Recommended COVID-Related Spacing Adjustments
Updated: 11/3/2020


This plan seeks to protect the health of patrons and staff, and to encourage physical distancing in the public spaces in Burke Library. 

Building occupancy under normal circumstances, exclusive of staff offices and private workspaces, is estimated to be approximately 520 based on available seating. This occupancy level will decrease after implementing the spacing adjustments identified in this proposal to promote social distancing. This plan will be included in the LITS Continuity Plan to adjust for varying levels of College operating levels.

Overall building seating will be reduced to lower the potential density of the Burke Library. Additional COVID related adjustments will be implemented, including plexiglass sneeze guards at service points, inclusion of signage to promote social distancing, removal of furniture that cannot be socially distanced, and requirement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If the College shifts to a different operating level, reduced furniture and swipe access will be used to further lower the density.

Burke Library includes the follow identifiable spaces:

  • Service Points: Circulation/Reserves, Help Desk, Research and Design Studio
  • Collaborative or group study areas  
  • Individual study areas 
  • Specialized technology stations 
  • Amenities (public restrooms, vending machines, library lockers) 
  • Classrooms: Couper classroom, 209, 211, 213, 215
  • Stryker All Night Reading Room
  • Library Commons
  • Stacks

Burke Library Fall Adjustments

The following spacing adjustments are recommended by the LITS Incident Management Team for access during the Fall 2020 semester. These recommendations assume an operating level of COVID-NORMAL.

General Recommendations:

  • Social distancing (6ft+) required for everyone at all times, except for incidental contact (ie, passing someone, handing off equipment, etc). 
  • Masks must be worn at all times while in the building. 
  • Social Distancing markers will be placed on the floor at service points.
  • Signage throughout to provide directional guidance, promote social distancing, and require mask wearing.
  • Eating will not be allowed in the library. Covered beverages are allowed and masks may be lifted briefly to drink.
  • Cash transactions will not be accepted by the Circulation Desk.
  • Vending machines will not be available.

Card Swipe Access

  • Burke Library will remain closed to the public during COVID-Normal.
  • Swipe access for all Hamilton staff, students, faculty during normal business hours, beginning Monday, August 24, 2020.

Reduced building hours while classes are in session (starting 8/24/2020)

  • Sunday: 12:00 PM - Midnight
  • Monday-Thursday: 7:30 AM - Midnight
  • Friday: 7:30 AM - 10:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Stryker All Night Reading Room: unavailable 5:30 AM - 7:30 AM daily for cleaning

Service model

  • Service points will be minimally staffed in-person.
  • Contactless equipment and library material request services will be available.

Browsing the stacks

  • In general, the stacks are closed to physical browsing. Materials will be retrieved by LITS staff by request to the appropriate Service Point. Contact Circulation for more information.

Basement access (Archives, etc)

  • Access by appointment only.

Library Commons

  • This space will have group furniture removed and replaced with individual study areas and socially distanced chairs.

Service points

  • Plexiglass sneeze guards installed at each service point.
  • Research and Design Studio: plexiglass installed on 3 of the 4 sides.
  • Help Desk: plexiglass along the public-facing side of the Help desk. A space allowance would be required for passing through equipment to patrons. 
  • Circulation: plexiglass along half of the public-facing side of the counter (i.e. the section between Help Desk and the column near the circ student workspace). A space allowance would be required near the student workstation at the Circulation desk for transactions (Hill Cards, library books, etc.). 
  • Staff at service desks may only interact with patrons when behind the plexiglass if at all possible. 

Computer Workstations and Printers

  • Remove chairs and ancillary parts of every other computer to encourage physical distancing.
  • Set up printers at end farthest from computers on each pod and demarcate traffic lanes/6’ spacing on the floor. 
  • Keep electronics wipes available at these sites.
  • Signage to wipe down computers/printers before and after use.

Specialized technology stations (VR/AR and others)

  • All stations should be reconfigured for individual use.  In most cases, this will simply mean removing chairs and/or (re)installing dividers between stations. Some shuffling of equipment may also be required.
  • Keep electronics wipes available at these sites.

Collaborative/Group study spaces

  • 8 ft wooden group study tables (typically seating four) will sit 1 person at each end. 
  • The 3rd floor caves likewise need to reduce occupancy to 1 person/cave. 
  • Booth seating should be removed and placed in storage by Facilities.

Individual study spaces

  • Re-space individual carrels throughout Burke. To create room for this, some individual carrels should be moved down to the 1st floor to replace the multi-seat mobile furniture that currently occupies the 1st floor. 

Soft seating

  • Most soft seating needs only to be socially distanced and any shared coffee tables or benches removed.
  • All sofas should be removed, as well as, any other furniture that cannot accommodate 6’ spacing between patrons.


  • 2nd Floor Classrooms: Facilities Management has reduced occupancy within these spaces to accommodate for social distancing.
  • Couper Classroom: will reduce occupancy to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Retiree Carrel Access

  • Follow DOF Guidelines. For more information, contact Nathan Goodale.
  • No access to carrels in the fall (materials retrievable by request)
  • Card access to be allowed for Retirees-Working


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