The Research Commons and first floor lobby will be closed entirely effective Tuesday, March 31 according to the Office of Emergency Services. The reason for the closure is to avoid physical closeness amongst students, staff, and faculty to mitigate the virus spreading further.
The Research Commons offers laptop rentals, computer access, internet, study rooms and printers with a valid SF State ID.
Pyone Myatthwe is a junior Biochemistry major and utilizes the printers in the Research Commons as well as the quiet space to study away from home. Myatthwe has been using the Research Commons since the outbreak of the virus and said that the staff has done their part in making sure the monitors were wiped down and provided enough hand sanitizer.
“I find it conducive to study in my own house. I came here, but today is the last day,” Myatthwe said. “I think I’m gonna buy a printer because some of my exams require printing.”
The University has now provided loaner laptops that students can rent by contacting [email protected] or calling 415-338-1420. The Disabilities Programs and Resource Center will provide students with the tools needed during this time.
The Offices of Emergency Services has not responded to how students will print and use other resources for the rest of the semester.
The Research Commons remained open even after the university cancelled face-to-face classes and closed the library. Student Assistant Harrie Esguerra was not required to be there but volunteered to provide students with computer access.
“I feel people aren’t utilizing Comcast Spectrum, we’re offering free internet. As far as laptops, we’re still trying to give students access to the long term 30 day laptops for whatever they need,” Esguerra said.
Comcast is offering free WiFi for two months to the public and Xfinity hotspots. Other internet providers, such as T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, have responded similarly to the growing need for WiFi by those without it working remotely.
Librarian Catherine Powell was concerned before the announcement of the Research Commons closure due to the growing confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Bay Area.
The library tweeted on March 27 that they would remain open after Spring Break. Their hours of operation were scheduled to be Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice. The sudden decision to close the library entirely was tweeted on March 30 and provided a link for loaned laptops.
“I do not know why the decision came now, but I’m glad the University made the decision to completely close the library building”, Powell said.
The gate count tallies the amount of people entering the library and is usually 45,000 people per week but dropped to 7,000 people each week after the cancellation of classes, despite the county’s shelter in place order.
“I feel like part of the problem, and maybe that’s finally starting to shift, but there’s been this idea that younger people don’t get sick,” Powell said.
“Some of the telecommunication companies are providing free or low cost Wifi… rather than having to come in,” Powell said.“They should …provide that information and [the] university find a way to get them laptops rather than it being they come in to use computers or things in a gathering place.”
The Research Commons has focused on cleaning any used products coming in and out of the library as well as wiping down computers and keyboards but Powell was concerned for the students and cleaning staff that are at risk of being around a larger number of people.
“Even if there is some cleaning staff coming in, which I would have some concerns about, who would be doing that [cleaning]? And would that be frequently enough,” Powell said.
On a larger scale, even the American Library Association Executive Board suggested for libraries to close nationally until further notice to reduce the virus from spreading.
“To protect library workers and their communities from exposure to COVID-19 in these unprecedented times, we strongly recommend that academic, public, and school library leaders and their trustees and governing bodies evaluate closing libraries to the public and only reopening when guidance from public health officials indicates the risk from COVID-19 has significantly subsided,” ALA Board said.
Librarian staff have moved their key services online and offer to help with referencing any material through Zoom according to the library resources website.
“I do want to say, the library, faculty and staff, we’re really committed to providing the best services we possibly can and we’ll be doing that and encouraging students to come get access and go to our website,” Powell said.
For additional information about Library services click the link below.