UC Berkeley Library updates spring reopening plans

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Sunny Shen/File
According to an update from the UC Berkeley Library, the library is currently in the second chapter in its five-step reopening plan. One study space will be made available for students when the library transitions to chapter 3 of the reopening plan.

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On Friday, the UC Berkeley Library announced an update on its available services that included preparations for the reopening of a study space possibly in the spring.

The library has been following a five-step reopening plan and is currently in chapter 2, offering a contactless pickup service called Oski Xpress, 24-hour research assistance from librarians and electronic access to millions of books, according to the update. When the library transitions to chapter 3, it will make one study space available for students.

“Currently we are envisioning Moffitt Library’s fourth and fifth floors as the first study spaces to open,” said Elizabeth Dupuis, the library’s senior associate university librarian, in an email. “Moffitt Library is sufficiently large for us to appropriately space people out, has an exterior entrance and an area for queueing, and will not affect our patrons’ access to HathiTrust’s emergency service, which provides temporary access to millions of digital books and is a critical resource for those working and learning remotely.”

The update noted that when this study space opens, UC Berkeley students will be required to make reservations, maintain social distancing and wear face masks while in the building, which means that they will not be allowed to eat or drink.

Factors that the library must take into consideration while transitioning include the COVID-19 tier in Berkeley, availability of disinfecting supplies and library staff, campus budget decisions and other “disruptions and surprises,” such as wildfires or power outages, according to Dupuis. The library will advance to a new chapter or return to a previous chapter based on these factors, among others.

“A phased approach allows the Library to support the university’s teaching and research mission even while so many of us are sheltering in place,” Dupuis said in the email. “Remember that most of the Library staff are also working remotely, and each chapter of our plan is contingent on public health guidelines, availability of personal protective equipment, campus cleaning capacity, and staff availability.”

Courtney Turkatte, a campus junior, said her biggest concern with the library reopening is the impact of air rate circulation on COVID-19 transmission, which is something people “don’t really think about.”

Turkatte added that she would “love” for libraries to reopen but is not opposed to online library services considering the pandemic.

According to Dupuis, the library has received requests from students eager to use a study space as soon as possible, and it is “disheartening” to library staff when they have to decline requests.

“This has been a tough time for us all,” Dupuis said in the email. “The Library continues to prioritize the needs of current UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff to support research productivity and academic success. We are being creative to redesign our services in new ways and appreciate all the kindness and support that has been expressed to us as we do our best to serve our great community.”

Contact Serene Chang at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @_serenechang .