The original call for a 24/7 library service maybe traced to a Memorandum of 37 demands issued by the student movement mid-September 2016. This matter became part of the negotiations between Executive and the student movement. Then Acting DVC: Research & Innovation and the Executive Director HR met with the Library’s management team mid-November and asked for the 24/7 pilot to be scoped and by end of the month a draft plan was submitted together with alternative scenarios based on a benchmarking exercise of other universities in South Africa.
The feasibility of the pilot rested on the readiness of staff to volunteer for one of two extended shifts, one running from 16:00 until 00:00 and the other commencing at midnight and ending at 08:00. Three major cost elements that could be linked to the delivery of service during the 24/7 pilot included staffing costs, both permanent and temporary staff, transport costs and additional cleaning costs. Two sets of statistics were kept for the duration of the pilot, one relating to overall usage throughout each day; the other exclusively measuring visits during the “graveyard” midnight to 8am shift. To determine how the library was used during trial period, a two-hourly headcount of students was conducted. Over the course of this period, a total student headcount of 17 559 was reached. This however should be viewed in context that a number of students spent more than 2 hours in the library and would therefore have been counted more than once over the course of multiple two-hourly periods. Lastly, we also administered a mini survey asking students/visitors to complete as they leave the library. Three questions were multiple-type and the last question was open-ended, in total 791 responses were collected.