As he walked through Charles Library in March, Evan Weinstein never expected to see it empty less than a year after it first opened.
“It was eerie,” said Weinstein, Temple University’s library facilities superintendent. “It’s this large, fantastic open space, so it was odd to not see it occupied by students and staff and members of the community.”
Like many campus facilities, Charles Library temporarily closed after Temple suspended in-person instruction and vacated on-campus housing last March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the summer, facilities like Charles Library reopened after spending months implementing new safety protocols to promote the university’s four public health pillars: wearing face coverings, social distancing, frequent hand-washing and health monitoring
Although Temple moved nearly all classes online on Sept. 3, many campus facilities, including Charles Library, the Howard Gittis Student Center and the Wellness Resource Center, are still offering in-person and virtual services for students for the Fall 2020 semester.
Here is what will remain open.
On Aug. 3, Charles Library reopened to the Temple and North Philadelphia communities on a limited schedule and resumed its book borrowing and returning services.
All Temple libraries are quarantining physical materials for seven days after they are returned to protect staff and borrowers from potentially spreading COVID-19.
The library has reduced its seating from more than 1,000 seats to approximately 335 to encourage social distancing among visitors.
“Most people are doing a great job of observing physical distancing and mask wearing guidelines,” said Sara Wilson, assistant director of outreach and communications for Charles Library. “We do occasionally have to remind people to put on their masks, but once we do, people are typically happy to comply.”
Study rooms are available to students as in previous semesters, but only one person is allowed at a time in most rooms, Wilson said. Students are also still able to borrow laptop and battery packs and use the library’s public printers, microfilm reader, overhead scanner workstations and charging stations.
The library also began hosting virtual workshops over the summer, which have been better attended than previous in-person events, Wilson said.
“We’re reaching a broader audience of interests,” Wilson said. “It’s easier to fit into your schedule if you don’t need to travel.”
The library will be open on Mondays through Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. Members of the Temple and North Philadelphia communities can enter the library through the doors on 13th Street and exit through the doors on Liacouras Walk.
Howard Gittis Student Center
On June 22, the Howard Gittis Student Center partially reopened services like its Philadelphia Federal Credit Union branch and UPS store for Temple’s Summer II semester as part of the university’s five-phase reopening plan.
In the months since, the Student Center has reopened more of its services, like its human resources offices and OWLCard office. The Student Center has also removed furniture to promote social distancing and installed hand sanitizer dispensers and signage to regulate movement throughout the building. Plexiglass barriers were installed at food service counters, office desks and the information desk.
“We’re doing everything that we can to help keep people safe in the building,” said Jason Levy, senior director of Student Center operations and conferences. “I don’t have any significant concerns specifically about the Student Center or any of our associated spaces.”
Students can enter the Student Center food court through the building’s south entrance on 13th Street. In the food court, the Student Center distanced 262 dots on the floor, and will only allow people in if there is a dot available for them as a way to promote social distancing, Levy said.
The Student Center is open on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Wellness Resource Center
The Wellness Resource Center, Temple’s health promotion office, has transitioned many of its services online for the fall, including its events, wellness consultations and peer and staff-led educational programs.
Students can visit the Wellness Resource Center’s office in Room 201 of the Student Center for services like purchasing safer sex supplies. However, the Wellness Resource Center has temporarily suspended some in-person services, such as providing free HIV testing in partnership with Philadelphia FIGHT.
“As a public health office, we feel pretty passionately about educating folks about public health and ways to keep themselves safe and well,” said Liz Zadnik, associate director of the Wellness Resource Center. “Community wellness is really something that’s everyone’s responsibility, systemically and individually.”
The Wellness Resource Center has also installed plexiglass barriers at its front desk and is requiring students to wear masks and practice social distancing. Students are asked to not enter the office in groups of more than two people, Zadnik said.
“Students who have visited the office so far have been really just appreciative that the services we offer have resumed,” Zadnik said. “We want to be a resource to the campus community and then offer a safe space and affirm assets, information and supplies to continue to stay well.”
The Wellness Resource Center is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.