Since the closure of the physical campus in mid-March due to COVID-19, the UWM Libraries have operated primarily online, providing uninterrupted access to an extensive array of services and resources for the UWM community. Following the announcement that UWM will reopen its three campuses this fall, the Libraries have been actively planning and preparing for our own reopening.
Planning has involved many hours of research, meetings, and discussions about expanding access to services and resources while providing a healthy and safe environment for students, faculty, and staff.
Our safety plan is based on directives and recommendations from the University, as well as emerging best practices from libraries nationwide. It is designed to fit the unique circumstances of each UWM campus, and provides flexibility for adjusting our progress as the public health situation demands.
The following describes our reopening plan in broad strokes. See our reopening roadmap for more information.
Building and Spaces
We plan to reopen libraries on all three campuses on Monday, August 24, although “reopen” will mean different things at different locations.
The UWM at Washington County and the UWM at Waukesha Libraries will reopen completely. We will discontinue the pickup service, and people will be able to access the physical collection for themselves.
Conversely, we will take a gradual, phased approach to reopening the Golda Meir Library on the main campus. At the start of the semester, we will reopen most public spaces within the Daniel M. Soref Learning Commons on the first floor, west wing. Group study rooms and library classrooms will remain closed.
Other areas of the building, including service desks beyond the main circulation desk, the general collection, library carrels, meeting rooms, and the Conference Center will also remain closed.
Library users should expect our spaces to have a very different look and feel when they return to campus. Spaces will be redesigned to support individual, quiet study over group work and collaboration. We will support social distancing through rearrangement and removal of furniture.
Users will be expected to follow the UWM policy regarding use of face masks and take personal responsibility for providing a safe and healthy environment for themselves and others. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols will be in place. Some amenities—such as the Grind Coffee Shop in the Golda Meir Library—will remain closed.
To give priority to University users, access will be limited to members of the UWM community. Students, faculty, and staff will be asked to swipe their Panther ID cards to enter the Learning Commons at the Golda Meir Library.
Building hours will be reduced and aligned with onsite classes. When finalized, they will be posted on our hours page.
Access to Physical Collections
As mentioned, the libraries at Washington County and Waukesha will reopen completely, and people will be able to access the physical collection by themselves.
At the Golda Meir Library, staff will retrieve items from the general collection, including the Curriculum Collection and the Music Library, after the items have been requested via Search@UW. Users will receive an email when the items are ready for checkout at the main circulation desk. Checkout of physical course reserves and equipment will also occur at this desk.
We are developing plans to reopen reading rooms in the American Geographical Society Library, Archives, and Special Collections by appointment. An announcement will be made when those are finalized. In the meantime, staff in those areas will continue to provide services virtually.
We are also developing plans to reopen the general collection and adjacent areas (e.g., study areas, library carrels, the Digital Humanities Lab, Media and Reserves, the Music Library, and the Curriculum Collection), although no date has been set.
Across all three libraries, students’ access to equipment and items placed on physical course reserves will be limited. Returned materials will be quarantined for four days before recirculating, which will make them less available than usual. We urge faculty and instructors to work with library staff to find electronic or open access alternatives for course reserve materials.
Borrowing from Other Libraries
The UWM Libraries have two main ways for students, faculty, and staff to borrow materials from other libraries. Resource Sharing provides access to materials from other UW libraries, and Interlibrary Loan (ILL) provides access to resources worldwide.
We have resumed fulfilling ILL and UW System Resource Sharing requests for books and other physical items not currently available in the UWM Libraries. Availability of these services depends on operations at other libraries and delivery services.
Across the UWM Libraries, many services will continue to operate primarily or even exclusively online throughout the fall. For example, we will continue to provide robust online reference, research consultation, and library-related course instruction.
Library staff continue to plan and prepare for expanded access to services and collections in order to serve thousands of users, onsite and remotely. In all of our planning, the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and library employees is a top priority.
We would be glad to hear from you at any time. Please contact Steve Burnham (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will route your questions to the appropriate staff member.