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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Socially distanced UF library guidelines maneuver student study plans

<p>To combat the spread of COVID-19 in public spaces, the UF Smathers libraries have reduced computers, tables, hours and capacities. </p>

To combat the spread of COVID-19 in public spaces, the UF Smathers libraries have reduced computers, tables, hours and capacities. 

Madison Weech said she preferred not to deal with other people and the noise when she worked in the UF Marston Library basement.

But new COVID-19 library practices have curbed those quiet opportunities. Masks, upturned tables and stickers encouraging social distancing have affected studying efficiency, said Sebastian Tirado-Vélez, a 19-year-old UF computer science sophomore.

With overlapping courses, he and Weech, a 19-year-old UF Spanish and health science sophomore, have studied together since freshman year.

Their studies last year in the basement for calculus and chemistry transferred over to studying at home in the summer and now the current library set-up as a “quaranteam.”

To combat the spread of COVID-19 in public spaces, the UF Smathers libraries have reduced computers, tables, hours and capacities. Materials such as books and DVD’s are placed in a 72-hour quarantine before being put back on the shelf.  

While understanding the precautions, Weech said she feels there is less structure in their plans since online learning has compounded her new study environment.

“At this point, it’s not just studying,” Weech said. “I gotta make the time to teach myself too.”

Weech and Tirado-Vélez could not return to the usual spots.

“Marston was convenient for me to get my caffeine fix and my meal,” he said about the downstairs Starbucks that has been closed for Fall 2020. Marston also closed group study rooms.

The study duo has moved to other nooks, including the Health Science Center Libraries, the Latin American and Caribbean Collection of Smathers Library and the study rooms in Hume Commons; here, they can find spots to work together or find quietude. 

However, one time, the duo worked without their masks and were served a notice about UF’s COVID-19 behavioral expectations.

It was only a courtesy warning from the area coordinator, telling that future violations will lead to conduct charges, Weech said.

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“We were let off easy, as the kids say,” Tirado-Vélez said.

At Hume, the rooms are a typical scramble to save seats. Its vicinity to Hume Hall makes it a popular place to be, Tirado-Vélez said. They often go for the lone closed-door room so they can use the board and enclosure to work on class lectures and homework.

Library West remains widely used with its still-open Starbucks despite differences in services offered in the past.

The biggest change is the shift from 24/7 to limited hours, said Kevin Yang, a 32-year-old UF information systems and operations management graduate master’s student. It operates from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, closed Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.   

His second year at UF, coming from Taiwan, Yang visited the library four times a week. He would take advantage of the dual-monitor computers on the third floor to have applications, assignments and personal browsing side by side.

He has been able to maintain his studying with the transition.

“I’m doing well with the new practices and because of the smaller number of students,” Yang said. “The staff are doing well with reminding students to be socially distanced and to wear their masks.”

To combat the spread of COVID-19 in public spaces, the UF Smathers libraries have reduced computers, tables, hours and capacities. 

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Manny Rea

Manny Rea is a journalism sophomore and the current health reporter for The Alligator. He worked as a copy editor in his freshman year before moving over to the Avenue in summer 2020. He likes to listen to dollar-bin records and read comics, and he is patiently waiting to go back to movies and concerts.


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