By Chrissy Klenke, Earth Sciences, GIS and Maps Librarian
DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library – University of Nevada, Reno
Snapshot of the Mary B. Ansari Map Library and the Coronavirus
The year 2020 has proved interesting, trying, somewhat scary, life-changing, and unimaginable thus far. Our “normal” is not so normal anymore. This WAML piece is the experiences, reflections, and procedures created this year as the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library and Mary B. Ansari Map Library prepared and facilitated the library and services’ reopening during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
As the year 2020 rolled in, daily news reports of global issues, natural disasters, and a viral outbreak in China were displayed all over the mass media the first month. By the end of January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO), Director-General declared to the world; the novel coronavirus outbreak was now a “public health emergency of international concern.” (WHO, 2020).
In early February, the death toll in China surpassed that of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic. Viral pneumonia, known as the Coronavirus or COVID-19, quickly spread like wildfire worldwide. By the end of the month, cases skyrocketed. Early March 2020 was the turning point. Positive COVID cases in the U.S. were rising. Italy was the first country to lock down the entire country for all 60 million residents due to a massive rise in COVID-19 cases per day and the rising numbers throughout other European countries. Soon after, other countries followed suit, including the U.S.
On March 11, the WHO officially declared the outbreak a pandemic. That week was so unsettling as we watched metropolitan cities like Seattle, New York metro area, and the state of California see a rise in positive COVID-19 cases and mandate a lockdown. March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the U.S., leaving it up to the States to handle the national crisis.
Then, on March 17, Nevada’s Governor issued a statewide lockdown the following day at noon to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus for 30 days. All non-essential businesses that are generally recreational in nature and don’t provide groceries, health or financial support, or utilities had to close the doors to the public. This included places such as restaurants, bars, gyms, parks, recreational facilities, and department stores that closed down. Schools were also included in closing but transitioned to online learning. Everyone was encouraged to stay home, social distance, and wear face coverings when in public.
On Wednesday, March 18, following Nevada Governor’s issued lockdown, the University closed down. That was the last day on campus. All in-person classes were to immediately move to remote learning, and all departments and services had to switch to online access. These directives came the week before spring break. All students, staff, and faculty had to figure out all the logistics of this transition and work from home in 10 days. The change was more manageable for libraries to move to online because many of the resources are already online.
From mid-March through June, the DeLaMare (DLM) Library and the Mary B. Ansari Map Library closed its doors. Throughout those months, the library staff kept up to date with attending webinars, following the organization’s recommendations, and reading articles to figure out how to prepare for reopening in our new and changing environment when the time came. We were tasked by our library director to create reopening and procedural documentation, which included a DLM COVID Recovery Plan – a document on our low-high priority list of in house tasks, projects, and outreach; COVID awareness signage for the library; quarantining procedures for returned or used library materials; sanitizing schedules, twice a day (11 am & 4 pm) with a spreadsheet listing high traffic areas and surfaces to sanitize; and student COVID reference document that details our limited and somewhat new services, hours, etc.
Nevada’s Governor created a “roadmap to recovery” initiative to layout the States Reopening Directive and Guidance that originally included four phases. Phase 0, a complete lockdown through Phase 4, everything is back to normal. DeLaMare and the map library mirrored the phases and created a reopening document based on the four phases. These phases included:
Phase 0 (DeLaMare Library and Map Library are closed)
No patron access to the Map Library. Map Library is closed to all. Patrons looking for maps are directed towards the many online repositories. For virtual help with access to electronic maps, contact Map Librarian and Map Assistant.
Phase 1 (DeLaMare Library is open – Map Library Closed – Limited/assisted access)
No patron access to the Map Library. Patrons looking for maps are directed towards the many online repositories. Patrons can request maps to be pulled by library staff and placed on hold for pick up. Patrons must provide specific maps with a title or citation. Map Library Staff will pull requested maps with gloves on.
To support social distancing, patrons will stand on the X with tape where patrons must wait. Staff will bring maps to patrons for review. Every map pulled will be quarantined for three days after use.
Map Library Staff can conduct a research interview on Zoom, email, or phone.
Phase 2 (Map Library opened with Limited access)
Limited access to the Map Library collection at this time. Map users are highly encouraged to “Book a consultation” to access the Ansari B. Map Library materials. Patrons looking for maps are directed towards the many online repositories. Patrons can request maps to be pulled by library staff and placed on hold for pick up. Patrons must provide specific maps with a title or citation. The staff will pull maps. Maps will be placed in a map tube or wrapped in mylar for protection and transportation and available for pick up at the Circulation Desk.
Map Library Staff can conduct a research interview on Zoom, email, phone, or in-person at the research consultation desk with a social barrier to give safe consultations.
Phase 3 (DeLaMare Library and Mary B. Ansari Map Library Open)
Full access to Map Library. Patrons must wear facial coverings while in the library at all times. Any map pulled from drawers or returned to the library will be placed in quarantine for 3 days.
Phase 4 (DeLaMare Library and Mary B. Ansari Map Library Open)
Full access to Map Library. Hours, services, and access resume as usual.
When Map Library materials are returned, they are handled as if contaminated and placed in the map processing area. Two library carts are designated as quarantine carts. When maps are returned, add them to a cart and label it with that day’s date. Items on that cart will wait three days in quarantine. After quarantine has ended, remove the maps and spray the cart with disinfectant. Do not add new maps to a previous day’s cart to avoid re-exposing other quarantined maps.
Procedures to Open
On July 6, 2020, the library opened. Since DLM is a branch library, we were not expecting a lot of people in the library. Staff was staggered to come and open/work in the library. We went right to work to create the safest place possible for our patrons and ourselves. Here is a list of things we did:
- Added plastic barriers at service desk points.
- Added hand sanitizer and wipe stands on every floor.
- Took away chairs and computers, measured every place people could sit or stand in line to ensure there were 6 feet between each possible person. To mark these designated places, we vinyl cut paw prints in the library and placed them on the tables where people could sit and stand at service points. We even printed paw prints for the facilities for the entire University to mark where people could stand all across campus. The University of Nevada, Reno’s mascot is the Wolf Pack.
- Closed all of our group study areas to store chairs, cleaning supplies, machines, and quarantined returned library resources like lendable technology.
- Created all kinds of signage and placed them around the library. Placed hand sanitizer and wipe dispensers on every floor.
- Quarantined everything that arrived or was returned to the library.
- Created a schedule two times a day for staff to clean surfaces and library resources.
- After the library closed, staff sprayed surfaces and chairs with a light mist of diluted disinfectant, approved by the University. For this process, we used an industrial paint sprayer.
Since July, the library has been open to the public. We haven’t had any issues with overcrowding or people not following the rules, thankfully. We have found some patrons that do not wear their masks the correct way, over the mouth and nose. To deal with this, staff walk around at different times of the day to make sure patrons in the library are social distancing and wearing their face coverings. There have only been a few individuals we have had talk to about following the rules.
The fall semester began, and we continued our COVID-19 procedures and reduced our hours by two hours. All DeLaMare library staff work in the library unless they have tasks they can do at home. Librarians work on campus 2 – 3 days a week and the rest remotely. We provided zoom consultations for all available workday times and in person when on campus.
It is now November 2020. Since late September 2020, cases have been rising at an alarming rate. According to the Washoe County COVID Dashboard, there have been 25,469 total cases, 9,821 active cases, and 285 deaths. 1 in 60 people in Washoe County has the virus. In the last 14 days, 63 people have died from the virus. The University decided after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, all classes will be 100% online to finish the semester. Spring 2021 semester will have some classes in-person, hyflex, and entirely online. Students have the option to be in person or online. After eight months since the President declared a national emergency, work and life are still unsetting and unclear of the future. There is a vaccine on the horizon, but most people won’t get it until the Spring. Until then, face covering, social distancing, and sanitizing will continue to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
The resources we used for ideas and knowledge to create all the COVID-19 reopening procedures, documentation, and signage, include but are not limited to:
- University of Nevada, Reno Novel Coronavirus – COVID-19 – Health and Safety
- State of Nevada Health Response
- Washoe County, Nevada – Regional Information Center
- Reopening Archives,
Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Information Hub: A COVID-19 Research Project
- REALM Project – Testing and distributing science-based “Information on how long some commonly circulated library materials would need to be quarantined prior to being returned to public circulation” (OCLC REALM, 2020). This is in collaboration with OCLC and IMLS, partnering with Battelle.
- Center for Disease Control (CDC’s) Cleaning and Disinfecting your Facility (Community, Work & School)
- United States Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration – Guidance on Preparing for Workspace for COVID-19 – (there is also a Spanish version)
- Government Publishing Office (GOP)
-Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP): COVID-19 Toolkit and Guidance for managing federal depository library
collection safely during COVID-19
- “This guidance is intended to provide information to Federal Depository Coordinators and their staff on how to safely maintain services to users and safeguard collections during the COVID-19 pandemic. As libraries open to provide needed services to users, each Coordinator should ensure these best practices avoid spreading the virus or damaging library materials. (revised 7/22/2020)”
- ACRL – http://acrl.libguides.com/pandemic
- ALA – Planning for Reopening: A Checklist
- Johns Hopkins University of Medicine – Coronavirus Resource Center
World Health Organization (WHO). (2020, September 09). Listings of WHO’s response to COVID-19. Retrieved November 20, 2020, from https://www.who.int/news/item/29-06-2020-covidtimeline.
Sisolak, S. (2020, April 30). Nevada United Roadmap to Recovery. Retrieved November 20, 2020, from https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/NEVADA-UNITED-ROADMAP-TO-RECOVERY-1.pdf.