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‘I got my first 4.0 last semester’: UAA/APU Consortium Library stays open for students

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 8:15 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - While classes went online, students at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University had one sanctuary of learning with the Consortium Library.

Dean of the library Steve Rollins was proud to say that the building never closed completely. It used to be accessible by the public, but now only those with proper I.D. are allowed in the building.

The library some serious changes to make it a pandemic-friendly place. Rollins said they took out half of the seats and desktop computers, group study rooms are now only open for one person, the books go through a quarantine period if used, nightly cleaning and the tables have ‘clean-dirty’ cards for students to flip over to the ‘dirty’ side if they used the space.

While it is more work, Rollins said it’s all about helping the students, especially those who don’t have a quiet space at home or internet, to get their work done. A story from a reference librarian helping a student over the phone recently stands out to him.

“She actually had to work with a student that was in her closet at home because that was the one place where she could actually find in her house that was quiet enough in order to do some work with a librarian,” Rollins said.

The library also has equipment for the students without. Head of Access, Lorelei Sterling, said they secured 20 laptops and 20 Chromebooks to loan to students for the whole semester. They also have 32 Dell Laptops and six MacBooks that students could check out weekly.

“I really wish that everyone already had one at home, but for those who really needed our services, it’s been great to be able to provide that for them. Our numbers are down across the board, but the people who need them really need them,” Sterling said.

There are also virtual resources available at the library. Sterling said their virtual research help, access to materials and virtual chat with librarians have been around before the pandemic. Sterling said it was letting students know that they existed that they had to put some work into.

While the library is closed to the public, many of the resources are available via the Interlibrary Loan program. Sterling said there, students across the nation have access to Consortium Library resources either virtually or through the mail. She said the usage of these services has skyrocketed.

The students are finding more than a quiet place to get work done at the library, like anthropology senior Benjamin Miller.

He said living at home and going to school at home got stressful. He said it wasn’t uncommon for him to lose focus on his work. When he went to the library, it showed.

“I got my first 4.0 last semester,” he said.

He doesn’t know if it was the library that helped his GPA, though he doesn’t want to discredit that the building is where the achievement happened.

While he’s quite pleased with his grades, he can’t help but think about how studying — alone — among all the rows of books that at least his time there actually feels like college.

“It makes me feel a lot more like I’m still a university student,” he said. “One of the big problems that a lot of students have with the online classes is they’re like, ‘why am I paying for this? It doesn’t really feel like I’m going to college anymore. I’m just doing stuff online.’ So I think being able to come to the library has helped me continue to be serious about it and be like, ‘you know this is still classwork, this is still something that I need to be able to do, it’s still important, even if it’s online.’”

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