Will Long

The ground floor of the John T. Richardson Library located in DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus.

EDITORIAL: Library access is a resource we can’t afford to lose

February 12, 2023

DePaul students must take action and demand the return of 24/7 finals study hours in response to the announcement that the John T. Richardson Library in Lincoln Park is discontinuing its extended hours effective immediately. 

At a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Feb. 9 SGA President Kevin Holechko stated that from this point forward, the library will no longer provide a space for students to study around the clock for the week of final exams. This change goes into effect immediately. There will be no extended hours for winter quarter finals. 

We urge the university to reconsider.  

It is essential for students’ academic success that this study space is provided 24/7 hours of operation during the most stressful time of the quarter. 

In writing this editorial, we are guided by our commitment to the truth and our purpose of informing DePaul’s community. 

Holechko said this decision to discontinue the additional final hours was made due to a lack of funding from the university, which prohibited the library from hiring adequate staff to be open continuously. 

Additionally, the library attributed this change to low engagement past 1 a.m. But that shouldn’t matter.

The university’s decision, which effectively inhibits its ability to provide a quiet, reliable study space during the most hectic time of the quarter, is abhorrent. DePaul is deprioritizing the needs of its students with the removal of this critical resource.

The library’s operating hours have been subject to debate in the past.

In fall 2017, late-night hours were taken away at the library, reducing the long-standing closing time from 2 a.m. to midnight. This move came as a shock to students and resulted in a petition that garnered over 2,000 signatures and a “study-in” at the library, in which students ignored requests by public safety to leave after the library closed at midnight, according to a former DePaul student

Following the pressure of the petition and the “study-in,” library administrators met with the Office of the Provost and struck a deal to return the closing time to 2 a.m., beginning Winter Quarter 2018

In fact, the library still held these same hours in early 2020 until it shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic and quietly removed them when it reopened in Fall 2022. This came without an acknowledgement of the change on the library newsroom website. 

“Our biggest goal [is to become] the national model for higher education,” said President Robert L. Manuel at the Design DePaul event. 

We believe that goal is not achievable if the university does not actively invest in every possible avenue for us to succeed. 

Any student that works, has a night class, or is impacted by a slew of other factors understands how hard it is to find time to study. Relegating students who live on campus to their dorm rooms to study during finals is not a solution. 

Universities of comparable size, like the University of Chicago, Northwestern and Loyola Chicago, have similar regular library operating hours. However, all of these institutions still utilize a 24/7 or 24/5 model during finals — a common standard in higher education. 

If DePaul has its sights set on being the “national model for higher education,” it should be operating on an equivalent schedule. We cannot hope for this if we cannot prove DePaul cares about its students academically, socially or emotionally. 

Over 80% of DePaul students are commuters, many of whom rely on the library and its services to provide a second place for many hours of the week. During finals, schedules are unpredictable. The library provides a necessary and reliable place for students to work. 

Students who live on campus and in the dorms have limited access to quiet study spaces, as they share space with others who have different schedules. Lounges in the dorms fill up quickly and every other academic building closes earlier than the library. 

The university’s mission statement states, “DePaul supports the integral human development of its students. The university does so through its commitment to outstanding teaching, academic excellence…” 

Cutting the library’s hours does not stand in line with the mission to provide a high-quality education centered in Vincentian values. Without this vital support from the university, students’ most stressful week of classes is exacerbated. 

Holechko stated if the university explores expanding the library’s hours again, he would support it. 

“This has always been an area people knew they could go to and now that’s being taken away,” Holechko said. “I would challenge the school to be on the lookout for that safe space.”

Holechko did not disclose whether he would actively advocate for a “safe space.” We call him to do so, as the SGA constitution outlines he was elected to represent the interests of the student body — not the university.  

We are continuously told that DePaul aspires to be a world-class intuition. As students and members of the Vincentian family, we are called to answer the question, “What must be done?” 

In this case, we are not asking, but telling DePaul what it must do for its community of learners’ success, rather than for its bottom line.   

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  • A

    AugustFeb 13, 2023 at 9:53 pm

    whoa what an interesting article championing the rights of the 5 whole people who are in the library at 3 am

  • E

    ErickaFeb 13, 2023 at 10:47 am

    Urge the university and president that the library must be PAID ADAQUATELY AND FULLY STAFFED in order to have this service for everyone; people must also USE THE LIBRARY AT ALL TIMES to show that it’s a vital resource for the library. Support the library by supporting staff – we all need each other.

  • G

    GraceFeb 13, 2023 at 9:43 am

    tell the university and the president that you want the library to be fully staffed!! the only reason the 24 hours got cut this time was because of being insanely understaffed