The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law library began preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a safe and accessible environment for law school students, faculty, and staff who need access to the library.
Some initial measures included removing seating and spacing the remaining seats 6-feet apart, limiting access to the library to the law school ʻohana and modifying its circulation desk so patrons and staff have minimal contact with each other.
“One of our challenges is reducing the number of people in the building to enforce social distancing recommendations,” said Vicki Szymczak, UH law library director. “At that first staff meeting, we identified duties that the faculty and staff can continue working on from home in order to minimize the number of people in the work area.”
The UH law library has disinfectant spray bottles and disposable heavy duty paper towels on stands throughout the library and study rooms, along with instructions for students to wipe down their “mental workout” space when they are done. They have incorporated pump soap with moisturizer in restrooms and fun memes that reinforce 20- to 30-second handwashing and encourage social distancing.
“We encourage the front-facing staff and students to wear gloves and masks,” said Szymczak. “Due to the shortage of hand sanitizer and disinfectants, we made our own using common household items such as bleach, alcohol, essential oils and a lot of aloe vera.”
Students have already been in the UH law library returning early from canceled spring break plans; or are evening law school students who have been released from work due to the pandemic.
“They have been very appreciative of our efforts and have been taking advantage of our disinfectants and hand sanitizers,” Szymczak said.
The UH law library has been proactive in obtaining temporary electronic access to law school casebooks and study aids, including online access to the 20th edition of the Uniform System of Citation. As students and faculty move into final exams and papers, the online study aids will be helpful and they will allow students more flexibility to learn from home.