Campus life during pandemic: Library gets a little more quiet

Campus looks pretty much the same. But a lot has changed at UWM amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the university requires students, faculty and staff to wear masks while indoors. Tables and workstations are spaced out in all buildings. On nearly every floor, Panther paw prints mark proper social distancing guidelines, each sticker at least six feet apart from the others.

The library is no different. While the library has limited access to only the first floor, students can still utilize the library’s quiet atmosphere and resources, including Wi-Fi, monitors, printing facilities and single-person study rooms.

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the UWM Libraries on all three campuses continue to provide critical services to students and faculty, whether they’re working on-site or online,” said Michael Doylen, director of UWM Libraries. 

Many resources like textbooks and journals are available for students, faculty and staff on the UWM Library’s website. The website also allows librarians to field questions with the Ask a Librarian” feature.  Librarian help provided online has surged almost 30% from last fall. 

At the Golda Meir Library, librarians can retrieve books and other items for the community to check out on request. Students, faculty and staff can also make appointments to visit collections that contain valuable resources for research, such as the archives, Special Collections and American Geographical Society Library. 

The library is also a valuable resource for students with limited access to the internet, especially when most meetings and classes are now at least partly online. Graduate student Fabio Duarte said that since the Wi-Fi at his apartment is spotty, he sometimes visits the library to complete his classwork. It’s especially quiet, he said, now that there are fewer people.

“There’s more silence, and people are abiding by social distancing,” Duarte said. “It makes it easier to work. The downsides are that I used to enjoy a coffee (at the library Grind) and I can’t do that anymore.”

The library Grind, like a few other Grind locations on campus, has closed this semester.

“They are necessary changes,” Duarte said. “It’s not ideal, but the university is doing its best.”

While some monitors and desktop areas are still available to students, some spaces have been closed to comply with social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The library also provides cleaning supplies for guests to sanitize their stations.

“(The library) set up social distancing with one person per table, but we’re spaced out pretty evenly,” said Nadia Vo, a commuter student. Vo is a freshman on UWM’s track team. On days where she needs to be on campus for track practice, she comes to the library for a few hours beforehand to study.

“I’m happy it’s open because I would’ve had nowhere else to go.”

For a guide to the library’s reopening status and services, visit the library’s reopening webpage.

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