While the nation is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and universities around the country have reopened to some degree.
The University of West Florida started classes on Aug. 24 with health and safety guidelines in place for faculty and students. These guidelines were based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
The UWF libraries have also reopened with these guidelines in place, as well as some additional procedures specific to library resources.
At Pace Library, as well as the Professional Studies and Emerald Coast Libraries, only UWF students, faculty, staff, and alumni are permitted to access the buildings.
Due to the limited access, students are required to bring their nautilus cards when visiting the libraries to confirm they are UWF affiliates. They do this at a card swipe desk at the entrance to the library.
In addition to nautilus cards, facemasks are a requirement to enter the library.
At the circulation desk, plexiglass has been installed and some of the computers on the first floor are available for use.
The Dean of Libraries, Stephanie Clark, explains how the library is adjusting for the safety of students. “We have removed furniture and rearranged furniture to allow for social distancing,” Stephanie Clark said. “Including turning off desktop computers so that students can maintain an appropriate distance from others.”
On top of installing plexiglass and alternated seating, the library has staggered the staff’s working schedules to free up office space for safe distancing.
The classroom on the first floor is closed because proper social distancing could not be maintained adequately.
The most striking thing you will notice on the first floor is that there is no one physically at the reference desk, however, the library has the desk virtually staffed.
There are two monitors there with open Google Meets sessions that are being monitored by reference staff.
“If you need more in-depth assistance, research consultations are available by appointment,” said Clark.
The second floor is spread out similarly to the first floor. Everything on the second floor is open except The Great Good Place to limit contact with large groups.
If you are going to use the elevator, remember that only two people are allowed on at a time per UWF’s guidelines.
The third and fourth floors are both closed to reduce the amount of space and touchpoints that would need to be cleaned.
If a student needs to access something from the book stacks on the third or fourth floor, you can request materials through the online catalog by using the “request it” link.
According to Clark, the material you requested should be processed within 3 business days and you will be notified when you can pick it up.
Pace Library’s SkyLab is open but the 3D printing lab is closed. Despite it being closed, students can still request items to be printed at [email protected].
The Archives are available through appointment, but not in person. To make an appointment, you can contact them by phone or email.
Social distancing is the main goal of the libraries’ changes, but maintaining a clean environment is also important in making sure students and faculty stay safe.
Cleaning supplies are readily available throughout the library and students are encouraged to use the products to keep their space clean.
“For materials and equipment that circulates, library staff are quarantining and cleaning those items before circulating them again,” said Clark.
Equipment and materials that are returned to the library are quarantined for 3 days approximately. It is then wiped down and returned to the shelves.
The library is waiving late fees for the foreseeable future since many students are taking all online courses and may take longer to turn items in.
Michelle Finley, the head of the circulation and an assistant librarian, is excited to get back to work and to help students in whatever way she can.
“The circulation department is so excited to open to students again!” Finley said. “We know there are quite a few changes due to COVID-19 protocols, but we are continually evaluating how we can serve the UWF population.”
For more information on the COVID-19 response and other things happening at the Pace Library, go to the UWF library’s essential information page.