After months of renovations, the John L. Haar Library reopened on August 31.
Since opening along with the rest of City Centre in 1993, the library has served as the central hub of the university. Even if you never picked up a book or used any of the services offered, you've probably crossed through the second-floor pedway. In April 2020, a major renovation project began to better serve students and to maximize space for the library’s collections and services.
"Over the years we've seen a lot of use of our spaces and a need for more student space was a huge factor," says librarian Kymberly Ash.
Ash explains that the library conducted a series of workshops to determine the scope and community needs for the renovation. "The most common issues and concerns were noise, access to power outlets, more bookable study rooms and a larger variety of seating. We've tried to address those with the renovations."
A few of the differences you will notice:
The staircase is gone
No, not the photo-ready spiral staircase, but the one in Building 6 that went from the second to third floor next to the Technology Support Desk. Workers demolished the staircase and filled in the opening on the third floor, which has created more space for tables and seating. Noise on that side of the third floor will also decrease since it can no longer travel up from the computer commons area and pedway below.
But don't worry — the third floor can be accessed via the library staircase in Building 7.
Seating on the third floor includes more power outlets than ever, and some tables even have task lights.
More seating and services
In addition to the extra space for tables and seating on the third floor, the second floor will now have more seating due to the removal of the Reference & Research Services desk. But if you need those services, you can find them at the all-new main access point for all library services — the Library Services Desk.
"Our intention with the removal of the Reference & Research Desk was to consolidate our service points into one place," says Ash. "Now students can ask all library-related questions in one place."
However, with the library reopening at a time when many students are studying online, the central Library Services Desk will be open for questions but students will also be directed to go online to get research and citation help.
"This decision was made to help keep everyone safe," adds Ash.
Speaking of services, the Writing and Learning Services (WLS) offices and tutor space have moved into the library. (But please note: All WLS services are currently only available online.)
Ash points out that though there is more quiet study space, seating has been spread out to encourage physical distancing. "We may not have more seats for the time being, but because of the renovations, we are able to offer more physically distanced study space than we could have before."
Returning to the campus library in the Fall? Here are some things you need to know
This semester, the library's website will be an important place for students, staff and faculty to find answers to their questions.
"We've been making changes and updating information on our website throughout our closure and are continuing to update it in preparation for the new term," says Ash. "Online access to information will be even more important than it has been in the past and we are ready to assist in finding, accessing and selecting high-quality information sources for our community."
5 steps to stay safe on campus
For students who have to be on campus, safety is our top priority.
Students will notice that all of the seating and computer stations have been spread apart to accommodate physical distancing requirements, and group study rooms are unavailable at this time.
Library staff recognized early on that textbook access would be an issue for the Fall 2020 term, so they've changed the process for textbook loans.
Students will be able to place a hold on a textbook (not available in the past) and borrow it for 24 hours. Following Government of Alberta guidelines, all books and other paper items will be quarantined for 72 hours after they are returned, and plastic items like CDs and DVDs will be quarantined for five days.
"We anticipate longer wait times for high-demand items like textbooks," says Ash. "We are monitoring use and will be purchasing more copies when needed. We're also purchasing online editions of textbooks when possible and are exploring other solutions to make textbooks more accessible."
Research supports are now online
All research supports and instructions have moved online. Students will still be able to book appointments with their subject librarians, but appointments will occur over the phone or through a virtual meeting.
Also, rather than making in-person appearances in classrooms, librarians will be available through videos or live online sessions.
And chat and texting services are still available.
Self-checkout app available
The MacEwan Library Checkout app (available to download on Google Play and the Apple App Store) is a new iteration of the self-checkout machines the library has had for years. Plans to implement the app have been in the works for a year, so being able to provide a contactless option to check out books has been extremely timely.
"You can check out books as you're browsing the bookshelves or right at our holds pickup shelf," says Ash. "No need to carry a stack of books with you to the desk when you can check them out and put them into your bag right away."
How does it work? Once the app has been downloaded, students sign in using the barcode on their ID card. To check out items, just scan the barcode of any physical item in the library's main collection using your phone's camera. Afterward, an email receipt, which includes the due dates, will be sent to you.
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