Research and Libraries
The campus policy has been and continues to be that research and creative activities should be conducted remotely as much as possible. Since many important activities cannot be entirely remote, the campus began gradually reopening laboratories, studios, field stations, libraries, and other facilities for research and creative activity in May 2020. This reopening has been successful from a health and safety viewpoint, with one positive COVID-19 test in a research lab since the reopening; this case was traced to a community contact and there was no known further exposure to the campus.
A notable update involving research is that some of our infrastructure and expertise has been repurposed to develop a campus capacity for COVID-19 testing. This is in the newly certified Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) Clinical Testing Center, which was inspected and certified on October 15, 2020.
An important aspect of this reopening is a Research and Library Operating Plan (RLOP) for each group to ensure levels of occupancy that permit the necessary social distancing, limited group sizes, document cleaning measures, etc. These are prepared by individual or small faculty groups, and reviewed by departments, deans, the Office of Research and Engagement, and, as needed, Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S). This approach extensively leveraged the Kuali Research IT system and staff expertise to provide data access to many existing systems for personnel information, space inventory and data analytics.
For the Spring 2021 semester, the Research and Libraries Working Group recommends the following:
- The testing programs for individuals approved in Research and Library Operating Plan (RLOP) should continue. All these individuals should follow campus requirements for testing and should not enter research spaces or buildings unless they are in compliance
- Work should continue to identify alternative assays or approaches to testing that can be implemented in the IALS Clinical Testing Center. This can further leverage our campus research infrastructure and expertise as well as approaches that are evolving at other institutions.
- The current process using RLOPs to manage the on-campus research activities should continue, with the goal of increasing occupancy and participation as much as possible within (EH&S) constraints.
- As campus occupancy increases, health and safety constraints may limit the occupancy in spaces for independent studies. Students who plan on a face-to-face research experience in the Spring Semester should register for the appropriate course sections as early as possible and check with faculty advisors as to the availability of space and other guidance. The Research & Libraries Working Group will update the guidance developed for the Fall 2020 Semester, and communicate with faculty and the Commonwealth Honors College administration.
Limited in-person and continued remote Library services for the campus community will be available during the Spring 2021 semester. The W.E.B. Du Bois, the Science & Engineering, and Wadsworth libraries will be opened on a reduced operating schedule, providing the following:
Additional On-site Services for Spring 2021
- Limited access, by appointment only, to physical spaces for student study in the Du Bois Library Learning Commons and Science & Engineering Library. The Wadsworth Library will be open.
Areas that will not be available for the Spring 2021 semester include:
- Faculty and Graduate Commons (Du Bois Library)
- Library Research Carrels (Du Bois Library and Science & Engineering Library)
- Science & Engineering Library will limit access to Level 2 only
- No in-person classroom activity will take place in any of the UMass Amherst Libraries
Continued On-site Services
- Contactless pickup for all physical library materials located onsite, including items requested from the 4C and via Interlibrary Loan
- Contactless payment and pickup for traditional, large format, and 3D printing
- Access to the Microforms Viewing Room, by appointment only
- Access to Special Collections and University Archives, by appointment only, for campus and community members
- Access to the Mass Aggie Seed Library, by appointment only, for the campus community
- Library stacks will remain closed to patrons; paging service to retrieve physical items will continue
- All partner academic service providers including the Writing Center, Learning Resources Center, Smart About Money (SAM), International Programs Office, and Assistive Technologies Center (ATC) will provide programming remotely for the Spring 2021 semester
Continued Remote Services
- Research and Teaching Support Services
- Interlibrary Loan and Digital Course Reserves/li>
- Scholarly Communication and Digital Scholarship Services
Precautionary protocols will be implemented to ensure the safety of our patrons and library employees working onsite. Partitions and sanitizing measures and a communication campaign to library patrons on health and safety procedures will be implemented to ensure that safe navigation through and use of physical library spaces can be maintained. Building occupancy and traffic flow will be monitored regularly to ensure that appropriate PPE use and physical distancing measures are maintained.