CWRC Day in the Life

On November 18th, I went to the University of Guelph campus for some quiet study. I have only returned to campus one other time since COVID-19 hit in March. The protocol for entering the McLaughlin Library is vastly different than pre-COVID. Last semester, students would herd themselves into the library after class; everyone holding the door open for the next available hand to keep it ajar and maintain the flow. Students at Guelph, myself included, had no idea how much we took that for granted. Returning to campus now, the main doors are closed off with signs to take the side door, wear a mask, no food or drink, as well as a list of symptoms to self-examine for. I made my way to the side door, where there were tape lines six feet apart, in case there was a line-up. One at a time, you would scan your student card, enter the side door between double doors, and wait for the employee to wave you through. After passing the second door, the employee would greet you and ask if you knew the protocol (which was on the papers on the main door). After sanitizing your hands, you were free to enter.

While in the library, the atmosphere was unsettled. Not disturbing, but a persistent absence. The main floor (Image 1) was typically full and humming with chatter and student traffic. The Writing Help was blocked off with caution tape as well (Image 3). Everyone was required to wear a mask at all times.

Personally, I prefer the upper levels of the library, so I made my way up to the second floor, noting that all other floors, including the basement, were off limits. The final image is of the second level study area (Image 2). Before COVID, the second floor was for quiet study, and it could not be quieter than that day. There was one other student on the floor when I came, as seen in the photo. There was something fascinating and chilling about how the photo came out, with the empty room and one student. It really brought home what COVID campus felt like for me.

After my day of work, I left the way I came. The entrance employee and I shared some farewells, and I was free to walk out the front door. Masks are stifling, especially to wear for hours on end. It was liberating to be outside and breathe freely.

MacLaughlin Library (Image 1)

MacLaughlin Library (Image 2)