At a Nov. 30 Student Association (SA) Congress meeting, reports were made regarding the lack of mask-wearing inside the Glenn G. Bartle Library.

Various complaints have been made by faculty and other students regarding the lack of mask compliance while working in the library. On top of staff already approaching students and asking them to wear the masks, announcements are made regularly to remind students that wearing masks in the library is mandatory. The faculty is also taking into consideration possible disciplinary actions that could be put into place to help enforce better safety in Bartle Library.

Operating hours have been updated by library staff to be open 24/7 until the end of the semester, starting Dec. 6. As finals approach and classes are coming to an end, students will be flocking to Bartle Library. This has led to concerns of possible increased lack-of-mask reports among library staff.

Nancy Abashian, senior director of public services for libraries, discussed the mask situation and possible consequences as the semester wraps up.

“With the longer operating hours to meet the demand for study space, the situation is deteriorating,” Abashian wrote in an email. “The risk for those who rely on our spaces and services has increased significantly and with it, so does the risk to the library staff dedicated to serving them. Masking is the only visible reassurance we have that students take their responsibility seriously to keep their peers and our staff safe from harm. Masking is the only safeguard available to ensure that the services that students rely upon can remain open and operating.”

Abashian also spoke on behalf of Bartle Library regarding the continuous number of students who are not wearing their masks.

“The situation has become challenging enough that the Libraries are exploring disciplinary options similar to what the [Off Campus College Transport] instituted this fall after they shut down certain services due to mask noncompliance and other misbehavior,” Abashian wrote. “In the Libraries, these consequences may include shutting down highly valued spaces. For example, if anyone in the South Study Lounge or North Reading Room is found to be unmasked, we may ask that all occupants, including those who are masked, vacate the space in the interest of public safety. We may also consider limiting hours and set occupancy limits at our locations based on behavior around mask compliance. We sincerely hope that this disruption can be avoided through a cooperative effort to encourage compliance.”

Madeline Loiaconi, a junior double-majoring in English and cinema, spoke about her feelings on students not wearing their masks, as well as her opinion on the frequent announcement reminders in the library.

“I think that since it’s just the rule in this situation, people should just follow it,” Loiaconi said. “Especially since a lot of people here are not vaccinated. Because one thing about the library is that they do always announce it constantly, to wear your mask. And, I’m trying to study, and I can’t stand when they keep [doing] the announcements. I’d rather everyone just wear it, so they stop.”

Owen Holland, a senior in the MBA 4+1 program, said he understands the discomfort wearing a mask might bring, but complying with this rule is still important.

“So I definitely do understand and sympathize with the uncomfortable nature of wearing a mask while you are grinding on work,” Holland said. “Sometimes I see students who have their masks pulled down when they are sitting at the cubicles. You know, I sympathize with that, and I understand why they might want to do that, but I think particularly with the new variant, I think it’s important to keep masks on in the library. I like to hear the reminders reminding students because overall the mask-wearing could be a whole lot better.”