Park library flourishes with lessened COVID restrictions


The first floor common study space in Norrington Center sits quiet during a weekday in October 2021.

Skyler Jensen, Editor-In-Chief

The McAfee Memorial Library is back in full force after shutting down resources and having a smaller available capacity last year.

While classes were in session during the 2020-21 academic year, the McAfee Memorial Library in Norrington Center felt like a ghost town. Few people were visiting during the day because of COVID-19 restrictions that were in place.

Opening back up to full capacity this year is not the only change that the library has made.

“We have really revamped our spaces in the library this year,” said Camille Abdel-Jawad, MLS, Park University instruction and outreach librarian.

Now, the upstairs is a quiet space where students can quietly study or work silently alone or in small groups. The first floor is the collaboration floor, explained Abdel-Jawad.

“That is where we have lots of groups that work together,” said Abdel-Jawad. Here the students can get together and study with friends and classmates.

On this floor, there are also two huddle rooms and a learning lab that allows students to collaborate more privately. Students can reserve the learning labs on the Park library website.

Several students have been using the huddle rooms since their reopening. One student who has taken advantage of it is Keaton Wilczynski, a junior biology major.

After struggling with a lack of social interaction last year, she has found it easier to meet more people as more classes have switched to in person. She studies with those people in the library, typically booking a huddle room to be able to concentrate more.

Wilczynski said she finds it nice to have an area to work with a group because the group lets her know that she is not alone when things are difficult. Plus, the huddle rooms allow her to isolate from others to prevent potential distractions.

On top of group work, it allows students who live off campus to have a place to go work outside of home during the day.

“I use the library most for a break spot in between classes,” said Chelsie Shepard, junior communication studies student. Shepard lives 30 minutes away, so with an hour in between classes three days of the week, having an open place to go work saves her a lot of time and gas.

Shepard also uses the library to work after class or to work with other people.

“It’s just kind of an area for me to get stuff done and park for the day,” she said.

She feels like she can find a quiet area where she still has her own space even though the library is open to all students.

The library also offers students many other resources other than quiet places to study and work. One of those available resources is student jobs.

“I wanted to work for the library because I’m interested in getting my master’s in library sciences after my bachelors, so I thought it would be a great experience to have,” said Alicia Gray, senior English major and student library assistant.

She enjoys the sense of community that the library brings to the campus, the great resources and welcoming feel.

Another resource the library offers is the online chat, which allows students to talk with a real librarian anytime during the evening said Abdel-Jawad. It is featured on the library website and is going to grow more this semester. Abdel-Jawad explained that, beginning Jan. 1, the chat transitioned to be open 24/7 so students can access librarians for research help at any time.

In addition to the online chat, students can also meet with reference librarians if they are struggling with finding sources for a class.

The reference librarians are great at finding sources and helping students get access to books or databases, said Gray. She added that people might forget about this resource or be nervous to ask for help, but that it can make research easier.

Students also appreciate that the Jolly Roger Coffee Shop has also opened again in the library.

Wilczynski said that the coffee shop might be her most-used resource at the library because she uses the caffeine to help motivate her and get her through her assignments.

Also in Norrington Center is the Campanella Gallery, located on the second floor. It features exhibits from Park students, faculty and other local artists.

The library has also started to host in-person events this academic year. Last semester, events included a board game night, with the collection the library started in August, and a de-stress event with therapy dogs. They also partnered with the Park Speech and Debate team to host an event for Banned Books Week, said Abdel-Jawad.

Through these events, the hope is to let the Park community know that the library offers more than just study space, continued Abdel-Jawad. She plans to host more events this semester and hopes to work with more student organizations on the events.

“The library is a great space. I’m very thankful. I feel like it is an underused resource by students,” said Wilczynski.

To use the space, students can go to the library between 7:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Friday, it is open 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. On Saturday, the building is open from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and on Sunday, it is open 4 p.m.-9 p.m.

To contact the library, email [email protected] or one of the other email addresses or phone numbers listed on the library’s contact us page.