Beginning last Tuesday, the Bioethics Research Library in Healy Hall extended its weekday hours until 9 p.m. on days when it is not hosting an event.

The library’s usual hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will remain intact on nights when the library hosts speakers and panels. The Saturday and Sunday hours of 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. will remain the same.

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Head of Information Services Mark Hakkarinen said that the extended hours will allow students to better use the library.

“I want to do the best thing for Georgetown students [to] maximize the use of this space,” Hakkarinen said. “So this sort of idea of flex hours is a way to address that.”

The library is part of the university’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics and operates as a research and study facility with over 30,000 books, journals and archives.

Hakkarinen said that the library made the change after students expressed a desire to spend more time in the Bioethics Library. The library extends its hours during study days each semester from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends, and students expressed a desire to spend more study time in the library during the academic year. Last year, Anita Joshi (SFS ’15) created a petition to extend the hours that received 127 votes on IdeaScale.

“I was like, let’s just try this, let’s see how this works,” Hakkarinen said. “So we’ve made a lot longer study hours, including late at night, and [there] was really a great response.”

The library hired two new undergraduate students to staff the extended hours and have used some of their graduate student workers to help ease the transition. In case any problems arise during the extra hours, these students will work with Lauinger staff to resolve them.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be a student-run place in the evenings,” Hakkarinen said. “We also have contacts over in Lauinger Library, such as their evening supervisor, in case there is anything they need help with.”

The new flex hours will be paid for partly by the university and partly by allocating money from the library’s existing budget, Hakkarinen said.

Deputy Director of Reference at the library Martina Darragh said that the first few days produced mixed results.

“On Tuesday, that was the first night, we did have a good crowd up until 7,” Darragh said. “Then from 8 to 9, we didn’t have anybody at all. Now, of course, we’re not in exam time, but we’ll see.”
Hakkarinen said that the library staff will monitor capacity to ensure that the extended hours are an efficient use of resources.

“I think we had 25 people in there per hour [on Tuesday],” Hakkarinen said. “But if there’s one or two people in there, it’s not worth it for Georgetown. I think 30 people would be great per hour.”

One issue that the library faces is a general lack of awareness among students, according to Darragh, who noted that, while they receive a lot of repeat visitors, the amount of new students coming to the library to study has not changed.

“We do have a lot of regulars … coming to study in the library is part of their routine,” Darragh said. “Sometimes our regulars will say, ‘I don’t tell anyone else about this because I don’t want it to be spoiled.’”

Hakkarinen said he wants the flex hours to continue during the spring and fall semesters into the foreseeable future.

“If people are in there, I’ll keep doing it as long as we have money coming in,” Hakkarinen said said. “It’s a really reflective space, I think, and you get a different experience in there.”

Julia Ma (MSB ’15), who works in the library during the day, believes the increase in hours will bring more students to the library.

“Students want to work [at] this facility,” Ma said. “This is a really quiet place to work, it’s really nice, [so] once the word gets out, I’m pretty sure there will be more people.”

Laura Higbee (COL ’15) said she believes that once the flex hours become known, more people will come to study in the library.

“I think a lot of people haven’t discovered the Bioethics Library yet,” she said. “It’s a lot quieter than Lau, it’s a lot prettier than Lau. It’s a gorgeous library.”

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