the ability to make their own decisions, especially over something as important as their academic studies and performance. 

It is clear that while a 24-hour library would provide students with an ideal study space to squeeze in extra hours of studying, there are certain drawbacks to keep in mind.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 155th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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