I hope this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and well! As I write, the spring semester is underway at UMass Amherst. When the operating posture returns to guarded, we look forward to offering limiting building occupancy and have established a seating reservation system to aid us in de-densifying those study spaces that will be available. All of these details will be added to the Libraries’ website, and any changes to our protocols will be posted there.
When we can welcome students into the library, they will find renovated and refreshed library spaces awaiting their use. This includes the Digital Media Lab, which was relocated and expanded to a purpose-built space adjacent to our Learning Commons. Here, students and faculty can engage in projects and research including dynamic technologies such as 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality technology, and video and audio media production, supported by a staff with expertise in each of these areas.
Of course, our support for students remaining off-campus as remote learners will continue at the same level as before, with librarians available through chat and email to assist with research, as well as identifying and obtaining resources, and ensuring that resources are made available virtually wherever possible, and in hard-copy when necessary through the USPS with Library Express.
Back by popular demand this semester are virtual undergraduate-focused game nights and other fun activities open to all. Students involved in last semester’s game nights requested more such events, citing them as relaxing and fun, and a place to make connections and friendships outside of their courses. It provides the Libraries a low-stakes opportunity to build students’ comfort and knowledge of Library people, resources, and services, too.
In addition to marking the return to campus, February is Black History Month and—fittingly—the birth month of W. E. B. Du Bois, the namesake of our Library tower, which houses the W. E. B. Du Bois Center. To highlight these two important celebrations, the Du Bois Center will release a mini-video each week that highlights the history and impact of the Center. The month will culminate with a celebration of Du Bois’ 153rd birthday on February 23, featuring a live panel discussion in honor of the centennial of The Brownies’ Book, followed by a question-and-answer session with Whitney Battle-Baptiste, PhD, the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Center. In addition, the Du Bois Center’s weekly “Breakfast with Du Bois” events continue to be held via Zoom each Monday at 9:30am. You can learn more about these events on the Du Bois Center events page, and you (and your student!) may register for them by emailing Adam Holmes. We’d love to have you join us for these events if you’re able to do so!
Dean of Libraries
There is no better time than now to support the UMass Amherst Libraries.