The process of finding a seat in Butler Library during finals season is getting a bit easier.
Starting next Tuesday, Butler Library will add 150 seats to its 24-hour spaces. The fifth and sixth floors, which have graduate reading rooms, will be open all night—adding to the Milstein study rooms on floors two through four. And if enough students fill the seats in those rooms, they will remain open 24 hours a day for future finals periods.
Like some other 24-hour spaces in Butler, the rooms will be closed for an hour a day for cleaning. And Rooms 601, 602, 603, and 604, which have been excluded from the initiative, will keep normal hours.
Ryan Cho, CC ’13 and Columbia College Student Council vice president of policy, said that the student councils talked to University Libraries and Facilities staff to start the pilot program.
“This is the trial period,” Cho said. “If a lot of people use the space, we can talk more about how, if it’ll be open for more than just finals. We really do need a lot of people to come out.” A Libraries official, however, said that the extended hours, if successful, would apply only during future finals periods, not during the regular semester.
Cho and University Senator Kenny Durell, CC ’12, are planning to advertise the program widely, since keeping these rooms open 24/7 will be contingent on student participation seen by Libraries staff.
“Due the number of people out there, is that number sufficient enough to be paying for another Facilities person to clean that space, to upkeep that space?” Cho said. “I don’t think cost is an issue if it’s being utilized.”
Although the 150 seats will be open soon, they are only part of the new library study space that students can take advantage of this finals season, including 250 more seats in the Northwest Corner Building’s Science and Engineering Library than were open at this point last year.
Still, Cho acknowledged the importance of opening more space in Butler specifically because of its popularity, especially among first-years.
“I know a lot of people work at Lehman, but it’s further away,” Cho said. “There’s always a cry for more space, whether it’s student group space or individual space for students.”
Students said they were excited for the additional space, and would be more inclined to head to Butler next week.
Sitting in Butler Café, Neha Srivastava, a graduate student in SEAS, explained her frustration at the time it took to find study space.
“Why else do you think I’m sitting next to the garbage?” Srivastava said, adding that students who “camp out” add to the issue. “As a result, we have to sit sometimes in the corridor because there’s no space in the rooms.”
“You spend a half hour trying to find a place to sit and it’s really stressful in there,” Hannah Shaper, CC ’15, said.
Katie Sun, BC ’12, said she doesn’t spend much time in Butler during finals due to its frenzied feeling, but that she will consider studying in the library at night when the additional floors are open.
“I really like the sixth floor,” Sun said. “There’s less of a stressful atmosphere there.”
Shayna Orens contributed reporting.
Correction: A previous version of this story failed to specify which rooms will be excluded from the pilot program (which, in turn, led the story to overstate the total number of extra seats) and the program's cleaning schedule. It also misstated that the full program, if approved, would also take effect during the regular semester.