OSU Valley Library to be closed to public in August, first floor closed for fall term

A photo of the Valley Library, taken Wednesday. According to the Interim University Librarian Anne-Marie Deitering, this closure will provide a much needed opportunity to prepare for a return to higher-occupancy use.

Cara Nixon, News Contributor

The Oregon State University Valley Library will be closed to the public in August, and the first floor will be closed for fall term, due to a needed reset.

According to a press release sent out by Interim University Librarian Anne-Marie Deitering, besides the lobby and Java II, the Valley Library will be closed from Aug. 2 to Aug. 27, open to building employees only. 

Tents will stay on the library plaza, and furniture will be rolled out every morning at 10 a.m. to serve as study spaces with wifi. The lobby will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will include quick print and scanning stations as well as carry out services for picking up holds. 

Interlibrary loan and document delivery will still be available, as well as course reserves. Home delivery services will be extended until Sept. 15. Ask a Librarian and research consultation will still be accessible, and Student Multimedia services will continue to have walk-up service. 

The building is closing due to a needed reset, according to Deitering. They said there are multiple reasons as to why this reset is necessary. 

Firstly, since the Valley Library was required to comply with physical distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, many changes had to be made in terms of moving furniture, defining traffic flows, putting up barriers and building quarantine areas. 

“Those spaces need to be turned back into classrooms, meeting rooms and study spaces, and our service points need to be made more open and accessible,” Deitering said in an email. “This might sound like it would be quick work, but the list gets really long in a six-floor building!”

Secondly, though there was only one floor open to the public during the pandemic, Deitering pointed out that the other floors were also altered to accommodate for COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines for library employees and need to be restored. 

Finally, while the building is closed, there will also be training and orientations for library workers occurring. 

Due to summer classes being remote until the end of summer, Deitering said library traffic has been significantly lower when compared to other non-pandemic years. For this reason, Deitering said it’s the best time for them to complete these projects. Students taking summer classes will still have access to digital services as well as mailing services for physical materials until Sept. 15.

Public buildings like the Valley Library often serve as refuge from extreme heat, and last year, from wildfire smoke, but Deitering said the library is unable to accommodate for these conditions, even without the closure. Due to the pandemic, the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system has to pull in more outside air than normal. 

“Right now, outside air makes up 90% of the air running through the library,” Deitering explained. “So, if the air outside is really hot or smoky, that is the air we are pulling into the library. Smoke and heat are a big worry, because so long as we need to keep outside air running through our systems, we cannot provide a haven from those conditions in the library.”

After Aug. 30, the first floor of the Valley Library will remain closed to complete another major project. During this closure, Student Multimedia Services will be available on the second floor, and staff will be helping library-users access first-floor stations. The Valley Library will also be restoring evening and weekend hours, but exact hours will be dependent on staffing. 

This first-floor closure is related to the library’s offsite storage location closing to allow OSU to begin construction on the new Arts and Education Complex. To accommodate for this change, the Valley Library has been given a new, bigger offsite storage location. Deitering explained that some materials were moved directly into the new storage location, while others were moved back to the library.

“Some materials were no longer needed, and others were added back into the library collection,” Deitering said. “This created some space for us to move additional materials from Valley into the new storage location. This work is important, because it will give us more flexibility with our spaces in Valley when it is completed, which will benefit the OSU community in a lot of ways.”

Deitering said they are expecting the first floor to reopen in winter 2022. During the closure, students are expected to have access to all other floors of the library. A large space on the sixth floor has been created for the Graduate Writing Center, and library staff are working to have that project completed before fall term begins. If there are delays, Deitering said it would only be a week or two before the sixth floor opens. 

Deitering pointed out the strain library employees have undergone over the past year and a half and why these closures are necessary. 

“I think it is really important for all of us to remember that the library staff have been working onsite delivering public services and in public spaces for most of the last year and a half (and without the protection of vaccines for most of it),” Deitering said. “They accomplished a lot, and it was often difficult and stressful. It’s really important to me that we have space to really focus on what we need to do to get ready for fall term.”