The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Returning to the Library
A City College student enters the Learning Resource Center as in person classes and resources Tuesday Feb. 22, 2022. Photo Credit: Abby Similien / [email protected]

The COVID-19 pandemic put a lot of campus services on hold. One of the few services that was still working throughout the pandemic was the City College library.

It was not only a challenge for students to adapt, but also for the librarians, who had to find new ways to effectively serve students with pandemic restrictions in place.

With the recent news that masks are no longer required for all Los Rios Community College District students as well as the return of more in-person classes, college is starting to return to normal. The library is also starting to become more open to students.

Carly Brotherton, City College’s lead library technician, said all the librarians were in a state of shock when news of the shutdown had reached the campus in spring 2020.

“It was crazy,” Brotherton said. “We were still here checking out Chromebooks for the whole summer. It was different to do so much stuff from home. But we were present on campus a lot even when everyone was at home and everything was closed.”

Despite the shutdown, Brotherton and her colleagues were still providing resources and textbooks to students. They were one of the only remaining functional parts of in-person on-campus activity.

“Our services were a little bit different than other services on campus,” Brotherton said. “We did a curbside checkout even though our building was closed. We offered a lot of services and had staff coming in to work the curbside hours. A lot of the work that we may have not been able to complete when we were fully operational with students, we were able to get some of those tasks done that maybe normally would not have been done regularly.”  

When discussing the COVID protocols, Brotherton said people were very compliant when it came to wearing their masks and how that made it a little easier for both librarians and teachers. 

“Before the restriction, students were required to wear masks,” she said. “Surprisingly, it was not an issue. I thought we were going to have more of an issue with people not wanting to wear a mask. But surprisingly a lot of people were very compliant.”

Joyce T. studies in the library on Tuesday Feb. 22, 2022, on the first day City College resumes in person classes and resources. Photo Credit: Abby Similien / [email protected] 

Brotherton added that the library has shortened its hours and is currently open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Before the pandemic, the previous hours of the library were the following: from Mondays to Thursdays 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., on Fridays 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Brotherton sees COVID as not a thing of the past. The library has increased limits as a result of the ongoing pandemic and continues to take extra precautions toward ensuring safety for students and staff.

“It is still in effect right now — but only students who meet City College’s vaccination requirements are allowed to enter the library,” she said. “We know that not all students have a student ID, but some should have a picture ID with them. Community members can not come in right now like they were able to in the past. There is a lot of extra cleaning and sanitizing on desks, tables and chairs.” 

For some students, the library has lost its original relevance and meaning. For Brotherton, things are more optimistic with more students returning to campus.

“I think now that it is an option to come back — more students are using the library in person,” she said. “I feel like for a lot of students, the library is the only place to study. There are many students that will come to the library for a study place and the resources in general.” 

Brotherton was hopeful about how she feels the library can still serve a great purpose for students, as it relates to using it as a place where they could take advantage of not just the resources available to them, but also helps librarians find more effective ways to help serve students based on their needs. 

“I think services have declined overall in the past few years,” she said. “The library has an opportunity to evolve. There is a huge expansion in digital media and e-books. I think it helped us actually evolve and find ways to get materials into the hands of students. I feel like there are people who still prefer that physical copy of a book rather than reading it on their computer or tablet. I think the pandemic has something to do with the decline of the library and how everything had to be switched over to online.”

Antonio Lopez, a librarian at City College, talked about the major differences he has seen from students before the pandemic as opposed to now in the library, such as how there are fewer students in the library compared to the amount of students that were in the library before the pandemic.

“The only difference is that there are fewer students on campus. I hope that in the fall we will have more students on campus,” Lopez said. 

He feels that since students have been allowed to come back to the library, their researching abilities have been improving and it has provided them numerous opportunities.

“I think that, currently, the access to the library is improving,” Lopez said. “I think that with access to the library and access to the library improving, students’ research opportunities are improving also. If we go back two years to 2020, I think at that time our options were limited and that affected our research options. Even before the pandemic, we had many online options. So when all classes went online, the library had permission to work online because we already had online research options.” 

When Lopez envisions what the future of the library will look like he is optimistic about more students using the library as a place where students can study, as well as learn new things.

“I think that as the campus opens up, students are going to be really happy to get back to the library,” he said. “The library will continue to be a part of the campus. There are a few places that are the most important places on campus and one of them is the library. The library is a very special place on every college campus. As more and more students continue to come back on campus, they are going to discover that the library is a welcoming place. We want students to feel comfortable, encouraged and supported.”

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