From in-person to virtual to potential hybrid events, Roesch Library will do it part this semester to provide de-stressing events that follow COVID-19 protocols.
It’s March 2020. The lights flick on as you walk into Roesch library, and you see students laughing and snacking while they study.
Finals week is coming up. You’ll have pizza and midnight coffee to keep you awake for studying, get a massage, do yoga and interact with therapy animals to ease your stress. Or so you thought.
All those plans changed when COVID-19 hit the United States and the entire library became as silent as the sixth floor.
A year ago the pandemic made students evacuate campus, leaving the library empty and ceasing or digitizing all typical activities that help students prepare for success, including the finals week festivities at Roesch library. Since then students have been able to return to campus at a reduced capacity, and Roesch is offering new events both online and in person that coincide with CDC guidelines for COVID-19 safety.
Finals week will be coming back with a vengeance — although it may look slightly different. According to Student Success Librarian Prof. Zachary Lewis, the library staff will officially begin brainstorming ideas a week before finals; however, everyone has already begun thinking individually.
“The dean of the library is very emphatic that the library falls within safety guidelines,” Lewis said in an interview on March 12.
If there will be any in-person components to the finals week festivities, they will have to abide by COVID-19 safety protocols. For example, Lewis believes Roesch may offer socially distanced meditations and yoga classes while also posting links to de-stressing videos on the library blog like it did during the Spring 2020 semester’s finals week.
“It would be an outdoor event so if we did something, we would staff the event [and] ensure masks are being worn,” said Prof. Katy Kelly, coordinator of marketing and engagement. “Social distancing is being handled well and the event format would lend itself well to social distancing, too.”
Even with possible in-person aspects Lewis and Kelly agree finals week — and any other activities — will mainly be virtual. Finals festivities from the spring and fall semesters in 2020 will make a comeback including virtual zoo visits, coloring pages and LO-FI music. Like the previous two semesters, an easily accessible page will contain all the activity links.
Lewis also hopes June Madness will return in the summer. Similar to the nationally popular March Madness, June Madness is a bracket of books grouped by genre and given an area on campus created by Roesch Library. Students can predict the whole bracket for a chance to win bragging rights and vote weekly to help choose the winning book.
“I’m excited to see if we continue with June Madness, if it becomes a staple at the library,” Lewis said. “Face-to-face events are great, but at the same time, there are students who have a time deficit, so I think it’s exciting to have in our pocket this asynchronous event that allows students to engage with the library and engage with other students without necessarily having to commit a lot of their time or physical space.”
In the future Lewis hopes the library can have folks in the assigned areas promote the event and offer tangible prizes along with the bragging rights.
Kelly and Lewis are equally excited about future virtual events.
“Before the pandemic, none of us had offered online PATH-eligible events even though that was an option for us to do,” Kelly said. “The pandemic forced us to learn new technologies and different ways to present information, so I think that will continue and I’m looking forward to that.”
This academic year the library offered 12 PATH-eligible events, and according to Kelly, they awarded 12,000 PATH points, which is a substantial increase in event participation for the library.
Offering activities available to everyone is a top priority for Roesch, and the staff is always open to ideas and opinions from students. An official destination for suggestions on the library website is in the works. In the meantime, you can submit feedback at the end of virtual events and email suggestions to Kelly at email@example.com or the University Libraries Dean Prof. Kathleen Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Times may have changed when the pandemic hit the U.S., but Roesch has rolled with the punches by offering virtual options accessible to students on and off-campus. Finals week updates are coming soon so watch the library’s blog, check the website and follow @roeschlibrary on Instagram to learn all the details and join the fun. And don’t forget to come in while the library is open to say hey to the desk workers.