Johnson: KSL: A student resource? An open discussion

Grace Johnson, Staff Writer

As some of you may recall, I recently wrote an article discussing student frustrations regarding our beloved Kelvin Smith Library (KSL) and its post-COVID-19 operations—the most prominent being its limited operating hours. 

Following my article, I received an email from Team Leader Gina Midlik from Library Planning, Budget and Assessment asking if I would be interested in meeting with her and a couple of other library staff members to discuss my article. At first, I was terrified I had overstepped and abused my power as an opinion writer; however, it was quite the contrary. 

When I met with Midlik, Jose Diaz (Associate Director of Academic Engagement Services) and Arnold Hirshon (Vice Provost and University Librarian), I experienced friendly and open dialogue. I never felt reprimanded or out of line with my article, but rather that I had raised important questions and concerns regarding library operations that they were happy to address and discuss.

My previous article expressed that KSL should still be open 24 hours as it was pre-COVID-19, since it allowed for the most possible student engagement and ability to research and study as needed. However, they explained that once COVID-19 virus hit, every campus department underwent a substantial budget cut—the library was not an exception. 

With that budget cut, they can no longer afford to pay for the private security detail that had been responsible for keeping library operations safe during the night. They expressed that the same reasoning lies within the very minimal operating hours on Saturdays, along with a joke about how Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) students need the option to go home and relax on the weekend since we are all so involved and busy. 

While some of us—myself included—may have been quick to jump on KSL for getting rid of the 24-hour resource, we really need to be pressuring the head administration to allocate more money towards resources like the library over other unnecessary entities. To me, the library as a student resource takes precedence over other campus facilities and events—and I believe that a large number of my campus peers would agree. 

However, following various complaints, the board decided that they could extend library hours until 2 a.m.—instead of the usual 5 p.m., 8 p.m. or midnight—through Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Our conversation sparked an interest in our advocacy as students and showed that those in higher positions pay attention when discussing and debating student issues in healthy environments. Staff truly want us to reach out and ask questions so they can address our concerns—especially if we feel that the university is not supporting our educational pursuits at their fullest potential. 

Next time you have a query, no matter how small or the department it relates to, do not hesitate to reach out to campus staff. In my experience, they do genuinely appreciate our feedback and also want to make this campus the best possible environment