The LSU Library opened for book browsing over the summer, allowing for a limited number of students and faculty to browse the stacks each day.
Sigrid Kelsey, LSU Libraries Director of Communications and Publications, said the decision to reopen the library was prompted by the state moving into Phase 2 of COVID-19 regulations. She said prior to reopening, professors had asked library staff for access to the books.
“Especially for fields like the humanities, the library is like their labs,” Kelsey said. “The scientists need their labs to keep their work going, and many of our faculty need the library to keep their research going.”
Only the main LSU Library is open for browsing books. Hill Memorial Library, which houses Special Collections, is taking requests during the summer and has some services open. The Hill Memorial building itself is not open to the public. Kelsey said the staff is helping people and providing services via email.
“We have a lot of resources that are not online-- and of course thankfully we’re able to provide a lot of things by email and online-- but hundreds of thousands of books the professors use for their research and their teaching are sitting on the shelves,” Kelsey said.
Visitors wishing to book browse must reserve a time slot, Kelsey said. Reservations can be made online on the LSU Libraries homepage. Ten people are allowed in the building at a time and visitors are required to wear a mask. Kelsey said social distancing is required at all times.
“We’ve had cleaning going on this whole time, even when it was closed,” Kelsey said.
Any books that are removed from the shelves that could potentially be contaminated are left out for 72 hours before being reshelved, Kelsey said. She said these regulations and decontamination periods were recommended by literature on COVID-19 safety.
“The response from professors that have signed up for a time slot has been enthusiastic,” Kelsey said. “I anticipate more students will be signing up as the fall semester approaches.”
Kelsey said the library does not have a need right now to increase the number of time slots available, and has not needed to turn anyone away from making a reservation.
Prior to book browsing services, Kelsey said the LSU Library offered a book pick-up service which started in early June.
“People could reserve a book and then walk up and pick it up,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey said cleaning and sanitation measures were put in place when this service began. She said library staff installed tables with plastic shields called “sneeze guards” which had a slot to slide the books to visitors.
For reopening and sanitation measures in the fall, Kelsey said library staff is waiting to hear the recommendations from the university.
“I definitely anticipate a lot of safety measures being in place such as social distancing and masks, but we’ll just wait and see what exactly it will look like for us,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey said she doesn’t know what study spaces within the library will look like for students in the fall.
“We may not be able to provide everything that we have in the past, but we’ll do everything we can to make our books available,” Kelsey said.