Hey Librarian, Let Me Do My Work

If you’ve spent at least one semester at USF, especially one semester living in Phelan Hall, chances are you have probably questioned where your $40,000 plus tuition is going. Some of the dorms have not been remodeled since the 1970s.

We do however enjoy some luxuries on campus- wireless internet, a 24-hour study room and a semester long MUNI pass at half the regular cost (that will transport you to almost anywhere in SF). And while these amenities are convenient, there is a limit to how students can use these resources.

Who pays for amenities on campus and who should be allowed to access them?

I enjoy going to a school that has excellent resources like wireless internet, computer and printer access, but at times I’ve wondered if my tuition is paying for these things, shouldn’t I be able to dictate how I can use them?

This past summer, I had an internship with a small online publication that was in the process of moving their offices to a central location. In the meantime, my supervisor and I worked at coffee shops that had wireless internet.

This proved to be unreliable, thus I suggested we work at Gleeson Library, where we could use the internet and have a quiet place to work.

With the Atrium in mind, we packed up our laptops and headed for campus. We went no further inside than the front door when that annoying alarm went off. I explained to the librarian that my supervisor and I were working on a project.

When she said that he wasn’t allowed to be in the library if he wasn’t a student, he said that he was supervising an internship. Ignoring that we would be working and not checking out books or using the online academic resources like JSTOR, the librarian repeated that he could not enter the library.

Then she proceeded to tell me that if I did want to check in a guest, I would need to give notice ahead of time.

I saw no reason why I couldn’t use the library- a student resource- to work on my internship, which supplements classroom instruction and course work.

This happened in June. There were probably eight people maximum in the library. I pay tuition so I can use the library – why couldn’t I sit with my supervisor in the atrium and work on my internship?
Preventing my internship supervisor from entering the library was a blatant disservice to students like myself that pay high tuition to attend this university.

Like many offices on the USF campus, the library would not exist if students did not pay their tuition. The library is a service for students and students should have more control over how, when and for what purposes it can be used.

I support the proposed ASUSF amendment to change the current library guest policy, which requires a student to call 24 hours prior to admitting a guest.

In a similar fashion to the dorms, a student should be able to check in a guest by holding a photo ID at the front desk. With the exception of finals week, students should be permitted to check in guests at any time.
Students are paying customers and the university should adhere to the needs of its customers before dictating how and when their products can be used.

Chelsea M. Sterling is a senior English major.

One thought on “Hey Librarian, Let Me Do My Work

  1. The Gleeson Library Geschke Learning Resource has a limited access policy for many reasons. As a private, Jesuit institution our mission is to serve the needs of students, faculty and staff at USF. In the 2004-2005 academic year, the Gleeson Library Geschke Learning Resource Center had over 323,000 members of the USF community visit the library. In 2007-2007 that number increased to over 352,000. These are unique visits to the library by community members in the course of an academic year.

    From 2005 to today, we lost student study space on the 4th floor of the library. While at one time the entire 4th floor was dedicated to student study, today nearly 2/3 of the space is reserved for faculty use only. Over the same period of time, the library has been used as a place for undergraduate classes to meet, as a place for supplemental instruction by Academic Support Services and a host of other university events and meetings. While we welcome these groups and the students they bring to the library, there has been a toll on the space available for students to study.

    While the library is busier than ever, and the space available for students to use has decreased, we have managed to keep the library in the excellent shape USF students, faculty and staff have come to expect. By example, with the increase in library use and the decrease in space for students, Gleeson Geschke has maintained the highest ranking of all auxiliary services on campus, as measured by the USF’s senior exit survey. During the same four-year period Gleeson Geschke launched a number of new services such as 24/7 study, wireless, IM reference, online renewals, online book requests, and students can now pay their library late fees online.

    One of the ways we maintain the level of service students, faculty and staff expect is by having a limited access policy. A limited access policy ensures that library services and facilities are available to USF students, faculty and staff.

    As the original column by Ms. Sterling made clear, the library has a policy in place that allows for students to bring guests into the building.

    The staff at Gleeson Geschke remains committed to serving the students, faculty and staff at USF. In the event that curricular needs require internship supervisors have access to the library, we are happy to discuss making appropriate arrangements in advance.

    Shawn P. Calhoun
    Department Head, Access Services
    Gleeson Library/Geschke Learning Center
    University of San Francisco

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