UPDATE: UMKC librarians confirm connection between recent library closure and UM System


Claire Powell, News Editor

A day after all UMKC libraries unexpectedly closed early, a group of employees confirm that the absence was caused by several members disfavor with the UM System’s recent approval of the Modernized Leave Program.

While the group has chosen to remain anonymous for the time being, staff members want to speak out against the verdicts made at the Wednesday meeting. 

“I would not be surprised if there were other things in the works, especially by other staff across the system,” one of the library council members said. 

Employees sent letters to their highest superiors expressing their qualms with the Sept. 7 vote affecting paid time off, but failed to receive response.

The council of librarians want to clarify that not all employee absences were in relation to the outcomes made by the Board of Curators. 

UMKC Director of Strategic Communicaiton Jill Jess confirmed the closing was due to staff shortages, but cannot verify what the reasoning behind the callouts were.

All UMKC libraries closed early Thursday after an unusually large number of library staffers called in sick.

Cindy Thompson, the dean of the libraries at UMKC, said they were short staffed.

“In order to keep the library safe we need to make sure we have enough people in here,” Thompson said. “I just heard from my staff [that people were] calling in sick.”

Many said they were surprised after being asked to leave the Miller-Nichols Library at 4 p.m. 

The signs in the Miller-Nichols library state that the hours of operations on Thursday are from 7:30 a.m. to midnight. But its hours on Google, which were updated a week ago, said the library closes at 4 p.m. on Thursdays. 

Despite the modified schedule, Jess said the Thursday closing was only temporary and should return back to normal.

“We were doing anatomy and we have a test next week,” medical student Yeanna Moon said.  “Someone just came up to us and said ‘I don’t know if you know but we’re closing early.’ So, now we’re relocating.”

The closure caused the relocation of events originally held at the library and were moved to the Atterbury Student Success Center. 

Other students said they weren’t put out by the unexpected shutdown.

“I don’t have a problem with being kicked out of the library, as I already did my work,” student Hajay Kumar said.

Students and staff were notified via email an hour after the closure.

The UM Systems Board of Curators voted Wednesday to cut the number of paid days off for the system’s more than 13,000 staff members. The board also decided to pay only 60% of an employee’s salary if they have a short-term disability. 

The University of Missouri and Mizzou Health Care were the only organizations to oppose the choice. Prior to the final decision, Mizzou employees protested a week before the meeting after the proposal was released. 

UMKC officials said there is no connection between the policy changes and Thursday’s shutdown.


EDIT: this post originally stated 1,300 UM employees will be affected by the UM Systems Board of Curators’ recent vote, but the correct information is 13,000 employees.