The J. Murrey Atkins Library opened to students on Sept. 7, 2020 after shutting down in March due to the coronavirus. Since the opening of Atkins Library, the campus hub could be an indicator of how well students will adhere to the mask mandate now that the University has returned to some in-person instruction.
“Students are wearing masks when they enter the building, but are still learning that they need to wear them at all times while in Atkins Library as they must in classrooms and anywhere on campus. We ask that students eat and drink only while seated and reposition the mask as soon as possible,” said Dr. Anne Moore, Dean of the Library.
When a student logs onto the Atkins Library website, the first thing they will see is bright yellow signage that says “Masks are required at all times in Atkins Library” with a current occupancy count that updates every few minutes, though the library has no occupancy limit.
“We have sensors on the public doors that count as people enter and exit and the indicator displays the results. That count includes staff and will improve in accuracy as soon as we install sensors on the staff entrances,” explained Moore.
In order to adapt to the university and state policies of six feet of social distancing, the library has moved the furniture so that there will be one seat per table, regardless of size. This also discourages group work among students.
Moore added, “We have floors G-3 open for use as we are preparing to move 70% of the books and most of the journals to an offsite facility in November. Once the move has been completed, we will re-open the tower to provide additional seating.”
Study rooms are single-occupancy this semester and students are encouraged to wear their masks inside due to insufficient air flow turnover. They can be reserved in advance on the library website but are not required to check-in.
According to the Atkins Library reopening guide, “Security guards will be posted at library entrances to ensure that entering users adhere to all safety requirements. Security guards will also circulate through the building to enforce the policies; users who do not comply will be asked to leave the building for the rest of the day.”
The staff and security guards have been asked to distribute information sheets that contain a list of policies to abide by. If they are not upheld, the staff are obligated to ask the students to leave the library and the students will be reported to the Dean of Students for additional repercussions.
“We are doing our best to protect the health of students, faculty and staff,” says Dean Moore.