Shortened Library Hours Point to Deeper Problems

While the Decrease in Hours is Annoying, the Inattention to Academic Resources is Devastating


Published: October 8, 2009

I sat alone and uncomfortable in the back of the library, finishing all the reading I had due the following day. As my ass grew number and number and my attention span shorter and shorter, I began to realize that my work would take much longer than I had expected. I had reached the apex of productivity and I was slowly headed toward the abyss of pure inactivity. Then, to my surprise, the lights to the library flicked on and off to signal the approaching closing time. How could this be? Had I zoned out while reading and lost track of time?

Later, I found myself outside the library wondering why on earth it had closed at midnight. For years I had relied on the pristine, early hours of the morning to counteract my procrastination and finish all my last-minute work, and at this moment, I was screwed. I had a chapter left to read, and I knew when I returned to my room I would find myself on my couch with my roommates, taking advantage of the Domino’s 5-5-5 deal, playing video games like Left 4 Dead and Saints Row 2 and watching really good movies like “Space Jam” or “Muppets From Space.”

Take this story lightly, as I am not this much of an idiot. However, I have observed similarly desperate reactions to the library closing a mere two hours early. Yes, I actually love Left 4 Dead and Saints Row 2 (and for the record, “Space Jam” is awesome), but that’s beside the point. The fact the library is now closing two hours early is a little scrape at the surface that has a bigger wound underneath; it is not the library’s fault that it has lost university funding.

Fordham University has kept up a level of prestige as an institution because, among other things, it remains dedicated to the academic integrity of its students. However, the fact that the university has cut the library’s budget is a huge kick-in-the-pants to this dogma.

Some often say that it is not the action, but the thought behind it that counts. In this case, the fact that a school is cutting library funding is absurd. Sure, it’s only two hours, but there is a greater, underlying issue at hand. The library, a center for study and research, is (or should be) the cornerstone academic resource for any student. It is one of the most important things a student is given at this school, besides the classes themselves.

For many students, the library is the only place where they can quietly do school work. Resident students can travel to the study lounges, but the setting is so often socially-oriented that it is close to impossible to concentrate on anything other than the conversations at hand. You could always go to your room, but then you end up with “Space Jam” and pizza.

Truly, I feel bad for the commuter student who has no place other than home to study 24/7. Studying at home can be very difficult, as you are constantly pestered and annoyed with the thoughts of procrastination. Students often find watching T.V. or playing with the dog to be more productive than studying Spanish or philosophy.

Fordham offers commuters no study place after 12 a.m. Apparently, the third floor lounge of Lowenstein is open. Who knew? Certainly not the building staff. With the escalators and lights shut off by eleven, the third floor remains an unwelcoming and unknown resource to any commuter attempting a late night study session. Discrepancies among security and school policy that commuters often get kicked out of this lounge by 11 p.m. or midnight, anyway.

I would hope that commuters would plan to leave school before these hours, as the train schedules are quite tricky at late night hours; however, midterms and finals create a time crisis that can only be solved with long study hours. For this problem, Fordham offers no solution.

I am genuinely hurt that a school would even think to cut funding to such an indispensable resource. There are so many other things that may have been a little less important, although I wouldn’t be surprised if funding for all those things was cut as well.

One major expenditure for Fordham that could stand to have its budget cut is the numerous development projects that Fordham is trying to fund at this moment. I would hope that these development projects also lost funding. However, these projects are held at such high priority levels that other areas of the university remain under-developed, only to create more favor among prospective students—who will, in turn, gripe at library hours when they arrive. I also question the legitimacy of such high-profile, wine-and-cheese events held at Fordham for alumni and other cake-eaters. The administration wants to make the university physically look good, rather than to make the university actually better.

Under-developing libraries is all the rage among some of the top schools in the nation. Libraries at Cornell, Yale and Harvard (to name a few) have all seen reduced hours this year due to budget cuts. Schools like Stanford University, who cut 60 staff positions, tried to avoid cutting library hours by cutting people. On the other hand, schools like Princeton have even begun closing their libraries before 12 a.m. Lucky for us (not so much for Princeton), we lie right in the middle with the extent of cuts. However, all these libraries and, most importantly, Quinn Library are having to cut library necessities. Not only staff and hours are being cut, but the budgets to buy books are also getting cut. Schools are forgetting the importance of libraries in a student’s education. A priority shift needs to happen.

As for now, it is difficult to even think what can be changed until Fordham realizes that cutting library hours is disadvantageous to the academic development of its students. However, one thing is clear: people need to stop their huffing and puffing and just get over it for now. You simply have to take the lemons and make lemonade, even if there is no sugar to make it sweet.

You may have to play less Left 4 Dead and Saint’s Row 2 during the day; rather than fighting zombies and creating complete anarchy blowing up fictitious cities, venture into academia, where you actually do something with your free time. When you come home from work, rather than lay on your bed for three hours enjoying nothingness, try laying down and reading the next chapter in your history book. And when the witching hour approaches, the time you normally and regretfully begin your schoolwork (sometime after 11 p.m.) you may actually be all done and able to go to bed early. All this because the library closed two hours early. What a damn inconvenience.