The University Library is a staple on Kent State’s main campus. With the coronavirus pandemic still leering over our heads, some places are still closed. However, the library will be reopening for the fall semester, but it will look different.
The library has been functioning strictly online since face-to-face classes were canceled on March 10. These online services have helped the library remain available to students.
“When classes transitioned from in-person to online, University Libraries continued their support of Kent State students and faculty through virtual means,” Cynthia Williams, director of marketing, communications and PR for University Libraries, said. “As always, our numerous digital resources were readily available, anytime of the day or night.”
Measures are being taken to ensure the safety of returning students, employees, faculty and staff. These measures include rigorous cleaning everyday from the custodial staff, quarantining books that have an unknown origin — such as books that have been turned into the overnight dropbox — and having only one person come in and do daily tasks, like receiving and sorting mail.
“University Libraries’ staff and faculty are continuing to work from home, with only essential workers entering the building on a need-to basis,” Williams said. “We conduct meetings and consultations through virtual means, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, email and phone calls.”
In preparation to physically reopen for the fall semester, University Libraries appointed a Reopening Committee, consisting of faculty and staff members, to develop a plan of action for each service point and the public areas of the building.
“This committee’s priority is to maintain the safety of our constituents and employees while continuing to deliver exceptional service,” Williams said.
Students can also expect to see employees wearing masks, as well as signs, floor decals and other reminders of the Flashes Safe Seven principles throughout the library.
The fourth floor of the library is a popular place for students to study and it was usually pretty full of students at any given time before the pandemic forced the university to close.
“Trying to create a post-pandemic environment on the fourth floor is going to be difficult,” Ken Burhanna, dean of the library, said. “We are going to have to remove excess furniture, mediascapes will only have one chair per pod, booth seating is one person per booth and the writing commons will be completely remote from now on.”
The fourth floor will have signage and seating arrangements detailing how to be safe through social distancing, wearing masks and the other principles included in the Flashes Safe Seven.
The University Library will no longer be open 24 hours a day. Sunday through Thursday, the building will close at midnight, and reopen at 8 a.m. the next day. Security is being scaled back as well.
“We are introducing our student employees as our security this semester,” Burhanna said. “This will be new for everyone, but I have faith in them, as they are smart and versatile.”
Although student employees are allowed to return in the fall, pay and the library’s budget will be reduced dramatically, as the pandemic jeopardized the library’s yearly budget by almost half.
“We have to make budget-cuts and practice fewer and reduced hours,” Burhanna said.
University Library student employees will start to hear about their jobs by the end of July.
Beginning July 6, the library will offer curbside service for those who have requested physical books prior and during the stay-at-home order. Borrowers will fill out an online form to check out the books and schedule a time to retrieve them from library personnel at a drive-thru station in the rear of the building. Borrowers can stay in their cars to receive their items. Library personnel will be wearing protective face coverings during any interactions. Visit www.library.kent.edu/curbside for more details about this service.
Any students who checked out materials before the cancellation of classes have their due date extended until August 31, 2020.
Contact Ciana White at [email protected]