The Christopher Center Library is one of many important resources on Valpo’s campus, and despite new changes to meet pandemic procedures, remains open to students for a variety of services.
“So the library is your academic library, right?” Associate Professor of Library Science Rachael Muszkiewicz said. “It's got all the resources that we can provide, both in person and online. Right now during all this COVID, the library is still open a number of hours a week...During this time, it is mandatory to wear masks in the building. I know that it's a little tedious, and no one ever wants to hear the words ‘mask up’ again in our entire lives, but it is still policy within the library.”
Students and staff are still able to check out a variety of resources, including print books, games and DVDs. However, there are precautions in place now to prevent transmission of COVID from materials that have been touched by other people.
“Right now you can check out all the stuff still, but when they're returned they’re quarantined for five days and that is just as a precaution,” Muszkiewicz said.
That in mind, visitors can still browse the collections and use reference books, however they are asked to place them on blue carts at the end of aisles instead of back on shelves. These books are then also quarantined for the safety of the campus community.
Muszkiewicz notes that although there are now some barriers to the use of print books, the library has access to a number of online databases, as well as a “Summon” tool used to search many databases at once and a number of ebooks. Summon is the default search box when accessing the library’s website.
“We subscribe to a number of different databases. That's where you get your articles, your scholarly articles, your scholarly works,” Muszkiewicz said. “We also subscribe to a service called summon, which is a discovery tool. And basically I call it ‘Google for library stuff.’ That's our most complete search. So that searches like 90% of our databases, not 100% unfortunately, some of them don't play well with summon, but the majority of them. It searches all our in house books and all our ebooks.”
The library has held more programs in the past than it has with this year’s restrictions, however they still create displays, such as the recent “Banned Books” exhibit in the second floor lobby. This past spring, the finals de-stress events were an electronic guide rather than in-person activities, and the fall events will likely follow suit.
“We wanted to avoid events because we don't want people congregating,” Muszkiewicz said. “Also, I'm trying to make it a little more remote. I do the December de-stress events before finals, so typically those are in the library or as a physical thing. But in the spring, I did them all on an electronic guide. I'm going to do the same thing for the fall, and just hopefully have more stuff available online to help de-stress you guys, because Heaven knows we have a bunch of stress right now in our lives.”
However, Muszkiewicz notes that there may tentatively be options for socially distant de-stress events, a detail she is still carefully considering.
“There may potentially be some ways to do some in person stuff, too,” Muszkiewicz said. “I have to figure that out. Because I know we've had for several years, for December de-stress, we've had a group scream. And part of my mind is like, we do that outside anyway. Could we just easily be socially distancing and scream? Though, I'm still working on that.”
According to Muszkiewicz, perhaps the most important resource in the library is the staff. The in-person circulation staff is available to help give quick answers to quick questions and if a larger question involves a librarian they might pass you on to one.
“We want to definitely still say we are here for you as a resource. Please reach out to us if you have any questions, we can get in touch in any number of ways,” Muszkiewicz said.
Many of the librarians have online office hours for students to drop in and Muszkiewicz reminds students that no question is too small.
“We’re not going to be like, ‘oh, this kid with not knowing anything.’ We are actually trained to kind of get out what the real question is you're actually asking,” Muszkiewicz said. “So that's what I would say. Reach out to a librarian, if you’re having any questions at all.”