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Library Resources in the Time of COVID-19

Use this guide to learn how to access library resources online and get virtual support with your research during the COVID-19 pandemic closure.

Introduction to Fall 2020 Plans

Note: The following information is provided so that our users can learn more about the principles and decisions guiding our future phased re-opening of the building. A reminder that even though our building is closed, our research support services and collections are still accessible to students and faculty. Please use the other tabs on this guide for information about how to use the William H. Hannon Library while at home.

In spring 2020, the Dean of the Library, Kris Brancolini, commissioned a task force to draft recommendations for library access and services in the fall 2020 semester. The following is a summary of recommendations for three possible re-opening scenarios:

  • Option 1: Very limited staff in the library. Primarily online with distance support.
  • Option 2: Limited staff in the library. More in-person support for local students and faculty.
  • Option 3: Broader access to campus. Students living on campus in typical numbers.

Guidelines from the university and local agencies are continually in flux as details about the pandemic emerge, so the following information may occasionally change in order to adapt to new information.

Implications for Library Planning

The following issues, largely determined by external guidelines, will impact library services and hours. Due to uncertainty around these questions, the library recommendations below are subject to change:

  • The availability of student employees (The library depends on student labor equivalent to 12 FTE to remain open for normal hours and in full operation.)
  • Who will enforce health protocol for users and to what extent
  • Whether non-LMU visitors (with approval) will be allowed on campus
  • Whether spaces in the library will be utilized for classroom use
  • Whether the library will need to remain open for specific hours due to external factors (like classroom use), uses of library spaces by other units, or ITS staff 
  • The extent to which county guidelines may restrict library access and/or services in support of public health and safety

Guiding Principles

(The following section is based on work already completed by Harvard University Libraries).


It is important to note that many different kinds of activities occur in our physical space:

  • borrowing of books, DVDs, periodicals, technology, and other research materials
  • consultations with librarians supporting research, information literacy, and discovery
  • use of archives, rare books, and special collections in a secure reading room
  • storage, maintenance, and access to special collections in a secure location
  • use of computers, printers, and specialized technologies, including those that support students with disabilities, for information access and production
  • access to spaces for individual study and group work
  • receipt, processing, and distribution of new acquisitions
  • digital imaging of tangible collections using specialized equipment
  • course instruction utilizing classrooms with specialized technology 


The development of this plan is based on the following guiding principles:

  • The health and safety of both students and library staff is our highest priority.
  • We will attempt to make the WHH Library as accessible to our students as possible within the confines of university guidelines, local regulations, and best practices in libraries.
  • Access to the building, hours of operation, and availability of in-person services will be driven by the size of the student and faculty population on campus or with access to the campus in combination with the availability of our staff and student workforce.
  • Online access to digital collections, information resources, and research assistance will be maintained to the fullest extent possible.
  • We will be able to clearly communicate our policies to our users.
  • We acknowledge that we are facing considerable uncertainty.

Phased Library Re-Opening Recommendations

Option 1: Very limited staff in the library. Primarily online with distance support.

This option assumes the library would remain closed to LMU students, faculty, and staff, and access to campus is fairly limited.


  • Building Hours: Not open
  • For Checkouts: No access to physical materials
  • Access to Library Spaces: None
  • Access to Library Materials: All access would be provided though digital means where possible, including scanned materials, interlibrary loan, and course reserves. Users would be strongly encouraged to only utilize electronic resources.
  • Access to Research Support and Instruction: All reference consultations, research support, and information literacy instruction would be mediated through digital modes, including Zoom, virtual chat, email, and phone.


It is worth noting that even if the building is closed to the public and the LMU campus community, the following tasks still require on-site access to the building by library staff so that we can provide essential services to LMU students, faculty, and staff.

  • Document delivery and interlibrary loan scanning for individual needs through ILLiad
  • Reserves scanning for faculty to post materials in Brightspace courses
  • Digitizing media (where possible) to post in Brightspace for courses
  • Mailing books requested from library catalog to patrons
  • Mail retrieval from the Distribution Center, including book purchases
  • Processing books that have been ordered
  • Cataloging ordered books so they can circulate to patrons
  • Processing invoices and payments (some vendors still only utilize paper invoicing)
  • Library return bin retrievals and check-in after 72 hour quarantine
  • Processing and managing quarantined materials
  • Shelving returned and recently ordered books
  • Processing Archives and Special Collections recently donated collections
  • Digitizing Archives and Special Collections requests for researchers or classes
  • Maintenance of library technology and settings to keep remote database access and other library services functioning properly


If the building is closed to the public and the LMU campus community, the following essential services can still be provided to LMU students, faculty, and staff without on-site access to the library:

  • Research support via online chat, staffed approximately 8 hours per weekday
  • Research support via virtual appointments in Zoom
  • Library instruction (synchronous or asynchronous options)
  • Virtual programming (orientations, events, etc.)
  • Coordination with and ordering from library database and e-book vendors
  • Coordination with faculty regarding course materials, library instruction, and other needs
  • Email and phone support for most public service functions

Option 2: Limited staff in the library. More in-person support for local students and faculty.

This option would be possible if county and university guidelines allow the library to operate in a limited capacity interacting with LMU users. This might involve appointments or pick-up services only, within short library hours. This option requires access to campus being granted for students, staff, and faculty to visit the library.


In addition to the above section services, this option would require: 

  • Building Hours: Circulation and/or other library staff would work regularly scheduled shifts, covering hours such as (examples): 
    • Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
    • Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 1-5pm
    • Monday-Friday 10am-6pm
    • Implication: Library hours open to students and staff would be limited within these time frames.
  • For checkouts: Pickup services only
    • Book/other checkouts pickup could be arranged on an appointment basis, with LMU students, staff, or faculty arranging for a pickup and requesting books (or equipment, media) in advance. At the designated time, staff could ask for OneCard to be presented at the glass doors, and bring out items in a bag for the user. 
  • For access to library spaces: Appointment services only
    • If users are permitted to come inside the building, access could be limited to Level 1, and users could be assigned to a workspace or computer. Appointments would be made 24 hours in advance.
    • Plexiglass would be installed at service points. 
    • Restricted access to only Level 1 would prevent browsing in the stacks and keep users more reliably tracked for the duration of their appointment time.
    • Computers could be assigned to track which equipment needs cleaning. 
    • Specialized computers on Level 2 could be relocated to Level 1.
    • Library services would be specific (signups for computer use or pickup of materials, etc.) and time-limited (2-3 hour time slots).
    • Archives and Special Collections researcher appointments would be available as permitted by county and university guidelines and library staff availability.
    • Note: Additional library staff (2-3 at any time) would be required for enforcement of appointment times, and a limited number of users would be allowed in the building for tracking.

Option 3: Broader access to campus. Students living on campus in typical numbers.

This option would be possible if county guidelines allow for more normal use of the library, although with masking and possibly occupancy limitations. This option assumes there is a significant proportion of students living on campus or coming to campus daily, and that student employees can work at library desks and in other library departments. 


  • Building Hours: Library hours would be expanded to accommodate in-person class times, and more desks in the library would be open for drop in help. 
    • Proposed library hours: Monday-Thursday, 8am-midnight; Friday 8am-8pm; Saturday and Sunday 11am-8pm
    • Information and Archives and Special Collections Desks would have shorter hours. Proposed hours: Monday-Friday 9am-4pm
  • Access to Common Areas: Library could be used as study space by LMU students, faculty, and staff; subject to social distancing guidelines.
    • Individual study carrels would be marked off for social distancing
    • Tables would be individual use only
    • Lounge seating would be marked off for social distancing
  • Access to Book Stacks: Library book stacks would be available for browsing. Books picked up after use would be quarantined for 72 hours.
    • Newspapers will be suspended in print, online subscriptions available. 
  • Access to Computers: Computer workstations (with 6 foot distancing) would be available on a drop-in basis to the LMU campus community and regularly cleaned throughout the day by Facilities staff.
  • Service Desks: Library service desks would provide support, within time and safety guidelines
    • Circulation Desk:
      • Book, equipment, and media checkouts. Some equipment, like headphones, not available due to sanitation issues.
      • Fines and patron registration as online transactions
      • Reserves checkouts limited or not available, with e-reserves scanning encouraged where possible.
    • Information Desk:
      • Technical (computer/printer) or research help with a 15 minute limit
      • Research consultations via Zoom
      • Research help chat available 24/7
    • Archives and Special Collections:
      • Up to two researchers at a time, appointments in advance
      • 1-2 visitors to the gallery space at one time
  • Access to Study Rooms: Group study rooms would become independent study spaces, with reservations in advance encouraged.
  • Library Events: Programming and events would remain online until county and university guidelines allow in-person events. 
  • Library Instruction and Workshops: Library instruction would be primarily online. Under limited circumstances it may be provided in-person, when the face-to-face mode of delivery best meets the needs of the class, the preferences of the instructor, availability of librarians, and availability of adequate classroom space and configuration.
    • Rhetorical Arts classes would be offered online only, but with three options:
      • Completely asynchronous (recording)
      • Partly asynchronous (recording), but with a live/synchronous 20-30 minute component on Zoom
      • All synchronous/live for 60 minutes on Zoom

Task Force Charge and Membership

Task Force Charge

ROW-TF is charged with recommending best-practices procedures and workflows to Management Council to manage COVID-19 safe practices for library staff providing public services and for the users inside the library. The Task Force will follow state and local guidelines while working with campus partners to ensure adherence to university policies. 

Topics to address include but are not limited to:

  • Safety procedures for staff interacting with the public at service desks and/or in public spaces
  • Safety procedures for maintaining clean surfaces at public service desks
  • Workflows for handling materials received from the public
  • Procedures for managing public spaces (e.g., seating, desks, computers, printers, copiers)
  • Expectations for user behavior inside the library
  • Communication to users of expected behaviors
  • Documentation and communication to all library staff of the above
  • Supply needs and procurement 
  • Enforcement procedures
  • Class visits / instruction


Task Force Membership

The task force was made up of representatives from the units most impacted by public services.

  • Jeff Gatten (Associate Dean, Chair)
  • Kathryn Ryan (Circulation)
  • Susan Archambault (Reference & Instruction)
  • Rose Mendoza (Collections Management)
  • Cynthia Becht (Archives & Special Collections)
  • Jill Cornelio (Administration Suite)
  • John Jackson (Communications)