Murray Library: First area of U of S main campus to reopen to student body

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The front entrance to the Murray Library building is captured on October 22, 2020. THE SHEAF / Wardah Anwar

The push and pull of helping students at the University of Saskatchewan succeed while keeping everyone safe has begun to balance out with the Murray Library partly reopening. 

As of Oct. 20, the ground floor of the library has reopened with some adjustments for operating a public space during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Study space is now available to students with prior registration Monday to Friday. The study spaces include 50 distanced seats, eight study rooms with a maximum of two students each and nine computer workstations. All seats available allow for a minimum of two-metres distance between library users. Students are required to wear a mask at all times within the library. 

Printing, direct access to the collections and all other floors and spaces in the library remain unavailable. The ground floor Starbucks is also closed for the time being.

Charlene Sorensen, acting dean of the U of S library, says study spaces are important to students.

“We know that some students do not have a great place to study at home and that they depend on library study space, and so we are really trying to support student success,” Sorensen said. 

Sorensen had been receiving inquiries about when this reopening might happen. She says everyone at the library wanted to ensure that it could be done safely and in correspondence with the library’s reopening plan. 

Sorensen was in close communication with the university’s Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT) throughout the planning of the reopening.

“It’s an encouraging first step to reopen library spaces to our students, even though it’s happening in a limited way,” Sorensen said. 

Sorensen is confident in all the regulations and protocols currently in place at the library. She highlights the work of all the library employees that helped to make this reopening happen. 

“They looked at every detail and we continue to be in close contact with each other in the library,” Sorensen said.

The library team and Sorensen will be monitoring the situation daily to see how well the protocols are working. They will make adjustments if necessary for the health and safety of the university community. 

“Everything we have in place is there to help students feel safe,” Sorensen said.

The ground floor opening of the Murray Library is only a start, says the library dean, and the team is considering the opening of the first floor of Murray Library for the future. 

“We just need to make sure that the traffic laws and all the safety protocols are working and [that] students are following the rules too,” Sorensen said.

Sorensen believes that the reopening will be beneficial for students because it provides them with a great place to study, and may provide them with a sense of normalcy.

“It could even be for students looking for a change of scenery, and maybe just the idea of studying in the library will feel more like normal times,” Sorensen said. “That’s how we would like to help: normal times, but wearing a mask.”

Beth Zentner

Photo: Wardah Anwar | News Editor