Easing of COVID-19 restrictions at Tisch Library allows for increased capacity, extended hours

Now that the majority of students are vaccinated against COVID-19, many of the restrictions for Tisch Library from the previous academic year have been lifted. Michelle Li / The Tufts Daily

Tisch Library introduced a series of changes at the beginning of the fall semester in response to the COVID-19 situation on campus. With vaccination rates high, the library no longer requires individual seat reservations and social distancing. Additionally, the library is open to vaccinated community members and has extended its operating hours. 

Dorothy Meaney, director of Tisch Library, and Erica Schattle, associate director of Tisch Library, said they are ecstatic that Tufts students are returning to Tisch Library. 

“I think it’s been an exciting year because we’ve been able to make a lot of positive changes,” Schattle said. “We care very deeply about the student experience.”

To make Tisch Library more accessible to students, the entire library building is now open until 3 a.m. Before the pandemic, only one room in the library was open that late

“We now have consistent hours, seven days a week with expanded hours, so we are now open from 7:45 in the morning,” Schattle said. “Librarians are once again available in different modalities, so if you want to … meet with a librarian, you can do that on Zoom, or you can do that in person.”

The removal of individual seat reservations and social distancing requirements has allowed many more students to study together in Tisch.

“Since we’re not required to physically distance … it is nice to share your table with the person you are studying with,” Schattle said

Rachel Madison, a senior, described the environment at Tisch Library last year as significantly less casual than it used to be. People were unable to regularly go study together or eat in the cafes as they did before the pandemic.

First-year Heidi Nguyen said she has enjoyed booking study rooms at Tisch to work collaboratively with friends.

According to Schattle, Tisch Library decreased its available seating from 1,200 seats to about 300 seats last year in response to COVID-19. The university’s indoor mask mandate still applies at Tisch, despite the easing of other requirements.

“We follow the guidelines of the university, so whatever Dr. Michael Jordan says we need to do, we need to do,” Meaney said. “There is not a requirement for social distancing, but there is definitely a requirement for masks in the building, which we will enforce.”

The library works alongside a committee to decide on appropriate policy changes and enforcement strategies.  

“We do have a COVID operations committee at the library that meets when it needs to, to look at policies and spaces and how we’re spreading the word about what changes have happened,” Schattle said

Schattle said that these changes have significantly increased the number of students in Tisch on a daily basis compared to last year.

“When I look at our building counts [and] our door counts … they look like [what] they looked like two years ago,” Schattle said. “They’re very different from what they were last year.” 

This year, Tisch has extended the duration for equipment-lending from the few hours permitted in past years to either one day or one week, according to Schattle.

Due to the necessity of technology during the pandemic, Tisch recognized the need to expand aspects of its computer lending program. Meaney and Schattle said they hope this results in a positive change that can meet the needs of the community.

“We did both upgrade and increase the number of lending laptops … in response to ongoing demand,” Meaney said. “We’re working with TTS to think about that issue campus-wide.” 

Meaney and Shattle enjoy seeing students returning to all of Tufts’ libraries. 

“We’re really happy that people are finding their way back to the library spaces,” Meaney said. “Tisch Library is the main library, but we also have the Lilly Music Library in Granoff and the library at the SMFA. We’re all part of the same organization, and it’s really wonderful to see students back in all those spaces again.”


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