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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

UF, Student Government have no plans to bring back 24-hour library despite demand

A disagreement between who should fund a 24-hour library leaves students without one

Library West is seen on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.
Library West is seen on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

As UF’s libraries tend to be at the highest capacity during midterms and finals, students are asking for a 24-hour library on campus. But no one wants to provide the necessary funding.

Traditionally, Library West was the 24-hour library from 2012 to 2017 and 2019, but UF Libraries more recently changed it to Marston Library. However, the 24-hour schedule came to a halt once COVID-19 hit, and it never came back.

Now, some UF students are upset they do not have a 24-hour library option on campus.

The cost to keep any of the libraries open 24 hours is about $250,000 each year, Patrick Reakes, UF Libraries Senior Associate Dean, Scholarly Resources and Services, said.

UF Libraries is not in control of the funding needed to keep facilities open for 24 hours, Reakes said. That responsibility falls onto Student Government and UF administration.

“I’m always happy to do it as long as somebody provides the funding for it,” he said.

Newell Hall was renovated in 2017 and made to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But the building is a social study space for students, not a library, so it is missing many student resources such as study rooms and computers, Reakes said.

“I think the reality of it is, a lot of the use is just people want a place to go in and study,” he said.

Daniel Antonio Miguel, 28, went to Newell Hall on a Tuesday night. The history senior, who relies on the libraries to work in a quiet space with stable WiFi, was met with insufficient seating and no quiet study areas.

“By 1 a.m., once those libraries closed, the building was just flooded with students,” he said.

Miguel said having a 24-hour library is essential, especially with UF now being a top-five public institution and the top university in the state, according to U.S. News and World Report.

“The fact that other state universities offer some form of 24-hour availability, but the University of Florida isn’t, it feels wrong,” he said “It feels almost like a betrayal.”

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Florida universities like Florida International University, University of South Florida and Florida State University, each offer a 24-hour library open four days a week for students.

Miguel said he wants SG president Cooper Brown to reconsider offering some form of 24-hour library service.

“If student body President Cooper Brown and the student government determines that they cannot offer a 24-hour library, I would ask President Fuchs to step in and provide that service,” he said.

However, neither SG nor the school’s administration want to take on the added costs.

Cooper Brown, UF Student Government President, is disappointed in the school’s administration for avoiding its responsibility of supporting academic study space and forcing students to shoulder the burden with additional fee support, he wrote in an email. 

Student activity fees are used to fund recreational sports, SG, student activities and involvement, the Reitz Union, and Sorority and Fraternity Affairs, not academic units, he wrote.

Brown encourages students to contact Dean of University Libraries Judith Russell and the UF Provost Joe Glover directly with their desire to see a 24/7 library. He hopes students challenge the administration to do the right thing and fund academic spaces using tuition dollars that are intended to support academic buildings, he wrote. He believes that’s how it should have been from the start.

Russell and Glover did not respond to questions about the reason for termination of 24-hour libraries or future plans to restore them. Brown also did not provide comment on when SG started funding the libraries and plans to fund them in the future.

Minority party leader Gabrielle Adekunle (District D, Change) wrote in a text that she, along with other Change Party senators, are working to set up a committee to advocate expanding student resources at UF, including making Library West a 24-hour building.

UF currently has no plans to restore funding for 24-hour library operations, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando wrote in an email. He said data collected in 2017 when the provost agreed to fund 24-hour access in Library West reflected minimal library activity during those overnight hours.

“The fairly low number of students using the libraries during those extended hours did not justify the added costs and liabilities,” Orlando wrote.

UF leadership is looking into other options for after-hours study spaces, he said, and will provide more information about that when the time is appropriate.

Contact Camila Pereira at cpereira@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @CamilaSaPereira.

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Camila Pereira

Camila is a third-year journalism student and the administration reporter on the university desk. When she is not reporting for The Alligator, Camila is always listening to music and probably drinking honey milk tea.


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