After 18 months of pandemic closure, the UConn Library opened the doors to all campus libraries in August of 2021 and nobody was happier than the staff. Libraries have spent decades shifting resources to providing online access to collections and services to better serve our patrons, but we heard loud and clear from our community there is absolutely still a place for the physical library. The UConn Library fills so many roles within UConn – we have resources necessary for research, programs and services aimed to help learn and grow, spaces for work and study, and we provide a place where our community connects with one another. It is all of the pieces – online and in-person, that make the UConn Library whole.
With the opening of the doors, we were certainly not business as usual. We have fully embraced UConn’s aggressive and successful campaign to keep COVID-19 off campus. One of the biggest challenges we faced over the semester was the very real, very challenging, masking fatigue we all feel, and spending hours in the library made it even harder. We designated eating and drinking areas, and developed positive masking campaigns including the MASK ON Rewards program where there was free candy and a weekly drawing for free pizza if we caught you wearing a mask! We also added four sound-proof booths, which after lively and very creative naming voting by students, faculty, and staff, have been named Babbidge Booths. They are great spots that allow for phone calls, taking an online class, or just studying quietly without a mask on. These spaces have been so popular, we will be purchasing more for other campus libraries as well.
We also restarted programming both online and inside the building. We reopened our exhibit galleries and added a video component for two of our exhibits to extend our reach – Many Pieces Make a Whole by Deb Aldo, and Fables, Fiction, Pulp and Pens in honor of Richard H. Schimmelpfeng. We also hosted both in-person and online workshops, opened for 24/7 hours during finals, and got back into the business of dog therapy with the Paws to Relax program.
As the semester comes to a close, we are looking forward to a little down time and a chance to reset before the spring semester begins in January. Thanks to everyone who had a part in the reopening of our buildings and helping keep us safe all semester.