By Jennifer Hoyt

When Old Dominion University's fall semester begins Aug. 29, students will be able to visit Perry Library during regular hours.

Getting back to those normal operating hours wasn't easy. Over the summer, access was limited as staff instituted COVID-19 safety protocols.

Kathryn Boone, head of the Libraries' Learning Commons, said she never lost sleep leading up to the Libraries' physical reopening on July 6.

"No worries at all," Boone said. "When you have done a thorough job preparing and are willing and able to make adjustments as needed, you feel confident in your decisions."

Before Perry Library reopened, Boone and ODU branch library representatives collaborated with a large emergency planning group on campus to discuss operating hours, clear signage for patrons and employees, policy for face coverings and directions for 6 feet social distancing.

Everything had to be restructured to uphold Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on COVID-19.

"The fact that we opened during the summer semester, while all courses remained online, allowed us to ease back into providing services in person," Boone said.

Boone worked closely with Stuart Frazer, ODU Libraries interim librarian, throughout the initial planning stages.

Frazer shared the Libraries' reopening approach with other academic libraries across the state. He also focused on action plans across campus.

Frazer narrowed in on the layout of furniture and staff schedules to help provide necessary health and safety precautions.

Frazer was worried at first.

"Sleepless nights actually occurred like seven to 10 days prior to reopening," he said. "However, by the time of the July 4 weekend, things were in place, and there was less worry."

Frazer said running a library with a smaller staff due to social distancing requires a combination of "strategy, creativity and help from other groups on campus." "Members of ODU Police, Emergency Management and ITS played essential roles in helping Perry Library safely reopen," he said.

Boone has advice for those dealing with changes in the academic year.

"Plan, plan, plan and be ready to change your plans as situations evolve," she said.

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