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At Your (Virtual and In-Person) Service: A Look Inside Falvey’s Successful Fall Reopening

By Shawn Proctor

When the campus closed in the spring, Falvey Memorial Library quickly adapted to virtual services and resources in order to meet the needs of students and faculty. And as the campus planned for reopening this fall, Falvey leadership and staff worked together to reimagine the Library so that it could offer in-person and virtual services and spaces while maintaining the campus community’s Caritas Commitment to safety.

“The Library is a fundamental educational resource, providing instruction, study space, services, tools, and materials that support the goals of teachers and learners. We are creating the safest possible physical environment for Library staff and patrons, and ensuring services and resources, both physical and virtual, are available,” says Luisa Cywinski, Director of Access Services.

The first floor of the Library has been dramatically changed. Speakers’ Corner has been reorganized as a socially distanced study space. Gone is the closely grouped furniture. In its place patrons will find carefully spaced queues for contactless pickup, printing, the UNIT TechZone, and the new virtual service desk. The latter substitutes for in-person interaction at the front deskvisitors with questions can converse with a staff member via an ongoing virtual connection.

“Many people seem hesitant when first approaching the service station, but quickly warm up to the experience,” says Abigail Cengel, Access and Collections Service Desk Coordinator. “This allows students to interact with Library staff ‘face-to-face’ in the safest possible way. Some visitors have commented that the setup is really neat!”

It enables staff to be located in their individual work areas, even while providing a friendly face for patrons.

Michael Sgier, Access and Collections Coordinator, adds, “This is a different Library environment–not quite as populous or lively–but we are still here to help support the academic endeavors of the community. We want to make sure that they feel safe when seeking help.”

Adaptable, Safe, and Human-Powered
Sgier and Cengel were integral to conceiving the new contactless pickup procedure. Villanova students, faculty, and staff can place holds on books, DVDs, and other circulating items from the Library’s online catalog. Library staff locate the items, place them in a bag on a shelf, and send an email when the requested items are ready for pickup. This avoids multiple people handling books, potentially transmitting the virus via surface contact. The process has required additional staff resources, but has proven a smooth operation over the first weeks of the semester.

“It’s a service that I’m very proud to have been a part of in crafting for the Library,” Sgier says. “Simply put, it takes a little longer to provide each of these Library services. A little longer to circulate materials, a little longer to respond to questions and problems, just because everything is dependent on humans to complete.”

For the same safety reasons, course reserves are not being circulated. Staff scan and send the digital pages to each patron upon request.

Patrons can also use the ILLiad and EZBorrow services to request electronic and physical copies of books, CDs, and DVDs from other library collections. They may also request e-books, but availability is not guaranteed. If the requested e-book is unavailable, the staff may be able to provide specific chapters instead.

When any physical item is returned to the Library, staff place it in quarantine. Gerald Dierkes, Access and Collections Coordinator, explained that this ensures no surface-to-surface transmission of the virus. “We researched the topic and, based on the findings, implemented a three-day quarantine,” he says.

Have you tried the new services at the Library? Like them? Love them? We want to hear about it! Email

Shawn Proctor Shawn Proctor is a Communication and Marketing Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.



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Last Modified: October 15, 2020

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