“It was very impressive that students felt strongly enough about the importance of the library to their academic lives that they stood up and spoke out.
How many other things are cut in tight budget times that you don’t hear so much as a whimper about?”
~The Honorable Jan Platt, longtime Hillsborough County Commissioner and USF Libraries donor
This August, when USF students returned to school, they got the news that the Library’s heavily-used 24-hour-a-day, 5-day-a-week operating schedule would cease as a result of funding cuts. The Library was slated to close at midnight and open at 7:30 am during the week. The news did not sit well with the thousands of students who rely on overnight hours to accomplish their schoolwork.
Immediately, a Facebook group was begun to discuss strategies for getting those overnight hours back. Late-night sit-outs were planned so that students could show their support for the Library hours while studying out in front of the building. A letter-writing campaign to USF President Judy Genshaft was orchestrated. The driving force organizing these actions was sophomore sociology major Melissa Garzon. Speaking to her motivation and swiftness, Garzon said, “I knew that, for change to happen, someone had to speak out. Someone had to start something — and no one was. The Facebook group was the quickest way to get students involved.” Garzon sent press releases to local media outlets, which involved the larger community in the story and even led to national press coverage.
While USF administrators and Student Government worked toward a solution for keeping the Library open overnight during the current academic year, students of all stripes shared their passion for the USF Tampa Library:
Sophomore biomedical sciences major David Lee works until 9:00 PM almost every night, so the Library’s evening and overnight hours were especially important to him. “I’m taking three science courses as well as my other classes so having the library available to me helps immensely, whether I have to print out worksheets… or just need a place to concentrate for exams after work.”
Student Shanah Pitilon contrasts the library with her dorm room and social environs: “The library has this environment of stillness and concentration that surpasses any other location on campus… So, for me, the library is an intellectual sanctuary where I can get away from the temptations of college life, tune out all distractions, and really concentrate on my studies.”
Graduate students demonstrated their passion for the Library as well. Applied Linguistics student Stephen Lindhorst said, “…the Library is essential for my success. My research would be impossible without the numerous journals, articles, and e-books that are made available through the great efforts taken by the Library. Instead of paying around $49.95 for an article, I can access the same article at no additional cost from the comfort of my own home. In addition, the new scanners match well with my needs as a mobile student by allowing me to scan sections of the materials for use in my course to carry with me on my phone or laptop.”
Before long, a resolution was reached that allowed the USF Tampa Library to stay open during those cherished overnight hours. Even still, students continued to reflect on what that access meant to them:
Exuberant about the return of the Library’s 24/5 hours, David Lee posted on the Facebook group’s page: “Pretty sure I demolished my bio exam tonight! Stayed at the lib till 3 last night and managed to get a majority of my homework for the next few days as well as a decent amount of studying done!”
Shanah Pitilon posted: “With two exams and two papers coming up this week for me, I think the reinstatement of the 24/5 hours came just in time! I wanted to participate in the sit-outs and such, but never did… So I just wanted to thank everyone who DID help fight to get 24/5 back..”
Let’s continue to make the USF Tampa Library the place where all USF students can achieve academic success. Contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or firstname.lastname@example.org to support student success initiatives in the Library.