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Occasional Papers

Occasional Paper 23: After Midnight: Late Night Library Services

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Prepared by Lori Driscoll and Angela Mott

This study investigated ARL libraries’ regular hours and, if there were late night hours, whether accommodations were made to the building and who had access; which services were offered, how they were staffed, by whom, and at what pay; and who provided building security and what other security services were offered.

There were two phases for this project. First, Web sites of ARL libraries in the United States were examined for their stated hours. Second, the head of access services or equivalent at each academic ARL institution in the US and Canada was invited to complete an online survey about the types of services offered, staffing, and security for all hours after midnight.

The authors also reviewed and report on eight other studies of extended hours. Four of these were case studies at individual institutions, three were comparative studies of extended hours across multiple libraries, and the broadest study was a SPEC Kit published in 2001.

The survey data show that most research libraries are not regularly open for 24 hours. Of the 43 that offered some type of regular 24-hour access, 28 used a 24–5 schedule, two used a 24–6 schedule, and 13 used a 24–7 schedule. Of the 70 institutions not regularly open 24 hours, 84% offered later hours at some point during the year. The responses generally indicated that this was during the finals period, which ranged from a few weeks prior to finals to only the days final exams were given.

Although the authors found a few trends for after-midnight hours and services in academic research libraries, the diversity of services offered and models used also indicate that libraries are responsive to their unique demographics and local demands. These data can be used by other institutions to inform their own planning, assessment, and modifications to extended-hours services in their libraries based on their particular circumstances.

Ordering Information

Occasional Paper 23: After Midnight: Late Night Library Services
Lori Driscoll and Angela Mott
December 2008 • ISBN 1-59407-813-0 • 58pp. • $25
Order from ARL Publications