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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone wants campus libraries open 24/7

Libraries staying open all the time means your peers have to stay and work there, too

Opinions generic
Opinions generic

A lot of UF students want at least one of the on-campus libraries to remain open 24/7. The Alligator reported on it, and a few nights ago, as I was mindlessly tapping through the stories on my Instagram feed, I saw someone posted a picture outside of Marston Science Library and wrote: “@UFLORIDA PLZ BRING BACK 24/7 LIBRARIES.”

Not everyone wants them back.

I’ve been a Federal Work Study student since the Fall of my freshman year. The FWS program provides students with part-time employment to meet the costs of college, and it is federally funded and need-based. I and many other FWS students use it to pay for things like groceries, rent and insurance. 

I’ve worked jobs on different corners of campus, and when I took a job at Newell Hall in the Spring of 2021, the space hadn’t yet opened back to 24/7 because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The space is open 24/7 now. And it’s awful.

The dreaded graveyard shifts are back, which means FWS students must work shifts from 1:30 to 7:30 a.m. just so about 10 students at most can socialize or snooze. 

Those shifts are spent watching the clock lurch forward at a snail’s pace as you wonder how you’ll stay awake for your morning class in a few hours. 

Safety is an issue, too. A lot of FWS students don’t have cars, and even if they do, parking isn’t readily available around Newell or any of the libraries, for that matter. This means student employees are walking across campus at 1 a.m. to clock in. And given the number of sexual assault cases that have occurred in Gainesville recently, walking on campus alone at night is not a safe idea, even if it is only for a few minutes. 

Opening up another 24/7 space isn’t worth the burden it creates on the students who have to work there. The positions at Library West and Marston Science Library are open primarily for Federal Work Study students, too. 

About 1,300 FWS students are provided with financial aid every year at UF, and speaking as one of them, we need these jobs to live. 

I agree with Steve Orlando when he said, “The fairly low number of students using the libraries during those extended hours did not justify the added costs and liabilities.”

I know some want those spaces open so they can cram all night for exams or assignments. But maybe we should prioritize student employees, many of whom need the money to pay for crucial living expenses, before we prioritize students who can’t manage their time well. 

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Abigail Hasebroock is a UF journalism junior and a frustrated Federal Work Study student.

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