UC Berkeley libraries to extend hours, hire more staff

Photo of Main Stacks
Erica Cardozo/Staff
Several campus libraries plan to extend their operating hours once sufficient student employees are hired.

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Several UC Berkeley libraries will be extending their hours once additional employees are hired to cover the required shifts.

These extended hours are planned at Doe Library, Main Stacks, the Engineering Library, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library and the Environmental Design Library, according to Elizabeth Dupuis, senior associate university librarian. Doe Library and Main Stacks will extend their hours until 2 a.m. once sufficient additional employees are hired.

“When UC Berkeley’s libraries opened their doors in the fall of 2021, we were unable to offer as many library hours as we could before the pandemic due to reduced staffing and budget reductions,” Dupuis said in an email. “Students’ calls for longer hours led campus leaders to provide temporary emergency funding for several libraries to offer additional hours in the spring semester.”

Dupuis noted libraries offering the greatest number of study spaces around campus, as well as libraries traditionally used most by students, were chosen for extended hours.

The libraries will continue instituting the same COVID-19 mitigation measures that have been in place since March 2021, aligning with public health guidelines, Dupuis added. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors will be required to wear face coverings and will not be permitted to bring food and drinks.

Since the additional hours requested by students and campus could not be provided with current staffing levels, Dupuis noted, the library will be hiring two evening/weekend work leaders and more student library employees.

“The Library, like all campus units, must adjust to a reduced budget,” Dupuis said in the email. “We will have to balance cuts across all operations and services.”

Students are excited at the prospect of certain libraries extending their hours, while also expressing concerns regarding the library staff’s working conditions.

Campus sophomore Julia Hsieh, who currently works as a library infodesks assistant, detailed the potential benefits and drawbacks of extended library hours.

Hsieh said libraries opening for longer hours will allow students who are “night owls” more time to study in an environment with minimal distractions. She added some library employees may look forward to making extra money from night shifts.

On the other hand, Hsieh added these extended hours may be “tough” on student employees who are called to work later shifts.

“I wouldn’t want to work until 2 a.m. just because of safety and I’m an early bird … but I know a lot of my coworkers prefer working late since it’s quieter and more peaceful for them,” Hsieh said in an email. “I once did an overnight shift during dead week last semester and it was so rough. I could barely stay awake and I just ended up sleeping the entire rest of the day.”

The most up-to-date information on library hours can be found on the UC Berkeley library website’s  hours page.

Contact Serene Chang at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @_serenechang.