A student goes to the library to study and is approached by one of its staff members. They are presented with a bag full of fun goodies, like a pin to put on their backpack. This is an opportunity for all students by wearing a mask at the library, or even just wearing it correctly.
The Christopher Center library has been looking for ways to solve a mask problem within the library since Nov. 2020. Associate Professor of Library Science, Rachel Muszkiewicz, and other faculty members started noticing a trend of no mask-wearing during the first semester and knew that they needed to come up with a plan to defeat this problem.
“We were noting that some people were not wearing masks in the library,” said Muszkiewicz. “We honestly think it’s because students feel more comfortable there.”
Part of this comfort might be because Muszkiewicz describes the library as a comfortable place one might go to besides work or home to get things done.
“We’re the ‘third place’,” Muszkiewicz said. “It’s not where you live, not where you work, it’s another place you go to that you do something specific. We know we are the ‘third place’ for a lot of students for studying and whatnot. Also, we know it’s hard. We know this sucks, but we have to do this.”
Valpo’s library is made for all students to feel comfortable and safe, especially in a time like this. The staff knew they wanted to keep that message going, but they needed to make sure that it was in the line with COVID-19 precautions. So, the staff came up with the idea of positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement.
“We [library staff] decided to come up with this initiative where if we spot you complying with policy, wearing your mask very diligently, we would give you a little bag of ‘nifty gifties’ as a thank you for wearing your mask in the library,” Muszkiewicz said.
The library and its staff are trying to make this transition of wearing masks as easy as possible.
“We love students in the library,” Muszkiewicz said. “It’s the heart blood of what we do. We know that we’re an important building for you guys.”
To learn more about the “Mask Up in the Library” program, check out the Christopher Center’s social media by following them from the library’s main webpage on library.valpo.edu or on their social media accounts, these accounts include Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.