CAUL Council of Australian University Librarians.
Library Weekend Hours
CAUL Questionnaire (NNCU 25/3/96)
Question 1: What hours are you open at weekends?
Of the 29 libraries who responded all opened at weekends and all
but one on both days. It was common for libraries to open the
same hours each day. Only 7 libraries opened different hours.
Hours ranged from 7¾ up to 20, with the most common figure
being 8 hours (12 libraries) and the most common hours 1-5 pm.
The range of hours was from 8 am to 9 pm, 5 pm was by far the
most common finishing time.
Question 2: Do you offer the full range of services?
9 libraries said yes, 2 no, 18 almost.
Question 3: If not, what services do you offer?
Of the 20 main libraries which did not provide a full range of
services the most common service to be "watered down"
was that of "Information Services" where Faculty advisory
or subject specialist services, in-depth reference queries and
mediated online searching were either not available or available
only if there was time and the right person was on duty. Special
collections/rare books, document delivery and AV were also not
as available, or available only by prior arrangement. Services
were even more limited in branch libraries, with only loans and
special reserve offered in some cases. Only 2 libraries indicated
that they offered periods where "core services" were
not available: Murdoch offers no Reference Service from 10 am
- 1 pm, Adelaide which extends opening hours during weekends around
exam time (9am - 5pm, rather than 1pm - 5pm), offers only reserve,
photocopies and OPAC 9am - 1pm (ie. No lending, reference, CD
Question 4: What level and numbers of staff do you use at weekends
and for what services?
This has not been tabulated because of the detail and because
we were interested in the patterns of staff only in times when
services are markedly reduced. Only two libraries do this: Murdoch
has 4 library officers, Level 2/3 or 3/4, 10 am - 5.30 pm and
a librarian 5/6 or 7/8, 1 pm - 5.30 pm only. Adelaide has 3 staff
9 am - 1 pm : 1 minding the exit, 1 serving reserve, 1 picking
up books, reshelving, relief etc. Of those libraries which indicated
whether they used casual or weekday staff or a mix: 6 used casuals
only 4 used weekday staff. 5 used a mixture. It was common for
the Information Desk person to be a member of the weekday staff.
Question 5/6 Problems/Comments (relating to reduced services)
- NNCU Library staff are concerned that students would be frustrated
if services were not available when the Library was open and could
cause problems in areas that are normally staffed, eg. CD-Roms.
- ADFA We agree that the Library should aim to have as many
services available on weekends as in the week. Important for postgraduate
students conducting own work.
- Murdoch Yes, users have been abusive towards loans desk staff
when told that the reference service from the Information Desk
is only available from 1.00 pm. There has been requests from our
lending Services Librarian to review our present practice. I have
been adamant about all this saying that the majority of users
would rather have the Library open longer with less assisted services,
than more assisted services for shorter periods of time. There
have been similar expressions here, but see my answer above. The
alternative is not to offer morning services at all. I bet students
would prefer to having reading facilities, access to photocopiers,
access to the journal and book holdings. Libraries are not the
only places to restrict services during weekends, evenings and
nights. One won't be able to get blood tests in a hospital!!!
It is simply a question of costs; trying to meet the needs of
the maximum number of users at least cost over the greatest spread
- UWS H No real problems. Education of clients early in the
year about the restricted services available at certain times
an important factor.
- Adelaide No problems yet, but we have concern about security.
University Security office is aware that we are open and are on
the alert to give assistance if required. There are some frustrations
about not being able to borrow, but that is never very serious.
- Charles Sturt I agree with the comments of NNCU library staff.
If a study hall is required that can be anywhere else on campus.
- Swinburne We have looked at the study hall concept and concluded
that this would be possible if you could seal the area off from
the remainder of the library. Once you allow users into the library
they expect to be able to use most of the services and equipment
and to receive assistance from trained staff.
- Sydney While we try to provide a pretty full range of services
at weekends the actual level/quality of service is often lower
than during the week when regular, experienced staff are on duty.
We are used by a large number of outside users at weekends who
require additional assistance. As services increase in complexity
(e.g. use of CD-Roms and other electronic databases) it becomes
harder to maintain a satisfactory level of service.
- NTU We feel that we should provide the full range of services
whenever we are open since the services are provided for the clients'
convenience, not that of the staff. With a high proportion of
part time students, some of our heaviest demand falls outside
'business' hours - and some of the clients can only come at such
times. We aim to provide an increasing proportion of services
electronically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (and are consequently
most frustrated by the delays in implementing Electronic Reserve!).
Last May I had the opportunity to visit a University Library in
Ireland which opened 9-6 on Saturdays with a single security guard
at the entrance/exit and no services except the OPAC, browsing
and study. Not even the networked CD-Roms were available! It was
a sad, neglected and lonely place that reflected poorly on the
- Bond In 1995 the Main Library was open 10am - 1pm on Sundays
with loans only and for study purposes. The number of users during
this period was limited except near exam time. We didn't experience
any problems, except for the reduced numbers. At Bond we haven't
had sufficient staff available to see if staffing the reference
desk for the extra hours would make an appreciable difference.
I would be interested in other people's experience of this.
- E. Cowan We are reviewing weekend opening with a view to saving
Updated 7 June, 1996
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