Northwestern Libraries accommodate community, open resources to NU and Evanston

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Daily file photo by Colin Boyle.

Mudd Science and Engineering Library, one of the main libraries on NU’s Evanston campus, is open with capacity limitations for the summer.

Iris Swarthout, Reporter

This summer, Northwestern is lifting most library restrictions for all students, faculty and Evanston community members after a year of limited availability due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Weinberg junior Ilona Lukina said she went to the library almost every day during the academic year, despite some areas — such as the Stacks in Main Library — being closed. She said she expects to go four or five days a week this summer to study for her summer classes.

“During the school year, I loved to go to the libraries,” Lukina said. “I might use the libraries for research this summer if my supervisor asks me to learn more about the procedures we’re doing.”

Lukina’s use of the library space is an example of the increased resource availability for members of the NU community in a pandemic world. Assessment Librarian Gina Petersen said she is excited for the social aspect of NU’s libraries to return, especially after a year of isolation due to COVID-19.

Despite the reopening, Petersen noted the slight downtick in library usage that occurs over the summer, but said it is easy for NU’s libraries to accommodate individuals who enjoy studying privately and quietly.

“Sometimes, studying in a big empty reading room is what people want,” she said. “Sometimes people want to study alone near people, and we can only provide that if there are other people in the building.”

Ted Quiballo, the instructional technologies librarian at Mudd Science and Engineering Library, said resources such as the Video Production Studio will be open for reservations this summer.

Due to staffing changes and the aftermath of the pandemic, Quiballo said the MakerLab — used primarily by STEM students over the summer — will be closed over the next few months.

Regardless of Mudd’s reduced accessibility over the summer, the University is lifting COVID-19 protocols and the libraries are opening up to the broader NU and Evanston communities, Danielle Cotrone, Mudd Library’s operations coordinator, said.

“We have lifted all capacity restrictions and all access barriers,” Cotrone said. “Any public visitor that signs in at the welcome desk and receives a guest pass can enter the library.”

Cotrone said masks and social distancing are no longer required per University guidelines, and study carrels and enclosed desk spaces are also open.

Despite increasing accessibility to in-person resources, some remote services born in the pandemic will continue, Cotrone said. She said the University created a home textbook delivery service for remote community members, including faculty on sabbatical leave.

“People were so appreciative of that,” Cotrone said. “Anybody who is studying remotely is able to get materials directly.”

After University restrictions were first implemented over a year ago, Lukina said she is excited that the libraries are opening on a greater scale again.

“I might try and branch out and find a good new (study) space,” she said. “I’d like to explore all the different parts of the libraries that I haven’t seen before.”

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