The Shapiro Undergraduate Library — lovingly referred to by University of Michigan students as the “UGLi” — was bustling with activity on Wednesday night, as it is the only 24-hour library on Central Campus this semester. As midnight approached, a steady stream of students continued to enter the building, a telltale sign that other campus buildings had closed for the night.
In the earliest hours Thursday morning, around 40 students could be seen on the first floor of Shapiro Library, with more students filling the tables on upper floors.
The UGLi on Central Campus and the Duderstadt Center (“Dude” for short) on North Campus are the only campus buildings with 24-hour access. The Dude is open for 24 hours every day — with the exception of holidays — while the UGLi is open 24 hours Monday through Thursday, with reduced hours on the weekend.
University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen said the lack of 24-hour access to the UGLi throughout the weekend is a repercussion of the COVID-19 pandemic, which introduced labor shortages throughout the country. Broekhuizen said the University does not plan to extend hours at the UGLi to seven days of the week.
“The University library’s reduced hours and delayed return to overnight hours are partially a result of changes in the labor market that came about from the pandemic,” Broekhuizen said. “At this time (the University does) not plan on extending Shapiro hours to 24/7.”
As finals season approaches and many students rush to prepare for exams and papers, some have expressed concern about the lack of available study spaces on campus at night. The Hatcher Graduate Library, the UGLi’s close neighbor, is only open until 7:00 p.m. on weekdays. Most other campus buildings close at 6:00 p.m., though some are accessible by M-card until 10:00 pm. The Michigan Union is open until 2:00 a.m. throughout the week and over the weekend. But for those in search of a 3:00 a.m. study spot, the UGLi or the Dude are the only options.
Broekhuizen added that the University is working to extend the hours of the Hatcher Graduate Library, recognizing the lack of study space currently available.
“(The University is) working to put enough staff in place so they can extend evening hours at the Hatcher Library, which currently has little in the way of evening study hours,” Broekhuizen said.
On Thursday at 12:15 a.m., LSA freshman Zoe Limberopoulos was one of the night owls studying at the UGLi. Since the UGLi gets busy, Limberopoulos said it would be helpful if other buildings were open later.
“I think sometimes it can get almost a little bit unmotivating when you seem to just be in the same place like every night,” Limberopoulos said. “I think having more options, I would definitely be open to it and would definitely explore those places more.”
Limberopoulos also said since the UGLi attracts many students in the evening, it can be difficult to find spots to study.
“Sometimes when I try to come here with a friend or a couple (of) friends and it’s between 8 and 11, it’s kind of hard to find a spot, especially when you’re trying to find a spot with other people,” Limberopoulos said.
LSA seniors Nora Li and Lúthien Liu were also at the UGLi at around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday. Liu said the Central Campus Classroom Building is her favorite place to study on campus, so she would love it if she could stay there past 10:00 pm. Both Liu and Li agreed that they would like the opportunity to use the computer lab and study spaces in the Angell Hall Fishbowl late at night as well.
“I feel like it depends on the time, during the daytime, (the UGLi is) sometimes a little bit too crowded (for) me,” Li said.
LSA sophomore Kurt Beyer works as a library assistant in circulation access services at the UGLi. He said the library is busier than he would expect during his late shifts, which end at midnight.
“I’ve noticed that it’s gotten really busy at like 10 to midnight, which I don’t really expect, like every single spot on the first floor is full,” Beyer said. “It’s been extremely packed late at night, which I’ve never really noticed before (this semester). It just seems like there aren’t enough spaces for people on campus.”
Beyer added that the ongoing construction on the third floor of the UGLi is likely impacting congestion on other floors throughout the library.
“Once the third floor reopens, there will be about 250 more study spots available,” Beyer said.
The University’s total enrollment has risen from 43,651 students in 2015 to 51,225 students in 2022, an increase that Beyer thinks has had consequences in terms of study space availability on campus.
“How many new buildings have opened, really, that have a lot of study spots?” Beyer asked. “That’s why the campus feels a lot more crowded. It’s a focus (by the University) on revenue instead of improving the experience for the people that are already here.”
Daily Staff Reporter Carlin Pendell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.