Starting in the Fall 2021 semester, the Falvey Memorial Library announced that the main collection, located on the third and fourth floors of the library, would reopen to the Villanova community. The main collection was closed to the public last year among COVID-19 restrictions. The stacks located in the library were not available for public access, and there was no study space available on those floors. This announcement comes during a time when the University is making changes to COVID-19 policies put in place last year, allowing the community to return to a “more normal” semester. 

Community members can now access the third and fourth floors, as well as the Falvey West book stacks. 

“[Closing the third and fourth floors] was an effort to minimize health risks to the community,” said Millicent Gaskell, University Librarian and Director of Falvey Memorial Library. “This allowed us to quarantine books, based on American Library Association’s best practices and create social distanced seating options throughout the rest of the Library for students and Falvey staff.” 

According to the American Library Association, quarantining books is the “recommended method for disinfecting library collection materials.” Having only library staff handle books in the stacks and providing a contactless pickup system was deemed the safest way to circulate material to the community.

Students could still access Falvey books but had to do so through the “Pick Up and Go” service. This service required library staff to retrieve books for patrons and allowed patrons to pick them up on the first floor. This service is still offered if community members prefer this method of book collection. But now, Community members can access the main collection for themselves if they choose to do so. 

Gaskell notes how important the reopening is to the community. 

“We recognized how important it is for researchers in certain disciplines to be able to browse our collection in person,” Gaskell said. “This year, as the University policies and CDC guidelines have changed, we are thrilled to be able to reopen those floors.” 

Allowing Community members to peruse the book stacks gives students much more opportunity to research concentrated topics. Falvey Library certainly has the resources to do so. In fact, there are roughly 11.5 miles of book stacks within Falvey Library, which is almost the distance from Villanova’s campus to Philadelphia. Giving students the capability to access these resources first hand surely helps them excel in their respective research.

Such policy changes have also allowed the study space on the third and fourth floors to reopen. While all community members still have to wear masks in the library, they will be able to work at desks within the book stacks. This provides ample space for students that seek a quiet study space on campus, as those floors typically only allow for minimal distractions, and they are perfect for students that prefer to study in silence. This is a major change from last year, when all group tables and study spaces were closed, and instead replaced with the secluded desks of the third and fourth floors. This meant that there was very limited space in the library to do work, making it difficult for students to venture out of their dorm room to complete assignments.