Archives & Special Collections:
This fall we will continue to welcome the WPI community to enjoy and study our unique historical archives, rare books, works of art, and records documenting WPI’s culture and history. Beginning in A Term, our commitment to social distancing will change access to the archives to by-appointment only. This will allow our team to prepare materials for your use and coordinate to ensure we have staff available to support your interests and needs. We would be glad to meet with you remotely before your visit to find out what you need to consult and to plan your work in the archives. Subject to staff constraints and other collection policies, we will continue to digitize materials from the archives for WPI students, faculty, and staff, to support your remote research and study.
We will continue to offer long library hours to support your need for a place to work and study. We will continue to open at 8 am on Monday through Friday, and at 11 am on both Saturday and Sunday. Beginning A Term, our open hours will end at 11 pm Sunday through Friday nights, and at 5 pm on Saturdays. These hours are based on data from previous years showing low use of the library after 11 pm Sun-Friday and after 5 pm on Saturday. They also reflect a commitment to ensuring the library is cleaned and aired thoroughly every night for the next day’s users. We anticipate restoring longer evening and Saturday hours in the future.
Computers, printers, & other technology:
We’ll be reducing the total number of workstations in the library’s public areas in order to support social distancing. We’ll retain all our high-end computers from the Multimedia Lab and relocate half of them to the Info Commons opposite the Library Café. We have studied data on last year’s student use of library computers, and we believe this reduction will actually be an improvement, creating more open desk space for students to work on laptops.
The ITS Service Desk will also continue their program of lending laptops for 3 hours at a time. Printers and scanners will remain available, with social distancing in high-use areas.
Due to the difficulty of sanitizing headphones between uses, we will not be lending headphones at the Information Desk. We will however continue to lend scientific calculators, and we will sanitize them between uses to protect you.
Due to the delays caused by the need to quarantine print course reserves between short-term uses, and recognizing that a significant number of registered students will be taking classes remotely and will be best served by digital course materials, we are temporarily suspending the library’s print course reserves program for textbooks.
The library will work with faculty to purchase or license an accessible digital version of the preferred print textbook when possible, subject to budget and other constraints. If no digital version can be acquired, the library will work with faculty to identify high-quality alternative licensed or open access digital resources. Students looking for digital course materials can find them in their Canvas course or are welcome to ask for help from our staff.
Our commitment to helping students de-stress will continue with virtual programs this year, shared through our social media and digital news. We look forward to bringing back a full program of cookies, crafts, visiting animals, and other relaxing activities when it’s safe to do so. Meanwhile, everyone in the WPI community can join our twice-weekly virtual mindfulness sessions (they’ve been continuing without interruption since last March!). Short, sweet, and always welcoming, they happen every Wednesday at 12:15pm and every Thursday at 2:15pm. The library’s Reflection Space on the 1st floor will be open, but we’ll remove some of the shared items (stress balls, pillows) that are normally in this space, to protect everyone’s health.
At the start of A Term, Gordon Library will be launching Digital WPI (digital.wpi.edu), a new platform for sharing student projects and research - from GPS posters, to IQPs, to MQPs, to graduate theses and dissertations. The new platform will make it easier than ever to find works by Project Center, advisor, author, and key themes. The new platform will also feature a complete digital collection of Charles Dickens’s novels in their original serial form; over 9000 historic images of WPI, and selected faculty research articles.
Eating & drinking policies:
Due to state and campus requirements that all library users (with exceptions as determined by WPI) must wear face masks continuously while in the library, the library’s usual food-friendly policies will be temporarily suspended. Library users will be asked to eat meals and substantial snacks (sandwiches, salads, home-cooked meals) outside the library. Additional outdoor seating in areas near the library will be available during A Term. The Library Café on the entrance level will be open to pick up grab-and-go meals ordered online. Hot and cold covered drinks will remain welcome in the main library (but please replace your mask!). Water fountains will operate only to fill cups or bottles – please bring your own!
Our instruction librarians are working remotely to support social distancing on campus. They are preparing high-quality instruction resources and experiences for your courses and can deliver instruction synchronously or asynchronously. If an in-person instruction experience is required, please contact us to discuss options to meet your instruction needs.
Interlibrary loan services (ILL) have resumed for print books, and are continuing for desktop delivery of digital articles, book chapters, and other items not owned or licensed by WPI. Delivery of print materials may be delayed by other libraries’ quarantine practices. We will notify you when your item is ready for you to pick up. Curbside delivery will also be available weekdays, if you prefer not to enter the library. If you’re unable to come to campus to pick up your items, please let us know when you submit your ILL requests, so that we can work with you to arrange an alternative delivery option.
Print books & journals:
Gordon Library is following data-driven standards for handling and quarantining printed materials to ensure your safety and the safety of our staff. Most printed books will be quarantined for 72 hours after they’ve been handled, checked out, or returned. This new procedure will add some delays to the return of materials to the stacks – records in our catalog will clearly state if the item is in quarantine, and we can let you know when it will be available again.
The library’s print book and journal collections on all four floors will be accessible if you want to retrieve materials yourself. What’s new is that we ask you to carefully place all print materials (including games and videos) that you’ve consulted, but don’t plan to borrow, on adjacent book carts or designated shelves after use, so that we can quarantine them to keep the next user safe.
If you’d rather not retrieve books or journals yourself, you can look up the item in our online catalog (WPI Library Search) and submit an online request for the item, and our staff will retrieve it for you, and send you an email when the item is ready. You will be able to pick it up at the front information desk, just inside the main entrance; or request our curbside service, and we will hand it to you outside the library’s main entrance. Requests will be done as quickly as staffing allows but may take up to 48 hours to fulfill. Curbside delivery will be available weekdays. If you’re unable to come to campus, please get in touch with us so that we can work with you to arrange an alternative delivery option.
Project Team Meetings (Faculty & Advisors):
The Library’s Gordon Conference Room will be available this fall for faculty and advisors who need to reserve a space for in-person project team meetings with students. Capacity with social distancing is 8. The room can be reserved by faculty or advisors to meet with their student teams for up to three hours.
Research and team consults:
Our research and project team support librarians are working remotely to align with social distancing guidelines and to support students who are attending classes remotely. All consultations can be easily scheduled online and will be conducted using Zoom. Virtual consultations can take place wherever you are; or, if you need a place to meet with us online, you can reserve a Phone Booth (1-person) or a Tech Suite (2 people, including a computer and large monitor). If an in-person consultation is required, please contact us to discuss options to meet your needs.
Restrooms and water fountains:
During this Phase of reopening, all library restrooms will be converted to gender-neutral single-person restrooms. There are at least 3 restrooms on each floor. Visitors are asked to be considerate of others by leaving the restroom clean and exiting as soon as you’re done, so the restroom is available for others. Hand dryers will not be available for use in the restrooms at this time.
Water dispensers throughout the building will remain available to fill your personal cups or bottles with filtered water. Drinking fountains will not be available during this Phase of reopening.
All visitors and staff in the library will practice social distancing and will be required to wear face-masks (with exceptions determined by WPI). Signage will help reinforce 6’ distances between visitors and library staff at service desks; arrows will direct travel in and out of the main doors; visitors will be encouraged to use the stairs to move between floors, taking advantage of new touch-free access to each floor from the stairway. Use of the elevator will be limited to one person at a time, to maintain good social distancing practices.
We are following Massachusetts Phase III guidelines for libraries and other common gathering spaces. We have reconfigured library study spaces to provide 6’ distancing between library users – a total of 190 study seats. To allow for quick in-and-out visits (to the service desks or Café on the main entrance level) and because we have a small number of staff working in the building, the total maximum building occupancy is 220. To help students know if there are study seats available, current occupancy will be counted and displayed at the entrance of the library and on our website. Where else can you study if the library is at capacity? In A Term we will be piloting a new feature on the interactive campus map that will guide you to study spaces all over the WPI campus.
To support social distancing guidelines, the maximum number of students in a Tech Suite will be two. We’ve revised key check-out procedures to minimize exchange of ID’s and we will clean key holders between uses. Tech Suites can be reserved for up to 3 hours at a time. A new 10-minute buffer time will be scheduled between reservations, to give exiting and entering student groups more time to wipe down surfaces to support everyone’s health. (WPI will stock rooms with wipes and cleaner.) Our two “phone booths” (small individual rooms on the 2nd floor) will both be available for interviews or solo study. The Express Tech Suites on the main floor will not be available at this time, so all Tech Suites must be reserved in advance.
In order to protect users of the shared computers, we will be lending keyboards and mice for the public computers in the Tech Suites at the information desk. We will clean them between uses before lending them again. You are always welcome to bring your own laptop if you’d rather not used shared technology.
Library services may change as campus, state, and national guidelines change. We’ll update you with important changes, sharing updates on the library website, on library Twitter and Instagram accounts, and through other regular campus communication channels when appropriate.
Access to the Gordon Library is limited at this time to individuals holding current WPI ID cards, based on WPI’s policy for visitors to campus. This means that walk-in access and direct borrowing for students and faculty at other Worcester-area universities and colleges and ARC institutions has been temporarily suspended. Please consult your institution’s library to learn how you can use interlibrary loan to borrow materials owned by the WPI Library.
Your ideas and questions:
Thank you for your patience and support as we work together to keep the Gordon Library a safe, welcoming, and healthy environment for everyone at WPI. Questions or ideas? Let us know! We want to hear your ideas for improving the library.
Sleep is important! It keeps our minds sharp, keeps us physically healthy, helps reduce stress and anxiety, and promotes emotional wellness. If you want to take a nap while you’re working in the library, we understand. But for now, to keep things clean we’re removing our popular couches and bean bags. If you haven’t tried our rocking chairs in the Reflection Space, you may find them a good substitute when you need to close your eyes and take a break.