By Karsen Wahal
Stanford libraries have struggled with staffing shortages and adjustments to new pandemic protocols since the return of in-person learning. Like late-night dining, libraries are currently operating under restricted access and hours, leaving some students struggling to find places to do work after hours.
Green Library — the largest University library — once remained open every day and until 1 a.m. on weekdays. It now closes at 8 p.m. on most weekdays, 5 p.m. on Fridays and all day on Saturday. When the pandemic hit, Green Library shifted its resources, including those related to research and teaching, to an online setting, according to Executive Director of Communications and Development for Stanford Libraries Gabrielle Karampelas.
“Green Library was actually one of the first buildings on campus to reopen on a limited basis, around June of 2020,” Karampelas said. “As the pandemic continued and strains on the University budget were occurring, we made adjustments that really impacted our hours.”
When students returned to campus, Green Library sought to increase its hours in order to provide students with quiet, safe study spaces. However, due to the difficult labor market, libraries have struggled to hire enough workers to expand their hours, Karampelas said.
The changes to library hours have had a profound impact on some Stanford students.
Before the pandemic, Calico Ducheneaux ’23 and her friends would spend multiple hours in Green Library every night. Now, their study routine has been upended.
“My late-night grind of going to the library from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. almost every weeknight just can’t happen anymore,” Ducheneaux said. “I just end up studying in my room and I’ve been staying up way later because I can’t really be productive in that setting, since it’s loud and social. It’s been tough.”
Changes to library hours have affected students of all ages. Most frosh end up studying in their rooms or in their dorm lounges, rather than in libraries or study rooms, according to Ducheneaux, who is a resident assistant in a frosh dorm.
Despite labor shortages, libraries are already instituting changes to reopen fully, according to Karampelas. The Law Library, once unavailable to undergraduates, is now open to all Stanford community members during regular hours, according to Stephanie Ashe, Director of Media Relations at the Stanford Law School.
Similarly, the University is seeking solutions to its staffing shortage, such as increasing student worker shifts, in order to increase library hours, according to Karampelas. In January, the Library System plans to open up the east side of Green Library, which is currently undergoing construction, in order to provide students a space for individual and collaborative work, Karampelas said.
In the meantime, students can turn to Lathrop Library, which has a small 24-hour studying space. The University did not respond to a request for comment on alternative study spaces beyond Lathrop.