In November, CDLC was approached by an academic member looking for a way to gather information on how other academic Access Service departments, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, had changed their policies and procedures for the Fall 2020 semester. CDLC worked with the member to create a brief survey and sent it out to 16 academic members. We included questions concerning facilities, staffing, quarantining material, and interacting with patrons. We received 12 responses.
The majority of these libraries have reduced hours, mainly eliminating evening and weekend hours, however, all buildings were open for campus community use. Three libraries mentioned that they are not employing student assistants this semester but most reported that they had a mix of professional, paraprofessional, and student assistants running the day-to-day operations.
Many libraries required the campus community to “swipe” in or have their ids checked prior to entering the library. Two libraries required students to plan for a physical visit by making reservations using some sort of reservation software and at least three mentioned campus-wide health screening protocols prior to using the library.
While many libraries discouraged “browsing”, four reported that they were allowing students to find material on their own in the stacks. However, most libraries have implemented policies to limit the length of time patrons are staying in the library. Two are now allowing students to place holds on in-house material that can be quickly checked out at the circulation desk and six will fill the requests and check the items out prior to the user’s visit in order to speed up the checkout process.
In regards to changes to their food policies, most libraries responded that in the past they had allowed food and drink in the library. Four libraries now have a strict “no food/no drink” policy, although the majority of libraries are still allowing covered drinks. One library allowing food consumption has found that students are taking longer to consume food as a “loop-hole” to avoid wearing a mask.
11 of the 12 respondents are not differentiating between material types in regards to quarantine which ranges from one to seven full days. Two libraries are quarantining material for two days or less, five libraries for three to four days, and five libraries are quarantining material between five to seven days. One library is lending DVDs in disposable paper sleeves then discarding the sleeves and disinfecting the DVDs upon return.
One member created laminated “Clean Me” cards that students can leave by their workstations in order to alert staff and other students that the station was used and but was ready to be disinfected. This member also added plastic keyboard covers to simplify the process. Another library created a self-serve hold shelf and has been shipping material to remote users which can be returned using a prepaid FedEx label. They also will scan and email materials for their international users and hope to extend hold requests to their Direct Access Program (DAP) community users. All of the libraries have adjusted their services to significantly limit staff interaction with library users and have implemented policies like mandatory mask use and reorganized spaces to allow for adequate social distancing to help keep their libraries clean and their communities safe.