To help library patrons make informed decisions when choosing where they want to work in the Alkek Library, staff will be monitoring each floor of the building and posting a risk level using stoplight colors. Staff will be counting the total number of people on each floor, as well as the number of patrons who are not properly wearing masks, every hour and using this data to assign a risk level. Signs displaying each floor’s most current risk level and an explanation of what that means is located at each floor’s central entrance point. Risk levels for all seven floors can be found on a sign near the elevators on the main level (2nd floor) of the building.
The new system is part of the library’s Help Us, Help You! campaign which is designed to inform and solicit participation in the library’s efforts to keep its physical service points open and available for patrons on the San Marcos campus. Library visitors are asked to mask up, spread out, plan ahead, report concerns, and, when possible, use virtual resources and services. The Alkek Library is normally a very busy place, especially at the beginning of each semester and as we approach final exam periods, but due to COVID-19 conditions, the library cannot accommodate the usual number of visitors at this time. The library’s staff has removed furniture from the floor, increased cleaning and sanitization efforts and implemented a number of other strategies designed to keep library staff and patrons as safe as possible.
Under green conditions, the floors are determined to be calm with people able to successfully social distance and remain in compliance with mask requirements. When the number of people on a floor approaches higher levels or there are a number of people not in compliance with mask-wearing, the floor will move to the yellow caution level. If the number of patrons becomes concerning or there is a great deal of mask noncompliance on a floor, it will move to a red level and additional patrons will not be permitted to enter the floor. It should be noted, that individuals who are not wearing their masks because they are eating or drinking are counted as non-compliant, even though it is permissible to eat and drink in the building. Therefore we are not likely to have 100% compliance at any time. Red level responses may result in closure of a floor or service area until the situation has been resolved. Unfortunately, the library has already had to close group study rooms because occupancy levels and mask requirements were not being followed. Staffing levels and availability of proper sanitization supplies are also being monitored as part of this effort.
More information about the Help Us, Help You! campaign and the ways that the library is helping to keep patrons safe is available on the library’s website.
This article contributed by Debbie Pitts, University Libraries Marketing and Promotions Coordinator.