Students and faculty take advantage of campus libraries reopening

Some said the indoor studying spaces helped them feel more productive and hopeful about an eventual return to campus.

USC extended Leavey Library’s hours on April 1, allowing students to book an on-campus, indoor study space through an online reservation portal. Capacity is limited, and face masks and social distancing are required.

Reservations are open for Leavey Library’s study spaces and Doheny Memorial Library’s archival collections. Students can make a reservation online through the MyUSC portal, and must show their USC identification and wear a mask to be in the library. Campus entry also requires Trojan Check.

Leavey’s new hours are 8 a.m. to 2.p.m. and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Students can make reservations for either the first or second block, while the hour break between is used to clean for coronavirus sanitation reasons, according to Dean of USC Libraries Catherine Quinlan.

Quinlan told Annenberg Media that library staff adjusted the furniture layout of Leavey to accommodate social distancing. So far, she said they have not asked any students to leave the library for breaking COVID-19 protocols.

“Students have been remarkably compliant. I think they’re as happy as we are just to be back outside of their bedrooms,” said Quinlan.

The libraries began phased reopening on March 15th and were among the first indoor spaces on campus to allow students to return in person.

“[The libraries] are a hub for everybody. A social hub, a creative hub, an intellectual hub,” said Quinlan. “It’s just a place of community and a place of gathering, and I think people have really missed that. So for me, it was really important to move as quickly as we could to reopen.”

Quinlan said she expects the hours of Doheny Memorial Library to expand on April 19 and that smaller libraries on and around the University Park and Health Sciences campuses will also begin reopening soon.

She noted that many of the libraries underwent or are still undergoing major refurbishment since the last time students were inside. From repairing a leaky roof at Doheny to a major renovation of the Science and Engineering Library, Quinlan said she looks forward to students enjoying some of the updated facilities as campus continues to reopen.

Julia Castaneda, a sophomore at Marshall School of Business, told Annenberg Media that returning to the libraries was a welcome change of pace.

“I was going crazy staying in my apartment every single day,” said Castaneda. “It got to the point where I could no longer focus, so when the school emailed me that the Leavey Library was opening, it was my literal savior.”

Castaneda said she felt much more productive studying outside her apartment and plans on going back to Leavey.

Quinlan said she looks forward to a return to the days when the libraries were full of students, faculty and staff.

“Doheny and Leavey are usually bustling places,” Quinlan said. “It’s just so weird to walk up the stairs of Doheny and you sort of hear your feet echo.”

In the meantime, she encourages students to email her directly or contact USC Libraries through their website to ask questions or suggest which library services students would like to see reopened soon.