New library hours frustrate campus community


Daily Egyptian file photo

By Francois Gatimu

For some on campus, Morris Library’s new hours have caused a bit of inconvenience.

In March, the university announced that due to financial constraints, $400,000 would be cut from the library’s budget. This has resulted in reduced hours, including the main building being closed on Saturdays.

“It’s not pleasant not being able to be inside, or to study somewhere where it’s not quiet,” said Nicholas Sanislo, a graduate student studying psychology who was one of many doing homework outside the library on Saturday morning.


Sanislo said Saturday is his designated “catch-up” day, and having to study outside has made it harder for him to absorb his lessons.

“I am learning a lot of new information,” he said. “I’ve never been exposed to this information before and so I have to cut out the distractions and focus on this one thing.”

The library is also offering shorter hours on weekdays, staying open from 7:30 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and 1 p.m. to midnight on Sundays.

Susan Tulis, the library’s associate dean for information services, said these changes were the best case scenario after lengthy deliberations with library administration as they tried to come up with a way to create minimal inconveniences for students.

Though the main building remains closed on Saturday, Tulis said as a compromise, the library decided to keep the coffee shop common area near the main entrance open from noon to 4 p.m.

Still, Sanislo said the changes are frustrating.

“They are treating the university purely like a business,” Sanislo said.


Tulis said Saturday was the day chosen to be closed because it has relatively lower student turnout compared to Sunday.

“We sought every avenue to ensure the least amount of disruption for students,” Tulis said.

Much of the backlash, Tulis said, has come from people unaware of the changes who come on campus on Saturdays with the intention of using the library only to find it closed.

She said the situation is not ideal for anyone.

“We’re just as unhappy as the students,” Tulis said, “We had to make tradeoffs with the recent budget cuts.”

Dominique Johnson, a library affairs graduate assistant who works the Saturday shift at the library coffee shop, said she has received a lot of backlash from non-student patrons.

“A professor or guest might walk in looking for a quiet place to study only to find the main building closed,” Johnson said. “They’re really frustrated, especially if they drove a long way to get here.”

Johnson said the frustrations over shortened library hours have been unduly directed toward library staff, as they had to make do with the budget cuts they were dealt.

The shortened library hours have caused some to question the university’s dedication to research, leading some like Jason Cramer, a junior from Anderson, Indiana studying architecture, to label the decision “hypocritical.”

“If you’re going to cut crucial library hours, you might as well not call yourself a research institution,” Cramer said. “I do understand that some programs don’t make money as others do, but university cuts should go beyond just surveys. Cuts should incorporate a deeper understanding of their effects on students.”

Students are now relegated to use the tables outside the library before the coffee area opens on Saturdays at noon.

Bill McGraw, a retired businessman from Chicago and 1969 alumnus, currently serves on the Board of Directors at the SIU Foundation.

McGraw is a “Friend of Morris Library,” an organization dedicated to the promotion and support of the library. He arrived Saturday morning only to find the library doors closed.

“We were horrified when we walked in and it was closed,” McGraw said. “We didn’t expect it.”

Bill McGraw and his wife Gale, who are also university donors, had come down from Chicago for their regular board meeting on campus.

“We thought it was sacrilege,” Gale McGraw said in reference to the library’s new hours. “If nothing else is open, that should at least be open because that’s where students learn.”        

As a psychology student who studies cognitive brain science, Sanislo said the library changes could have a major impact on students accustomed to studying in the library.

“If you’ve been coming here and sitting in the same chair on the same floor, this can really affect your study habits,” Sanislo said.  “It gets scary when they normalize placing less priority to things such as the library that are pivotal to education.”

Staff writer Francois Gatimu can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @frankDE28.

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