A reduction in library hours, mostly due to a lack of funds and student use during certain hours, has Seton Hall students in an uproar.
A broadcast email was sent out on Aug. 26 stating the library will be open Sunday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“I look at things not only from dean, I’m still a faculty member, but also from students side. I was a student here too, and Seton Hall is a family,” Chrysanthy Grieco, dean of the library, said. “How can I not be disappointed? I’m not someone on the outside with a whip, but rather someone who knows (the school).”
The decision was made based on the number of students in the library during certain times. The detectors that flank the doors to the library count every time a student passes through. These numbers were recorded and several semesters were examined to see which hours students utilized the library the most.
Because there were not many students in the library during the night shift, Grieco and her team decided to let the night crew go and close the library, saving under $100,000.
“It’s very sad to me when you have to let people go. The idea is to be open, there is no question about that. We’re not debating that at all,” Grieco said. “This was a terrible situation for us all to face because frankly nobody wants to close the library, least of all the dean of the library.”
Grieco and her staff also reduced the number of “acquisitions,” or purchases, and databases the library uses.
Grieco and her staff know that the shortened hours will hurt some students.
“I regret the fact that there are nursing students that get out of late shifts and want to come to study. Graduate students who work all day and get out of class late, and we’re looking into what can we do, if we can bring back some hours,” Grieco said.
Grieco met with interim Provost Larry Robinson on Monday, and both agreed they would speak with students and reach a compromise on the hours.
Students created a Facebook group entitled “Help reverse SHU’s decision to close Walsh Library early,” protesting the change. They also have been circulating a petition.
As of print time, the group has 844 members with multiple wall posts from students who are concerned the times will not be adequate for students.
The Student Government Association took action after they initially heard of the issue from the Facebook group.
Arts & Sciences Senator and Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee Bryan Lucas and Jesse Beutell, the Chief of Staff for the SGA executive board, met with Grieco on Tuesday to begin negotiating a compromise on the hours and voice students’ concerns about the issue.
Both Lucas and Beutell said that the meeting was positive and productive.
“The dean expressed a great deal of interest in working with the SGA on this issue in particular, as well as on future projects of interest to the student body,” Lucas said. “Specifically, we discussed the distribution of hours in the revised library schedule and the potential for redistribution and expansion of those hours.”
“The disappointed response of the student body is completely understandable and, as a student myself, I share in that disappointment,” Lucas said. “However, as a member of the SGA, my focus has been on proactively working to help the administration understand the perspective of the students and hopefully, make reasonable adjustments that better suit our wants and needs.”
Lucas said the attendance from the general student body at Monday’s meeting was inspiring and hopes to continue to hear from students throughout the year.
Grieco was impressed and pleased with the actions the students are taking.
“I think they’re doing (what they should),” she said. “It’s perfect that students are meeting and electing true representatives to voice their concerns.”
Lucas plans on working with the Academic Affairs committee and the Executive Board to develop a specific recommendation to Dean Grieco and the administration based on their meeting. The recommendation will be reported to the senate and delivered to the dean next Tuesday.
“We cannot open 24 hours, we do not have the money for that,” Grieco said. “We are all tightening the buckle. It wasn’t done without thought. The compromises have to come here. The library is the heartbeat of the University. We can get a lot virtually, but the library is still a place where people study, discuss things and we are very sympathetic toward that.”