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Penfield Library Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Please be aware that the information on this guide is subject to change due to the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding COVID-19. Library staff will do its best to make sure the information on this guide is up-to-date.

This guide was Last Updated: Sep 18, 2020 2:37 PM

Changes that affect everyone

Here are the main differences from past semesters:

The library will have reduced hours.

Starting August 24, we will be open:

Monday – Thursday: 8:00am - 7:00pm
Friday: 8:00am - 4:30pm
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: 12:00pm - 7:00pm

The library building will close daily for cleaning.

Currently, those times are:

Monday – Thursday: 10:30am - 12:00pm, 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Friday: 10:30am - 12:00pm
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: 3:00pm - 4:15pm

These times may change in the future.

  • All users must leave the building during these times, including study carrel users.
  • You will still be able to pick up books during cleaning times.
  • You will be able to use the 24 Hour Room during the cleanings.
  • All virtual services (like reference) will be available during cleanings as well.

The 24 Hour Room will be open and has been expanded to include the Penfield computer lab.

Both black and white, and color printing are available in these spaces.

The Research Help Desk will have reduced hours.

Research help will be available:

Monday – Thursday: 11:00am - 7:00pm
Friday: 11:00am - 3:00pm

Please note that the Research Help Desk will be staffed virtually - we will be available via Zoom, chat, and email. The Research Help Desk will have a computer which can be used to connect with peer reference associates or librarians via Zoom.

Archives & Special Collections will be open by appointment only.

Visit the Archives & Special Collections website to schedule your visit.

We will be using a reservation system.

It would be best for you to book your reservation ahead of time, but you may also reserve a time on the fly, if space is available. You will need to book a reservation even if you have checked out a study carrel for the semester.

We will be using a reservation system purchased by CTS. We are awaiting more information about this, and will update this page when we have that information.

We will not be circulating physical items with short checkout periods.

This includes:

  • Laptops
  • Other equipment
  • Textbooks on course reserves

Please do not retrieve books and other items yourself.

In order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, we ask that you request items through our library catalog. Library personnel will retrieve these items for you, usually within 1 to 3 business days.

Expect limitations on Interlibrary Loan requests, and plan accordingly.  

All incoming materials are being quarantined for a week before being processed; this adds additional time to fulfill requests.

Many materials are available through Interlibrary Loan at no cost to the library (or you). However, any materials that would incur a cost may be cancelled due to budget constraints. 

The Maker Space will be closed. 3D printing will also not be available.

Certain computers have been disabled for in-person use to accommodate social distancing.

Group space is limited.

All group spaces have a capacity of 1 or 2 to allow for social distancing.

The Lake Effect Conference Room and Media Viewing & Conference Room are currently unavailable for reservations, but all other group spaces remain available on a first come, first served basis.

Masks must be worn in all group study rooms. Food is not allowed.

Furniture has been moved, removed, or taped off to allow for social distancing.

Food will not be allowed anywhere in the library.

This policy was created because eating involves the prolonged absence of a mask, thus increasing the risk of transmission.

Changes that affect faculty & staff

  • We will not be circulating physical items (like textbooks) this semester. Current research suggests that COVID-19 can live on books from 3-4 days, which makes the normal circulation time (3 hours) for reserves impractical.

  • If you require a physical textbook for your class, you may be interested in participating in our fall pilot program as an alternative.

    As a participant in the pilot, you can request that we digitize some material for your class, which will then be available to borrow online. However, access to the digital material will be extremely limited, and is not meant to replace the same level of access that our physical Course Reserves previously provided. Our hope is that it may be useful for a small number of students who are otherwise unable to obtain a physical text. We are still developing the procedures for this, and will update the library website with information as soon as possible.

  • We can provide access to ebooks and full-text articles (that are available through our databases) through Course Reserves. You can use this request form to have electronic materials added to Course Reserves.

  • Want to upload your own readings to Blackboard? The Blackboard support team has instructions on how to upload either a single file or multiple files.

  • Want to know the best way to include library resources in Blackboard? Check out our handy guide that explains how to embed different types of library resources in Blackboard.

  • As always, our librarians will do our best to meet your information needs. However, it might look a bit different this semester:

    • Due to the hiring freeze, we are short-staffed. In order to best manage our workload, we may recommend instructional materials such as library guides or videos, or suggest students sign up for workshops that would allow us to teach several sections at once. We're open to your suggestions as well!
    • Like other faculty members, librarians may choose not to offer face-to-face instruction this semester in order to minimize their risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • If you are considering classroom instruction with the Archives & Special Collections staff, or plan to use items from those collections, please contact to discuss logistics.

  • We will not be conducting instruction in the library classrooms; all instruction will take place either in your classroom, or remotely.

  • Instead of emailing your liaison librarian with purchase requests, please contact associate library director Lynne Rhys ( or complete our purchase request form.

  • Budget cuts necessitated the need for database cancellations. After examining usage and surveying faculty, we have decided to cancel the following databases:

    • AccessScience
    • Art Abstracts
    • Biography Reference Bank
    • Biological Abstracts
    • Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO)
    • JoVE
    • Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts
    • Naxos Music Streaming
    • Newsbank newspapers for NY state *
    • Oxford English Dictionary **
    • Oxford Art Online **
    • Oxford Music Online **
    • Readers Guide Retrospective

    * Databases with an asterisk are available through the New York State Library at no cost to residents of NY. [Apply for a NY State Library card]

    ** Databases with two asterisks are available through New York Public Library at no cost to residents of NY. [Apply for a NYPL card]

  • We are also likely to cancel our subscriptions to Sage Premier Journals and Westlaw Campus - however, these database subscriptions do not expire until 2021.

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