UTM opens safe study spaces for students on campus for in-person classes

Friday, September 11, 2020 - 8:57am
Sharon Aschaiek

Students who need to be physically present at U of T Mississauga will have access to safe and quiet study spaces between in-person classes.

In line with public health and U of T safety guidelines, UTM has adapted both library operations and its study areas to provide students with a place where they can feel secure and focus on their studies.

The main floor of the library, which re-opened on Sept. 8, is available Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 pm. and Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The main floor features about 50 physically distanced individual study spaces. Every other computer workstation has been wrapped in plastic to ensure users sit far enough apart from each other. Those looking to access the space or use one of the three printers must make a reservation.

The library’s second, third and fourth floors, which contain the stack collection, carrels and study/meeting rooms, are currently closed to ensure the safety of the community and to provide continued access to the more than 2.5 million digital copies of the library’s print books via the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service. Students, faculty and staff can borrow those electronic resources, access physical books not available digitally through contactless pickup and get research help from library reference staff either on site or online.

The library has taken several other steps to ensure a safe environment. As required elsewhere on campus, wearing a mask is a must. Users are provided with a hand wipes at the entrance they can use at their workstation. Signs, stanchions and floor decals have been added to ensure traffic flows smoothly to prevent crowding. New hand sanitizer stations have been placed by elevators and washroom doors. Washrooms are being cleaned more thoroughly and frequently.

“I feel confident about the safety of the library,” says chief librarian Shelley Hawrychuk. Months ago she formed a five-person library restart team to prepare to safely serve users in person. She also serves with other UTM administrative leaders on UTM’s operational readiness team, which has helped identify and address safety risks.

“My team and I have spent an inordinate amount of time figuring this out and implementing strategies, and we are constantly revisiting them,” adds Hawrychuk, who runs the library with a team of 45, including 16 librarians.

There are also designated study spaces outside the library. Some unused classrooms have been converted into spaces for quiet and safe study. Students or faculty who are on campus and require quiet study space immediately before, after or between in-person on-campus classes can access the following monitored, designated classrooms:

  • DV 2074 (undergraduate)
  • CCT 1140 (undergraduate)
  • IB 335 -- IMI professional masters students

Capacity limits are in place, users will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and must sign-in, and masking and physical distancing protocols must be followed.

“The study rooms will be monitored and cleaned, ensuring student safety and compliance to being used as quiet study spaces for students while on campus for in-person classes,” says Tammy Cook, executive director of facility management & planning. “UTM will assess the need for this type of space and, if required, we can add a few more rooms as needed.”