Limited Hours at Study Spaces Caused by Worker Shortages

Zack Miller | The PhoenixDuring midterms, students may have noticed shorter hours in some of their favorite on-campus study spaces

As students adjust back to in-person classes, many are spending time studying in campus facilities. However, students have noticed Cudahy Library and the Information Commons (IC) are operating under different schedules than they were before the pandemic began. 

The Director of the Information Commons, Paul Voelker, said this is due to an unexpected staffing shortage. 

It’s unclear how many employees have left.

The IC has been open from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. throughout the school week, except for Friday, when it closes at 9 p.m. On the weekends, the building is typically open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Sunday. 

Another popular study spot for students, Cudahy Library, also saw a change in hours. The building now opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. during the school week, with shorter hours during the weekend — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 1-9 p.m. on Sunday.

Before classes moved online, the IC was open 24 hours, while Cudahy Library was open until midnight.

Connections Cafe, a spot which offers coffee and snacks between the two buildings, has also been temporarily closed as a result of this shortage.

“This is a temporary measure, and we look forward to resuming pre-pandemic hours as soon as it’s possible,” Voelker said, adding that the IC does intend on extending its schedule to be open 24 hours during finals at the end of the semester.

When asked about the reasons behind the shortage of staff members, Voelker said the shortages are due to regular staff departures and “are not related to COVID-19.” 

He added that there are active searches underway for all open staff positions and that the University Libraries are hoping to fill the positions as quickly as they can. When asked if he knew when the buildings might return to pre-pandemic hours, Voelker said that “with searches of this nature, it’s not really possible to predict an exact timeline.” 

Voelker also explained there are typically two to three student employees working with a full-time library staff member during each shift, and that this ratio hasn’t changed since the pandemic.  

Manar Kashk, a junior biology student, said it has been difficult to stay productive in her apartment, especially after spending the last year online. 

“I feel once you have a designated study space, you become comfortable there and don’t really want to study anywhere else,” Kashk, 20, said. 

Kashk said she has struggled to find a place to study because her classes end around 7 p.m. — just two hours before Cudahy closes during the week. When searching for alternatives, she said it has also been hard to come by spaces available in the IC as it’s typically busy. 

There are also some measures within the buildings that Kashk said she feels are incentives for students to leave earlier. Within the IC and Cudahy Library, food is not permitted, which means students have to leave the two main study spaces on campus if they want to have a meal.

However, Voelker said this policy is “in alignment” with the current COVID precautions — specifically the indoor mask mandate — in place at Loyola.

Rameen Awan, a junior double majoring in Spanish as well as molecular and cellular neuroscience, also tends to stay late at Cudahy Library and the IC studying. 

“I like to have the mental separation between where I live and relax and where I do my work,” the 20-year-old said.

Awan said she used to study frequently at Palm Court in the Mundelein Center before the pandemic, but that this semester it seems the space is typically being used for campus events or lacks seating.

Due to the circumstances, Awan said she believes the university should pursue adding additional study spaces for students. 

“I honestly think that would be really worthwhile,” Awan said.

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