StudyQuad computers and chairs

Academic Commons, Library Serving Students in Reimagined Ways


Students who need academic help, advisement, or research assistance from Buffalo State College’s E. H. Butler Library or Academic Commons this fall will be able to do so, just in a different fashion.

When the library reopens for the start of the fall semester, visitors can access the first floor only. There they will find the layout converted to ensure a socially distanced format. Furniture and computers have been rearranged to allow for at least 6 feet between visitors.

Hours, too, will be reduced, at least for the start of the fall semester. The library will be open during normal business hours Monday through Friday. StudyQuad will offer weekday evening hours and some weekend hours.

“We are planning a phased-in approach to services,” said Charles Lyons, the library’s director. “We’ll monitor the situation closely, and as the semester proceeds, we hope to be able to open up more of our spaces and increase our services.”

While visitors cannot peruse the book stacks on the second and third floors, they will be able to request books by placing a hold for an item in the library’s online catalog and then picking it up at a scheduled time. Books can be returned using the book drop inside the library near the Circulation Desk or outside the library next to the entrance.

“It will operate like curbside pickup for groceries,” Lyons said, adding that there may be a slight delay in getting a desired book. “After books are returned, they will be quarantined for three days for optimum safety. We’ll manage that carefully.”

Academic Commons  
The Academic Commons, located on the first floor of the library, will offer services almost entirely online with limited in-person interactions. Academic Commons includes the Writing Center, the Math CenterSubject Tutoring, the Educational Opportunity Program’s Academic Center for Excellence (EOP-ACE), the Advising Center, and Student Accessibility Services. The Advising Center will have one or two staff members in the office at any one time, and students must make an appointment to meet with them, said Sara Reese, associate director of academic advising, adding that the majority of services will be virtual.

“We currently offer an online live chat, as well as a general e-mail account to address students' concerns that we would typically address during our drop-in advising hours,” Reese said. “Advisers will continue to advise students, but these will occur via Blackboard Collaborate, phone calls, or e-mail conversations.”

Meanwhile, tutoring services will be offered 100 percent remotely. Students can make appointments through the Bengal Success Portal.

The remote format for tutoring isn’t completely new.

“The Writing Center has actually been offering online tutoring as an option since 2018,” said Maggie Herb, director of the college’s Writing Center. “Many students are already familiar with this format and process, and all of our tutors have been trained in using best practices for teaching writing in an online environment.”

Staff members with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Academic Center for Excellence intend to provide a mix of online and in-person services this fall in the Academic Commons area, according to Abdi Hajikandi, assistant director of academic services with EOP. He added that in-person services will depend on the availability of EOP tutors, many of whom are students.  

Student Accessibility Services also will operate remotely Monday through Friday, and students can make appointments for virtual meetings.

“We are concerned that many of our students may fall into a high-risk category for COVID-19, so we want to offer as many services in a no-contact manner as we possibly can,” said Lisa Fronckowiak, director of Student Accessibility Services. “Face-to-face appointments will be offered on a limited, case-by-case basis. If students feel like they require an in-person session, they should contact me to make arrangements.”

Other Library Services
Lyons emphasized that planning for fall operations is still fluid. As of now, other library services are as follows:

  • Archives/Special CollectionsIn-person access to the archives will be available only via appointment and in cases where online access is not sufficient.
  • Course Reserves: Librarians will work with instructors to identify online resources to support their teaching. Please contact the library using its Ask Us service.
  • Instruction: Library instruction will be available primarily online, but to discuss options for how the library can best provide instructional support, please contact a librarian using its Ask Us service.
  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL): Because libraries around the world are offering limited services, there may be initial delays in processing ILL requests. Turnaround times should improve this fall as library networks resume operations.
  • Reference Services: Library reference support and research consultations remain available online. Please contact the library through its Ask Us service.

For the most up-to-date information on library services, please visit the E. H. Butler Library website.

Photo by Bruce Fox, campus photographer.