Open for 24 hours”: lessons learnt from the North-West University library services
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This article reports on the lessons learnt by the Library Services of the North-West University (NWU), Mafikeng Campus in North-west province, South Africa, with regard to extending library opening hours for 24 hours (Monday to Friday) during the November/December examination period in 2015. The students’ call for 24-hour physical library services was part of the much talked about demand for “free quality education” coupled with the popular hash tag, #FeesMustFall. In the case of the NWU Mafikeng Campus, the protests began when students staged a “sit-in” on 20 October 2015, demanding that the library remain open for 24 hours. Management acceded somewhat to the students’ demands, having considered the time lost when the campus was closed due to continued student protests. Although the students were demanding permanent 24-hour physical library services, management only agreed to open the library on a trial basis during the delayed examination period. The major lesson learnt was that students were not primarily in the library for library transactions, but rather to study in conducive environment despite the existence of a separate 24-hour study centre located in the basement of the library. This shows the need for the reconfiguration of the library’s 24-hour study centre into a space that supports independent study. The article suggests that libraries should be able to support students if they recreate the library environment in their 24-hour study centres.
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