COVID-19 has forced all facilities of Augustana University to change the way they operate. Ever since the Mikkelsen Library doors closed last spring, the library staff has been working with administration to provide ways for students to access the library safely.
“The library staff began working on how best to reopen the building shortly after closing, so by mid-April we were already making plans for how and when we would open again,” library director Ronelle Thompson said. “We identified the protocols to support additional cleaning, hand sanitizer dispensers, as well as staff cleaning regimens.”
Sticky notes are helping staff speed up the cleaning process. When students enter the library, they are asked to grab a sticky note to leave on their table when they are done to indicate that the table was recently used.
This allows staff to know the table needs to be cleaned and for students to find another table that has already been cleaned. Along with the facility, any materials that are used and returned to the library go through their own cleaning protocol.
“Library materials are being quarantined for three days when they are returned. For materials in media services such as laptops and tripods, the materials are cleaned after the quarantine period,” said Thompson.
What happens behind the scenes for requesting an interlibrary loan is also different this year.
“The main difference is the smaller number of libraries physically open that can supply books and articles,” said Becky Folkerts.
Folkerts is the interlibrary loan and circulation assistant for the library. She is in charge of sending and receiving books to and from libraries nationwide.
“Another factor that has slowed the interlibrary loan the past few months is U.S. mail delivery speed,” Folkerts said.
Interlibrary loan books are “quarantined” for four days, which Folkerts said also slows the process.
The interlibrary loan process is important for students, and although it is slower than in past years, it is still in operation.
Along with the policies and cleaning procedures that have been added, the library changed the hours that it’s open. The library closes earlier this year than in years past, at 10 p.m. rather than 12 a.m. Along with the change in hours, only Augustana students are allowed in the building after 6 p.m.
Although COVID-19 has changed the Mikkelsen Library for the foreseeable future, it is still in operation because of the actions that the library staff and administration took months ago to ensure that it can open this semester safely and effectively.