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Library use at FGCU supports trend revealed in new study

Library use by students at Florida Gulf Coast University supports a study recently released by Pew Research Center.  Even in a digital world, a majority of young people still frequent libraries. Student government at FGCU recently took steps to make sure that library hours are consistent with student’s needs. 

In the week preceding finals at FGCU, the doors to the library swing open and shut with the frequency of a department store entrance on Christmas Eve – business is brisk.  For Freshman Katie Numacher, it’s a good place to study.

“I use it very often because I have a lot of papers and projects and it’s very calm.  Especially now that the hours are later I can go later and that’s when I can think better,” she said.

According to the Pew study, 60 percent of young adults frequent the library.  The study was released shortly after FGCU administrators cut library hours to 69.5 per week. This cost-cutting move was the result of state budget cuts. 

So student government, which has its own funds for recreation, entertainment, clubs and other student-oriented activities, stepped up with some of its funds toward restoring the hours. Student Government President Peter Cuderman said it was a good allocation of resources benefitting all students.

“We had a lot of students come to us and talk to us about how the library closed at 9 p.m. and was completely closed on Saturday,” he said. “In the morning last year it was open prior to classes starting. Now it was just a little before classes started in the morning so you had students working full time jobs or had class until 9 p.m. and now they couldn’t access the library.”

The library is now open for 108 hours, seven days a week, and stays open until 1 a.m. on weekdays.  

Cuderman, who graduates next year, said he spends a good deal of time at the library – and not just studying between classes.

“You have all the resources upstairs in the books and that’s something I have to cite in all my papers. There’s also different people you can talk to about how to improve your writing skills. There’s just too much in there for you not to utilize,” he said.

According to the Pew study young adults also use the library to borrow print and audio books and in some cases read magazines and newspapers.

For students on college campuses it’s a place to print off a paper on the run, meet up with friends, and perhaps most of all it’s a refuge -- a quiet place in an often hectic world.  That’s the case for student Chris Olteanu.

“I usually need a very quiet place to study and at home it doesn’t work because my parents are around and anywhere else on campus it’s just too busy,” he said.   “There I can really find a quite environment where I can focus.”

Another interesting fact from the Pew study – young adults – under the age of 30 tend to do most of their reading either on a cellphone – or a computer – not from e-readers.  This makes quiet computer work stations at the library choice spots.

Valerie Alker hosts All Things Considered. She has been a Reporter/Producer and program host at WGCU since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Southwest Florida and has also produced documentaries for WGCU-TV’s former monthly environmental documentary programs In Focus on the Environment and Earth Edition. Valerie also helps supervise WGCU news interns and contributes to NPR programs.