NSights Blog

Libraries reopen their doors this month

After much planning and preparation, Libraries are ready for "Phase 2" of the campus' return

Ready or not, here we come! The University Libraries are planning for phase two of our COVID-19 plan. This means the Libraries (the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center,  DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library and Savitt Medical Library) can finally re-open their doors this month. The team at the Libraries have been working hard to prepare for the reopening - cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, programming door locks, readying spaces to quarantine returned books, making signs. Oh, so, so many signs. Stand here! Don’t go there! Keep your distance! Wear your mask! Wash your hands! It’s not what we are about, but it’s where we are.

I, personally, am feeling torn between worrying about being part of another spike in virus cases, the health of our faculty and staff, and wanting desperately to go back to how things were before. Where’s Joni Mitchell? I need a new verse of “Big Yellow Taxi” for 2020.

Despite not having the new verse, I will be so happy to welcome University users back to the Libraries; even if in a limited-access kind of way.  We must keep our faculty and staff safe, so we can welcome in users while providing the essential resources and services to those in need. You’ll see a whole lot of plexiglass, fewer computers available, restricted areas, book check-outs using lockers in the @One located on the first floor of the Knowledge Center, and those signs – please read the signs! Before you visit the Knowledge Center, DeLaMare or Savitt, please check our website for hours, opportunities for virtual support and more.

The Libraries will also be following University and Governor Sisolak’s guidelines regarding wearing masks/face coverings when on campus. Masks will be required to enter any of the Libraries buildings on campus.

It’s going to be a while before we can gather in groups inside the Knowledge Center, DeLaMare and Savitt, the way we did pre-COVID-19. Our popular Trivia Night event, put on by the Libraries Outreach Committee, will go virtual, we may have to skip the Edible Banned Books event, and how can you distantly interact with therapy dogs? The biggest impact, though, is in the way people collaborate. The Libraries are a hub for bringing our wide, diverse community of users together; students working on a group project, faculty on a department retreat, visitors touring the makerspace to see the great possibilities of laser cutting and 3-D printing, VR explorers developing 360-degree content in the @Reality Studio... We’re trying to figure out how to do and be all those things in a safe, remote way.

Staff, including me, have been working in the Knowledge Center, DeLaMare and Savitt since the campus closed in mid-March. Not every day, but when needed to do what needs to be done to fulfill our mission. Scanning articles and chapters needed for course reserves and document delivery, processing mail and returned books, providing students and faculty technology needed for their teaching, learning, and research, and creating virtual content to replace the physical. The Libraries has even implemented some remote checkout of books.

Staff have also been moving furniture and preparing for the return of Libraries staff to their work areas, cleaning, and figuring out where to put all those reopening signs so users know what to expect when they return to the Libraries. Most importantly, Libraries’ administrators, faculty and staff have been hard at work for the past several months planning for how to return to campus safely.

On days when I’ve been in the Knowledge Center working it’s been a bit quiet and lonely. I have a new appreciation of HVAC noises and the little creaks and groans that I’m sure all buildings have, but the Knowledge Center is not usually quiet enough to hear. Honestly, I think the hardest thing for me, when everyone comes back, is the lack of touch. I’m a hugger. A colleague who’s having a hard day, a friend I haven’t seen in a long time, and sometimes for no reason at all. So when you re-enter the Knowledge Center this summer and fall, if you see me wave at you through the plexiglass, I’m probably hugging you on the inside.

Maggie Ressel photo
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