BC Libraries, COVID-19 Edition, Part III

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Since the BC libraries had to close in March, staff have been working tirelessly both onsite and remotely to continue to provide access to our resources and services to the BC community. With campus back open and classes beginning, we wanted to let you know the changes and updates throughout O’Neill that are keeping the library safe for both students and staff.

Entering & Exiting

By now you’ve received a number of emails about how COVID-19 has changed the way BC and the libraries operate. The biggest change we’ve made is in access. Current BC students, faculty, and staff have full access to the library during its hours of operation, but they cannot bring any food into the building with them. We are also one of the areas on campus where you will need to show your BC Daily COVID-19 Green Check to enter. Finally, to assist with contact tracing in case of an outbreak, there is a BC ID swipe station at the first and third floor entrances, and to let you know how hard or easy it may be to find a seat, screens in the entryways display current occupancy and capacity.

O'Neill Library level 1 service desk with "Exit Only" routing signage
O’Neill Library level one service desk.

Distanced Seating

graduate reading room on O'Neill level 4, with round red and yellow social distancing poster
Graduate Reading Room on O’Neill Library level 4.

If you’ve gone out during the past few months, you’ve definitely seen the kind of signage we’ve posted throughout O’Neill. Scattered throughout, these are gentle reminders to maintain appropriate distance, wear your mask, and be sure to wash your hands. We’ve also removed some furniture in accordance with state and federal guidelines on indoor occupancy limits. Many tables have one or two chairs, and every other desktop computer has been unplugged and made unusable to abide by social distancing guidelines.

Traffic Directions and Printing

Sign on O’Neill level 3 staff entrance, reading, “Entrance Closed: staff access to ONL 304 via the circulation desk, side entrance
Closed doorway to staff area on O’Neill level three.

Some doors are now closed, some are only one way, but we made sure to put up plenty of signs and directional markers so there’s no confusion on where to go. The biggest change for patrons will likely be to our printing area. This area gets a lot of traffic, so we’ve marked out line spacing and directional signs for the Walk-In Help Desk and printing, both to maintain social distance but also to ensure everyone knows where to go to find what they need.

Directional sign for printing and Walk-in Help Desk, O’Neill level 3 atrium, with an arrow pointing right for the Walk-in Help Desk and another arrow pointing left for public printing.
Directional sign for printing and Walk-in Help Desk, O’Neill level 3 atrium.

Checkouts & Returns

At the circulation desk, we’ve installed plexiglass barriers at each computer station. While our employees will be wearing masks and gloves, there’s also that extra level of protection that you’ve seen everywhere from grocery stores to CVS. We have also moved the ID card swipers around to the front, so patrons will be responsible for swiping their own BC IDs. Don’t worry, we swipe it wrong all the time too!

O’Neill Library level 3 circulation desk with plexiglass barriers.
O’Neill library Level 3 circulation desk with new clear barriers.

There are also two red carts between the counters. While normally you’d be handing your items directly to the person working, now you’ll be putting your items on one of these red carts for circulation desk staff. This extra step makes sure we’re not directly touching things you’ve touched, and vice versa.

Online & Print Materials

One of the biggest changes is in our collection and what can and cannot circulate. When the BC libraries were originally closed as the campus shut down, many publishers stepped up to ensure BC patrons would still have access to resources they needed. HathiTrust dramatically increased the number of e-books and digital materials available for checkout. When you search for an item on the library website, you’ll see a link for the “Full Text Available at HathiTrust,” which will bring you to the item and let you check it out. Watch this brief how-to video to clarify the process.

Library search results displaying “Full Text Available at Hathitrust links.

Library search results. Note “Full Text Available at HathiTrust” links.

(NOTE: Because of this expansion–and because of copyright restrictions–items that are now accessible in their e-book format from HathiTrust cannot be checked out from the library in print format.)

As you browse in the stacks, please check availability, so you don’t have the disappointment of attempting to check out a book that’s non-circulating. We’ve posted signs throughout the library with QR codes that will take you directly to library search.

Getting Help

The reference desk has also undergone some changes. Instead of staff seated at the desk, they’re now not restricted by location. You can reach them from anywhere on our 24/7 Chat service: library.bc.edu/chat. Soon, they also plan to be available for those in O’Neill via ASK! Live on a computer in the Lobby.  Watch for announcements.

It might seem like a lot, but don’t worry. O’Neill and the other BC libraries are here and ready to help you with all your studying and research needs!

Alison Beattie