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Students reminisce on studying in the library before COVID-19


The book stacks in the Charles V. Park library are blocked off with caution tape Oct. 12.

Sealed off with caution tape, the book stacks of the Charles V. Park Library are inaccessible to students.

The library is still open to students, but students must follow safety guidelines due to COVID-19. All students must be masked and socially distanced. Desks and tables are intermittently blocked off as to ensure distancing. All book shelves are blocked off and unavailable to students. 

Chicago sophomore Princess Collins opted to live at home this semester. She hasn't been to the library since last year, but she fondly recalled studying in the library with friends.

"Last year the library's atmosphere was very welcoming," Collins said . "It was quiet and comfortable being able to engage with friends while also studying."

Howell junior Ashley Elby, who lives off-campus, echoed Collins' sentiments.

"It (the library) was a great atmosphere," Elby said. "The place you didn't realize you needed to study at until you did." 

Now, Elby said the atmosphere has shifted.

"I felt it was weird to not be able to access the shelves," Elby said.  "And I felt it was weird they had all of the desks closed off."

Chesterfiel sophomore Victoria Myers shared similar feelings on the experience of studying in the library during the pandemic.

"To me it seems like the library seems more like a sterile environment," Myers said. "I go there to do my work and leave, but last year I would be able to stay there and relax after my work."

Myers said that the overall environment in the library seems less welcoming than it was in the past.

In September, a guide on "How to Study at the Park Library While Physically Distancing" was put out by Kathy Irwin, the Dean of Libraries. 

The main suggestion given in this guide is that students plan to study alone. It also details the available study places for students, and how many people can sit in a space.

Even with the Governor's orders ending, Irwin said that procedures on accessing the physical collections are not changing.

"The Governor's executive orders did not provide guidance about library collections," Irwin said. "We are following guidance from national library organizations."

Students can still access books through contactless pick-up. For more information on contactless pick-up, go to this website.

The library is following guidance  from the Online Computer Library Center and their REALM (REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums) Project.