By: Maggie Phillips
The Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University is officially open for the 2021 spring semester, providing vital resources for all CSU students and faculty. Open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the library is one of the few spots on campus offering in-person assistance during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Despite limited hours and reduced capacity, students can still access the first two floors of the library. To keep patrons safe, a contactless pickup option is available for those who do not wish to enter the building, while masks and physical distancing are required by those who do.
Assistant Director of Public Services at the library Ann Marie Smeraldi believes the COVID-19 measures practiced by the library this year are successful.
“Students, faculty and staff have been great. They arrive in masks, adhere to physical distancing, and comply with the safety precautions we have in place” said Smeraldi. “We have been able to keep our staff well and safe, which keeps the students using the library safe too.”
On the first floor of the library, students can use printers, scanners, and computers which are cleaned after every use. While study rooms are unavailable for group work, the group study rooms on this floor can be used for librarian meetings via zoom and are equipped with computers with lockdown browsers and Honorlock. Students can still arrange meetings with subject-specific librarians by setting up a virtual meeting here, or by leaving a question in the “Ask Us” tab of the library homepage.
Smeraldi emphasized the advantage library employees provide for students, including those offered virtually.
“Staff want to help students succeed and will go out of their way to get an answer or a solution to a problem.” She continued, “because staff talk with and get to know patrons, they are able to offer the best and most appropriate resources and services.”
The second floor of the Michael Schwartz Library has 40 individual study rooms that students can rent for the day, free. These rooms are useful for those who are on campus and need a private place to conduct online classes or for anyone looking for a quiet place to work. Each room is checked out to only one patron per day to reduce the risk of contamination.
The Textbook Center on the first floor of the library has textbooks available for some CSU classes with two-hour rental periods. Students can read textbooks in the library or scan the pages that they need. In addition, the library is actively growing its collection of e-books, whose usage has skyrocketed since the transition to online learning.
The library also takes part in OhioLink, a system of 117 interconnected libraries throughout the state of Ohio, giving students a much broader selection for books and textbooks. If a student searches for a book that is unavailable at the Michael Schwartz Library, it can be requested and shipped to CSU from another university in Ohio. If a book or article cannot be found through OhioLink, students may also find materials through InterLibrary Loan, which allows access to libraries throughout the United States and abroad.
As the library staff is working hard to meet all patrons’ needs during this challenging time, they encourage students to leave suggestions for ways in which the library can provide better support.
The Michael Schwartz Library is an integral component of the university. In non-pandemic times, the library fostered community growth by providing spaces for students to make new connections and collaborate with one another. Even amidst the pandemic, the library is useful for more than just housing books- the personalized help and information access it lends vastly contributes to student success in and outside the classroom.
Highlighting this sense of community it cultivates, Smeraldi believes this is one of the library’s most valuable features.
“We have a place for everyone, whether you need to hunker down in a silent study room during finals or your group (pre- or post-pandemic) needs to gather to work on a collaborative project, we have a space for that. It brings people together who may not be working together but shares a common goal–successfully completing college, earning a degree, establishing a career.”