By Jason Avina
After nearly two years of closure, the library recently announced that it would now be open to in-person usage but restrictions apply.
Students can make a maximum of two appointments per day, one before 4pm, and the second after 4pm. Also each appointment cannot be longer than two hours. Students must show proof of vaccination and masks are required at all times. Hours are posted on the website.
However, for some students who work in the mornings or afternoon, a two-hour appointment might not be enough. Izzy Ramirez is a culinary student at City College who also works full-time as a barista. “If a professor assigns more than two hours of work, then I’m not going to get your seven hours of work done,” she said. “Especially since a lot of students don’t have somewhere else to study.”
The library website said the library was closed for so long because of “pandemic concerns.” However, since last fall, almost every other major college library in the Bay Area has been open all academic year (or longer) with proof of vaccination including Berkeley, SFSU, USF and Stanford. Even Berkeley City College, Alameda College, and other community colleges have offered in-person services since fall.
So why so long for City College? In the past the library has had maintenance issues, but it has been closed for almost two years, likely enough time to fix such issues. Building and grounds said they were not aware of any current maintenance issues.
Most recently there has been attention on the college for how it spends money. In February an article by Lauren Hernández entitled, “CCSF faces layoffs of 50 full-time faculty members” appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle. In the article Chancellor David Martin is quoted as saying that City College has “deficit spending of more than $65 million since 2017-18.” Deficit spending, in regular words, means an organization is spending more money than they are receiving.
The District had 26 full time equivalent (FTE) librarians before the pandemic that was reduced to 17 during the shutdown. The college plans on cutting two more positions, representing a 42 percent reduction from pre-pandemic employment levels.
So budgetary cutbacks may seem like a reason also for extended closures, but others disagree. In the same article by Hernández, a labor union representing college employees said there was “no budgetary need” to lay off more workers. This is supported by the fact that in 2020 the federal government provided approximately $7 million to City College via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act under section 18004(a)(1). No less than 50% was to be required for use to give as direct aid to students.
One thing is for sure though. A closed library seriously affects students’ ability to study. Charles Murray works full time and is a student in the Emergency Medical Technician program at City College. He said, “My day-to-day life doesn’t allow me to study effectively at home. So the library reopening is amazing because it gives me a place I can focus on the material.”
The newspaper reached out to the library, but none of the librarians wanted to go on record to explain what was happening. The library referred the newspaper to Cynthia Dewar, the Dean of the Library for comment, but she did not respond to a request for an interview . The Dean’s office was contacted, and a secretary who did not want to be named referred the paper to the library as well. For the past two years, a lack of transparency has kept students in the dark. As the library lights come back on, hopefully the rest of the semester will be brighter for students, staff and faculty.