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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

Using the Library During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Fall 2020 Frequently Asked Questions

Availability of Services 

Public Health and Safety Guidelines 

Enhanced Hygiene and Cleaning Practices 

Availability of Services 

Is the library open? 

  • Simpson Library will be open the following hours: 

    • Monday – Thursday, 8am – 8pm
    • Friday, 8am – 5pm 
    • Saturday, CLOSED 
    • Sunday, 1pm – 8pm
  • Please note that the hours are subject to change. 
  • All services will be provided from the Main Service Desk. 
  • Special Collections and University Archives and the Digital Archiving Lab are open by appointment only, and also continue to offer remote services. Contact for an appointment or to request assistance. 


Can I get help from a reference librarian? 

  • Yes! Reference librarians offer live, remote help during the following times: 

    • Monday – Thursday, 9am – 6pm 
    • Friday, 9am – 5pm 
    • Sunday, 2pm - 7pm 
  • You can email a librarian at, call the reference line at 540-654-1148, text your questions to 540-657-3337, or use the chat service to talk with a librarian from your computer. You can also schedule a remote consultation with a reference librarian for help with research or citing sources. Find your subject librarian on this list and make an appointment, or email and we’ll forward your request to the appropriate person. 
  • We will also have staff at the service desk ready to help with brief questions. 


Will I be able to reserve a study room? 

  • Study rooms are closed until further notice and will not be available for reservation. 
  • Please note that a number of other empty classroom and meeting spaces across campus are now available for express scheduling in 25Live. You can reserve these spaces up to 14 days in advance for up to two hours at a time, and MMDC rules must be observed while in the space. To schedule a space, visit 25Live.


I need a space to attend my class online. May I use the library? 

  • You may! However, since study rooms are closed and we can’t assure complete privacy, we recommend the use of headphones, or a headset with a mic, to minimize the noise. Please also be sure to keep appropriate distance at all times between other library visitors. 
  • Please note that the third floor is still the quietest floor of the library. If you plan to speak during your online class, we recommend finding a place on the first or second floor. 


Can I use a public computer, printer, or scanner? 

  • The printers and copiers will still be available, and we will have two scanners for public use. Computers will still be available for use as well; however, in order to maintain safe social distance, we’ve reduced the number of public computers to about 25.  


Will I still be able to check out books? 

  • Absolutely! We will have staff at the desk during all open hours to help you check out books, and we also continue to offer our no-contact pickup service. Request your material using this form and our staff will retrieve the items for you. We’ll notify you as soon as your items are ready for pickup! 


How do I access my course materials on reserve? 

  • Our staff has been busy scanning as much of the course reserves as possible so we can deliver these materials electronically. Your professor may also have a Library Reading List in your course Canvas page where you can electronically access reserves. 
  • Physical reserves will be closed. Please contact Olivia Vander Bleek, Reserves Supervisor, or email with any questions.  


Can I request items through ILL? 

  • Interlibrary loan is operating normally. Contact Andrea Meckley, ILL Supervisor, or email with any questions. 


Can I still access the remote library services that were available last spring? 

  • Not only can you still access all the online resources and services from before, but the library has been working hard to expand what’s available with more resources and video tutorials. Check out our online guide for more information. 


I'm not affiliated with UMW but would like to use the library as a guest. Is the library open to me?

  • Beginning October 1, 2020, Simpson Library is open to visitors by appointment only. Please schedule an appointment using this form or by calling the library at 540-654-1059. Appointments are scheduled Monday through Friday during the library's operating hours. No weekend appointments are available for guest patrons.
  • All visitors must wear masks and observe all posted safety procedures.
  • Please check in to the main service desk when you arrive for your appointment. 
  • To promote social distancing, only one guest computer is available. There is a 30-minute limit on the guest computer and you will be logged off automatically once time expires. Each visitor will only be permitted one login per day.
  • Staff members are also maintaining distance, and therefore cannot provide research or technical assistance. 
  • Please bring your own headphones if you plan to use computer audio.
  • Please note that guest computer access is first come, first served. Making an appointment to visit Simpson Library does not guarantee computer access at a particular time.



Public Health and Safety Guidelines 

Do I have to wear a mask? 

  • Yes. UMW’s COVID-19 Face Coverings/Masks Policy requires wearing a face covering while inside a University facility or on any University property when in the presence of others. 


What does social distancing look like in the library? 

  • You’ll see that some tables and chairs are gone to encourage at least 6’ of space between visitors. 
  • Please observe all floor markers to help keep appropriate distance while waiting for desk service, water fountains, or printer use. 
  • A plexiglass barrier at the service desk helps keep all of us safe. 
  • Only one person is allowed in an elevator at a time. 


Can I bring food into the library? 

  • Food is prohibited in the library at this time. Beverages are allowed. 


Enhanced Hygiene and Cleaning Practices 

Will hand sanitizer be available? 

  • Definitely! All around the library, you’ll see new touchless dispensers for hand sanitizer. These are positioned in the highest traffic areas: near stairwells, doors, and public service points. 


What increased cleaning measures are in place? 

  • Housekeeping is doing additional disinfecting throughout the day at high touch points, but we all need to do our part to make sure the library stays clean!  
  • Disinfecting wipes are available throughout the library; please use them to wipe down your area before you leave. For keyboards and other electronics, wring out the wipe to remove excess liquid first, then wipe the equipment. 
    • Do not use the wipes on touch screens, please! Hand sanitizer is available for you to clean your hands after touching shared screens. 


Are circulating materials safe to handle? 

  • We are quarantining materials for 72 hours before returning them to circulation.