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Burns Library Services


COVID-19 access to Burns Library

Reference & Instruction Services at Burns Library

COVID-19 access to Burns Library

We are all responsible for the health and safety of our community and ourselves. Following the protocols outlined below demonstrates care and respect for others, and helps to protect you as well. Our mission is to provide service to others. Caring is the foundation of service, and service is expressed in deeds even more than words.

We expect that Burns Library guidelines may change during the course of the summer as government agencies and the University issue additional directives, and as we test them during other research visits.

All services are contingent upon staffing being available

Before your visit (overview)

Burns Library will be opening the reading room to researchers in a limited and controlled capacity starting June 23, 2020. Starting the week of August 3, 2020, Burns Library research appointments will only be available Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 9:30am - 12:30pm.

Per Massachusetts State guidelines, travelers arriving in Massachusetts are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. Travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey arriving in Massachusetts are exempt from this directive and need not self-quarantine for 14 days.

For the safety of Burns library staff and researchers, no more than three researchers will be allowed in the reading room at a time, and researchers will be required to wear masks/cloth face coverings at all times.

Appointments will be required during this initial reopening phase, and will be limited to 3 hours length. The following times are available

  • Wednesday 9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

  • Thursday 9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

  • Friday 9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

Appointments must be made with at least 24 hours notice, and researchers are encouraged to arrive at 9:30 a.m. If the materials you are interested in using are stored offsite (anything with the message "Advance notice needed; Contact Burns Library" in the library catalog), we require at least 3 business days notice before your appointment.

Do not travel to the library if you have not had a confirmation email from us. If you are not feeling well, please respect everyone's safety and email our staff to cancel or reschedule your appointment.

How to make an appointmennt

Searching the library catalog (advanced search tutorial) will let you limit your results to only Burns Library holdings.

As you identify what you would like to see, click the blue "Schedule Visit to Burns Library" link

Appointments and requests for materials are completed through the Burns Library online request management system. When prompted to sign-in, use the “login or register” boxes to open or create your account.

Once you've reviewed our registration policies and completed the registration form, you'll return to the request form.

To complete the request form:

  • For published material: Review item information and add details on the specific volume or copy you wish to see (if needed)
  • For archival material:  Review collection information and add the boxes you want to see in the Box field.
    • Materials are viewed at a box level, so you only need to list each box once
    • Refer to the finding aid in order to identify the boxes you would like to see in the reading room (found at the end of the catalog record under Links). For digital material, enter the Digital Content number from the finding aid in place of box number.
  • If needed, include any questions or accommodations needed for your visit.
  • Schedule the date you would like to visit the reading room at the end of the request form, and press submit.

You may place requests for as many materials as you’d like, but will be restricted to using 1 box or up to 3 volumes at a time. Please indicate your priority requests in the Special Requests field.

Staff will email you to confirm your appointment date/time and materials. We will also ask you to confirm you are feeling well, are not exhibiting any symptoms associated with COVID-19, have observed Massachusetts state guidelines on travel and self quarantining, and do not believe you pose a health risk to others.

The reading room staff will have the materials ready for your visit. You'll simply need to show a school or government-issued ID (from a safe distance) and take a photograph to finish your registration process. 

Please plan on bringing your own laptop or tablet to avoid use of public computers. 

If we do not have sufficient staffing to support your visit, Burns Library may notify you that an appointment has been cancelled


The day of your visit

When you arrive, please use your cell phone to call the number posted on our door and to provide your name. The exterior entrance to Burns Library will be locked.

Please wear a mask/cloth face covering at all times in our building. Our staff will be doing the same.

Please wash your hands thoroughly after arriving. Hand sanitizing stations will be set up for all to use, but hands must be thoroughly rinsed or washed after using hand sanitizer and before handling collection materials to ensure that no sanitizer residue is transferred to the materials, as it may damage them.

Please bring your own water supply to be stored in your assigned locker. Staff areas and Bapst Library will generally not be available to researchers. 

Please observe distancing in the coat room. Only one person at a time. Lockers will be assigned by the security officer in a rotating pattern to allow sufficient quarantining between uses. 

Researchers may bring only silenced cell phones, digital cameras, wallets, pencils, and laptops or tablets without cases into the reading room. Power cords and headphones for electronic equipment are permitted.


During your visit

Common Areas: 

Please observe social distancing in the coat room. Only one person at a time. 

Researchers may bring only silenced cell phones, digital cameras, wallets, pencils, and laptops or tablets without cases into the reading room. Power cords and headphones for electronic equipment are permitted.

Please let the security office know when you are ready. They will call the reading room to alert the staff.

Burns Library restrooms are on Level 1 (down two flights of stairs). Please follow posted Burns Library protocols when using them.

    Please speak to staff if you need an accessible restroom. 

Masks or cloth face coverings are required at all times while in the building, including  stairways, corridors, and common areas.

If you need a break during your appointment, please observe distancing guidelines in the Ford Tower. 

Reading Room: 

Face masks or cloth face coverings are required while in the reading room, in accordance with Massachusetts order : face masks or cloth face coverings are required in public places where social distancing is not possible. This applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Staff will be doing the same. 

If this is your first visit to Burns Library, staff will need to take a photograph of you to complete your Burns Library Account. You will not be asked to remove your mask for this photograph.

All researchers will be asked to show a photo ID. Please hold up your ID from a safe distance so staff can verify the type / issuing body 

Social distancing will be practiced as much as possible in the Reading Room. You will be assigned a seat that is distanced from the staff and other researchers. Please observe tape lines indicating safer distances.  Shared surfaces are disinfected at the beginning of each shift and the end of each shift.

Materials have not been disinfected or quarantined. Hand sanitizer is not allowed in the Reading Room. If you have used hand sanitizer, please thoroughly wash/rinse your hands so damaging residue is not  transferred to the materials.Researchers will not wear gloves in the Reading Room unless working with photographs, metal, plaster, or vellum.

While in the reading room, you will have access to one box or up to 3 volumes on your table at one time.  Let staff know when you are finished, and they will remove the box/book(s) and set up any additional material you have requested. 

No materials will be retrieved within 30 minutes of closing.

Staff will gather collection materials 10 minutes before closing.