University Librarian Walker: Current services and a look ahead

Author: John Slott

Note: Dated communications are archived here for reference, but may not reflect the most up-to-date information available.

Hesburgh Library and reflection pond

Dear Colleagues:

I hope that this email finds you and your loved ones well.

As you are aware, on March 27, in-person access to Hesburgh Library and branch libraries was suspended. While our physical library spaces remain closed, we have continued to collaborate with you through online and remote services for ongoing support of teaching, learning, and research. 

As Bob Bernhard wrote in his May 18 letter, we are developing procedures to safely expand in-person library services and prepare for a controlled reopening of Hesburgh Libraries spaces. I write today to provide an update and additional details about what to expect as we approach the fall semester.

In alignment with University priorities, our first guiding principle is to protect the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and their families as we support the teaching and research mission of Notre Dame. The Hesburgh Libraries Phased Reopening Task Force has been working in conjunction with several University partners to create and implement a comprehensive plan to help safely welcome faculty and students back to library spaces. 

Below I offer an overview of our service modes and phased approach leading up to the fall semester. This is followed by more details about our current phase and the no-contact services that have come online. Lastly, I have included a look ahead as we prepare for the return of students and faculty to campus.


Remote Services

  • Remote and Online Services; Digital and Electronic Resources
  • No Building Access for Users

Select Expansion of Services — Begins June 15

Enhanced Safety Preparations for Fall Semester Begin 

  • Select Expansion of No-contact Services
  • Remote Services Continue
  • No Building Access for Users

Select Expansion of Building Access — Begins July 1

Enhanced Safety Preparations for Fall Semester Continue

  • Select, Controlled Building Access
  • No-contact Services Continue
  • Remote Services Continue

Fall Semester on Campus Begins — Targeted For August 10

Enhanced Safety Protocols, Service Modifications and Space Restrictions in Place for Hesburgh Library and Branch Libraries by August 1

  • Building Access Expands with Modifications
  • In-person Services Resume with Modifications
  • Remote Services Continue

Current Phase: Select Expansion of Services

Select Expansion of Services Using No-contact Protocols

  • NEW - Provide a pick-up process for circulating print materials using no-contact, social distancing protocols.
  • NEW - Provide digital document delivery of our local print collections for new research-related requests.
  • NEW - Provide request-driven digitization of non-circulating materials from Rare Books & Special Collections and University Archives.
  • NEW - Provide no-contact procedures for book returns by faculty and graduate students. (All materials will undergo a quarantine process.)
  • NEW - Accept new submissions for print and physical media acquisitions.
  • PENDING - In special cases, provide a pick-up process for select items in non-circulating stack collections using no-contact, social distancing protocols.
  • PENDING - Resume ordering and processing of new print and physical media.
  • PENDING - Resume Interlibrary Loan Borrowing.

Ongoing: Remote Services Continue, Including


July 1 to July 30: Ramp Up for Fall Semester; Select Expansion of Building Access 

Comprehensive Building and Safety Preparation for Fall Semester

During the mid-summer timeframe, as we prepare for the fall semester, library building access will remain limited. With the guidance and resources of the University, we are developing plans for significant, new procedures, workflows, and required training to enable us to support on-campus teaching and research operations. Important projects designed to enhance safety, including those listed below, will be implemented during this time. Areas of focus include:  

  • Creating facility-wide safety standards
  • Reconfiguring spaces
    • User spaces (furniture, computers, equipment)
    • Employee workspaces (furniture, computers, equipment, common areas)
    • Collaborative spaces, study rooms, conference rooms
    • Specialty spaces (multimedia rooms, video conference rooms)
    • Other common spaces (North Reading Room, Scholars Lounge)
  • Installing significant directional and safety signage
    • Travel routes through and between floors
    • Safety guidelines
    • Line formations 
    • Social distancing reinforcement
  • Adjusting workflows and processes at service points
    • Point of service PPE and cleaning protocols
    • Quarantine process for materials
    • No- and low-contact pick-up procedures for users
    • Safe handling of materials between workgroups and users
  • Adjusting to staffing schedules
  • Planning and management of building population density and physical distancing
  • Planning for enforcement of safety procedures

Exceptional-case and Controlled Building Access

  • Controlled access to library spaces may be granted only under exceptional circumstances where no alternatives are available. 
  • More details on the criteria for this library-vetted process are forthcoming.
  • This presumes all necessary health and safety protocols are in place and being enforced.

August 10: Fall Semester On Campus Begins

More information about on-campus, fall operations is forthcoming.

Hesburgh Libraries employees will work throughout the summer to prepare for the fall semester activities beginning in early August. Again, our primary goal, in partnership with University working groups, is to promote and help to safeguard the health and safety of those who enter the Hesburgh Libraries physical spaces. More details about in-person services and access to library spaces for the fall semester are forthcoming.

Please continue to visit our Library Service Continuity webpage, consult with subject librarians and specialists, and ask research-related questions via email or chat as often as needed. 

If you have specific questions for the Hesburgh Libraries Phased Reopening Task Force, please submit them to

Whether in-person or remote, we continue to be committed to service excellence as we connect the Notre Dame community to knowledge. We look forward to our safe return to campus this fall.


Diane Parr Walker
Edward H. Arnold University Librarian