The midnight of 21st August, 2017 saw a total chaos at the library as guards went around asking people to leave. It was a state of confusion as people flocked to the baggage counter trying to make sense of the situation. Was it finally happening? When was this decided? Why was nobody informed about this? Yes, library timings were finally reduced by 2 hours. After weeks of negotiations and dozens of posts on social media, the issue was put to rest.
The Student senate was informed on 8th August that the proposed time to shut the library is 10:30 PM citing electricity costs. It was a speculative reason as there was excess electricity wastage elsewhere which could have been curbed instead of compromising the library timings. As a solution to this problem, the administration proposed to open multiple 24×7 study rooms out of which, one is in the library’s old magazine section and the rest in the hostels; there are three rooms, one in each cluster: 1A, 2A and 3B.
One major problem that the administration failed to consider was the heterogeneous nature of our study groups. The one in the library is the only gender-neutral space to engage in group study or discussions. The Executive Council of the Student Council was involved in the initial negotiations and they put forth the demand to convert the hostel study rooms into gender neutral areas. It is kept on hold until DSW inspection. As a part of this article, we spoke to students to get a better perspective. Some issues need the urgent attention of the administration:
- One serious problem that exists right now is the capacity of these rooms. According to the administration, these rooms have a capacity of 70 to 80 students. Is that the reality? No. All of them can accommodate not more than 45 each.
- Shutting down the library is also restricting our access to resources mainly books and journals. Not all books can be issued. There is no solution to deal with this problem.
- There is no definite assessment period when the library can be kept open till 2 AM. SNU follows the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation system which means we have tests, quizzes and submissions throughout the semester.
- The DSW inspection needs to cover simple aspects such as access to washrooms if these spaces are gender neutral. The nearest place one can use from the library is D block.
Was shutting the library early the only possible solution? The library staff did a headcount to check the number of students post 10 PM. Is this a legitimate way to decide especially at the beginning of the semester when nobody has academic work? These questions are left unanswered.
The Vice Chancellor, Dr. Rupamanjari Ghosh met the Student Council to discuss the issue where she increased the time from 10 PM to 12 AM but she did not mention any implementation date. There was no notification from anybody in the admin to inform the students about this change. It was implemented with just a notice put up on both the notice boards near the library counter.