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The Vernon R. Alden Library on August 29, 2016. (OLIVER HAMLIN | FOR THE POST)

Alden Library lengthens hours, increases workspace to accommodate rising numbers of students

When it comes to hitting the books, Ohio University students are using Alden Library more and more.

As students are using Alden Library more frequently and staying longer than in recent years, the library is working to accommodate those needs by keeping the library open longer on certain floors and increasing the amount of workspace.

“Over the past eight years, we’ve been seeing a steady four to six percent increase in gate counts for Alden Library,” Scott Seaman, dean of university libraries at OU, said. “But last year we saw a 23 percent increase in visits.”

On an annual basis, the library submits statistics to both the university and the Association of Research Libraries. One of those statistics is the number of entrances to the building. As students walk into Alden Library, there are lasers by the door that count each entrance.

Libraries can indicate what is happening at a larger level on campus.

“I think it really is starting to reflect the kinds of students that are coming to OU,” Seaman said. “I think it reflects the kinds of assignments that our faculty gives to our students and the seriousness to which our students are taking them.”

Seaman said there are other indicators, such as download numbers, that suggest library use is continuing to rise.

“Five years ago, each student on average would download 33 journal articles,” Seaman said. “Last year that (number) was 66.”

From a library standpoint, OU has not been a party school for a long time, Seaman said.

“I think that is a perception and, when people think about party schools, you don’t think ‘oh, the library gate count went up by 23 percent last year; oh, the students are downloading twice the amount of electronic library content than five years ago,’” Seaman said. “That isn’t the profile of a party school.”

OU fell off the list of The Princeton Review’s top 20 party schools in its 2016 rankings, though Playboy ranked OU as its top party school in 2015.

Some students have been complaining that there is not enough 24-hour space inside the library, Seaman said.

“Having a need for a large amount of library space open 24 hours, that’s not the profile of a party school,” Seaman said.

Starting in the fall, from Monday through Thursday the fourth floor will be open 24 hours, giving Alden two floors that will be open around the clock. Having the new 24-hour floor will alleviate some of the strain on the second floor, Seaman said.

This summer, the library has worked on adding new furniture to the fifth floor that allows for more floor space.

“It’s more comfortable, it’s more functional, but it’s also allowed us to put more workspace on the floors,” Seaman said.

The library is also attempting to better accommodate the needs of students by changing the way they use the reference desk.

“In the past, you’d have to walk up to the reference desk,” Seaman said. “One of the problems with that is students were telling us, ‘The minute I leave my workspace, somebody takes it, so I am afraid to go ask a librarian.’”

If students have a problem or don’t know how to do something, they can now text 740-231-3222 or call 740-593-2699 and a librarian will come to their workspace to help them, Seaman said.

“We've made changes within the library certainly, but we've been making changes for a decade inside the library and we've been seeing incremental increases in visits,” Seaman said.


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