During the pandemic, social distancing took precedence over studying. As a result, the USF Libraries experienced a harsh fall in attendance.
There were 19,121 study room bookings in the 2018-19 school year. For the first time since shutting down in March 2020, the USF Tampa campus Library has surpassed its pre-pandemic popularity.
The number of bookings for study rooms and total hours booked at the Tampa campus Library over the past few years are:
- 2021-22 Total Bookings: 10,251; Total hours booked: 31,221
- 2022-23 Total Bookings: 21,000; Total hours booked: 53,335
- 2023-24 Total Bookings: 11,730; Total hours booked: 30,174
There was a 70% increase in total study room hours booked in the 2022-23 school year compared to 2021-22, according to the Annual Reports and Unit Reviews.
Only halfway through the 2023-24 school year, there have been 11,730 total bookings and 30,174 total hours booked for the study rooms.
The library is projected to outpace the increase from the 2022-23 school year by summer, Carol Ann Borchert, senior associate dean for Library Services and Collections, said.
She said the increase in the number of study room bookings for this year will be “approximately double” the current amount by July.
Borchert attributes the return of students to the libraries with a need for social interaction.
“I think for a while everyone was willing to isolate and be at home and kind of be away from everybody, but I think that people are getting more comfortable, like kind of going back to normal,” Borchert said.
The library has approximately 1,200 to 1,400 people in the building every afternoon, according to David Rosa, who serves as operations, building and security manager.
USF library administration also introduced individual study rooms this spring semester due to the popularity of the group study rooms.
To check out a study room, students had to have a group ready to head in. This posed a problem for students who wanted to study by themselves, Borchert said, which led to the development of the individual rooms.
There have been 1,081 bookings and 1,959 total hours booked for the individual study rooms since the beginning of the spring semester alone.
Optimizing the limited library space is crucial so that students can continue to have access, according to Borchert.
“It’s just a better utilization of space,” Borchert said, referring to the individual study rooms. “Space is at a premium, as I’m sure you’ve seen.”