Mabee library adapts to new circumstances amid pandemic


Tall as a Book: Library Dean, Dr. Bearman stands proud. The Dean explained that it was quite a chore moving all the books to the basement.

Change has come to Washburn University, whether we like it or not. Classrooms and all buildings on campus reflect social distancing guidelines and other policies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This is also true for the Mabee Library, which has seen drastic changes take place over the past few months to get it prepared for students in this new learning environment.

When approaching the building, students and visitors will notice that the doors leading into the library now share similar aspects as other building’s entrances across campus. Large signs indicate which doors students should enter and leave through. Yet these are minor changes compared with what is inside.

Arrows indicate the ‘flow of traffic’ for students when they are walking through the library, a change that was seen as necessary by the library staff after a poll was sent out to students earlier this year. Also, standing in the entrance are computer kiosks where students are now required to sign in before they are allowed to walk through the rest of the library.

This is a requirement. The record from the sign-ins would help staff with gathering more accurate information if there was to be any positive test results and symptoms arise locally. To sign in, students will need to use their Washburn ID or know their ID number.
“I think all the changes are very cool, very new. They should help new students when they come into the library for the first time,” said Mikayla Kussatz, a junior in nursing. “I thought the signing-in process was helpful but also necessary. I think the measures the library has taken will help students feel safer.”

Those computers that are still available for students to use, have plastic screens over the monitors in an effort to keep them sanitary. There are cleaning kiosks placed in several locations and small tables with hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. All students need to sanitize their hands and keep the equipment sanitary by wiping down their desks and everything they have touched before they leave.

“We’re trying to maintain a space where students can come to conduct research and pursue their activities,” said Dr. Bearman, Dean of Mabee Library. “We know that students who study in the library perform better than those who study at home. They can get distracted there, so we work very hard to make sure the library can provide that service, even though it’s difficult to maintain that during the pandemic.”

Much of the furniture we remember using as hangouts and study spots has been removed. What remains is spread out to use as solo study space, so as to maintain social distancing protocol . The library was once able to boast being able to seat over five hundred students at any given time. But now that number has been reduced to just over a hundred.

The biggest change is in the basement of the library where many students once gathered. It used to be full of bookshelves, and study sessions. It has been been converted into a single, large classroom. This space is going to be used for nursing and leadership studies courses. These generally hold a larger amount of students per class when compared to other courses.

Printing and renting books is also different now. Students will need to notify library staff when they would like something to be picked up from the printer. There remains the online services provided by the library to rent books. Textbooks that are rented will be placed in a quarantined room for a period of four days after being returned to the library.

While these changes will take a lot of work to get adjusted to, they will hopefully not be permanent. Washburn students are encouraged to continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing so that everyone can get through the semester safely.

Edited by: Jason Morrison, Joelle Conway, Shelby Spradling