by Alex Watkins (News Writer)
Gagan Gill, a third year business administration student at UFV, knows as well as any the value of study for student success. As a member of a noisy, three-sibling household, she also knows the value of a quiet study area. That’s why she’s currently circulating a petition for extended library hours and increased study space at UFV, one that is quickly finding a lot of support among the student and staff populations alike.
Gill was inspired to start the petition after an experience at the library several weeks ago. She was attempting to complete a paper on Friday night, when, as she stated, “the lights flicked on and off which signaled the two minute warning until the library is closed. It was just 6:00pm!”
Gill – who prefers to study on campus – attempted to find an alternative space. Her and her study partner tried using an empty classroom, but were asked to leave by a custodian because they posed “a risk of theft,” even though the classroom did not contain any computers or televisions. The custodian suggested they use the Roadrunner Café, which remains open for study when the library is closed, but the pair found it difficult to focus on their work because of the “poor lighting… uncomfortable patio furniture, wobbly tables, vacuums and other background noise in the area.”
Gill drafted a petition, and after speaking with students, decided that what the majority would specifically like to see were extended library hours (particularly during exam time), more study space both within and apart from the library, upgraded study space in Building A and the free use of or designation of specific empty classrooms for study space.
Additionally, Gill suggested keeping the lights on in building G even after the library is closed, so that the study space in the area can still be utilized. Within the first four days of circulation, her petition had gathered over 600 signatures; Gill hopes to obtain a minimum of 1,500, which is nearly 12 per cent of the UFV student population.
Gill researched library hours and study spaces at B.C. universities and found that – compared to many others – UFV’s offerings simply don’t stack up. For example, UFV’s library is currently open until 10pm Monday to Thursday, and until only 6pm Friday to Sunday, while UBC’s library is open until 2am daily. Additionally, during exam time, UBC has study areas that are accessible 24 hours a day.
She cited BCIT’s groundbreaking extended hours pod (ehPod) project as a good example of what could be achieved with a little cooperation and ingenuity.
According to BCIT’s website, “The ehPod… was created in response to students’ need for extended access to study space and computer facilities [and] includes 60 computer workstations and 11 group study rooms. During the September and January terms, after the rest of the Library closes, the ehPod is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The project was the first of its kind among BC libraries, and earned an Innovation Achievement Award in 2010 from the Canadian Technical and College Libraries branch of the Canadian Library Association.
Gill said that, although UFV is currently experiencing a strain on its budget due to over-enrollment, she is seeing a lot of support and feels positive about her chances of success.
“I feel optimistic about it. When I went to talk to SUS after [the] meeting [in which my issue was raised, I was told] that everybody really agreed with what I was saying. The issue is money, but… if there’s additional study space, I don’t see the harm in… hiring… a student [to supervise it] for $9 an hour.”
Although Gill is currently receiving assistance from several UFV groups and associations, she encourages any students interested in helping to collect signatures to contact her at: Gagandeep.Gill2@student.ufv.ca.