May 2024

As we look ahead to the end of the spring semester and exam period, I am reminded how important the Library is to our academic community. This time of year can be incredibly rewarding and uplifting, but can also be the time when we are most likely to see students in distress. Some merely need a good place for concentrated work, or someone to help with a question. Thank you for all you do to keep our spaces safe and productive, and, most importantly, for being such a key resource at this critical time of the academic year.

We have seen a slight increase in unusual activity in and around our library spaces, so in addition to the above thanks, I also want to remind (and reassure) you of a few things:

  • Soliciting for political or other purposes is not allowed in our spaces; if you become aware of anyone gathering signatures for nominations or engaging in other kinds of political activity, it is ok to let those individuals know that this is a violation of university policy.
  • Posting or putting up signs, posters, table tents, or related things is also not allowed; per Library policy, only previously authorized (by library administration) materials can be posted. There are a few exceptions where spaces have been specifically set aside, such as the bulletin board in the Main Library Orange Room, but note that these are governed by specific and narrow posting policies that are clearly displayed in those spaces.
  • Yesterday, some campus buildings with libraries were closed and locked, but without the usual notifications from our campus colleagues. That is not the expected protocol. We re-confirmed today that we will be notified should circumstances require us to close early or change our hours. This will allow orderly communication inside the Library and make sure everyone understands what is happening. Our colleagues on campus are very appreciative of all you do to keep our spaces safe and focused on the important academic work taking place at this critical time.
  • Finally, I’d like to remind everyone of our commitment to reader privacy and intellectual freedom. Although we have not had recent reports of any concern, we limit photography (including filming) inside library spaces so that all visitors can do their work without fear of monitoring, and we have related, specific expectations around the confidentiality of user information.

If something unusual occurs while you are working in a library space, or if you have a question about something you are observing, please do not hesitate to reach out. All library units and departments have contact information and processes in place so that employees, regardless of time of day or day of week, can quickly reach someone in authority, report a problem, ask a question, etc. Those of us in administrative roles expect to be available in case of emergency or unusual circumstances to provide guidance and support to all our library colleagues.

If your safety, or the safety of others, is at risk please call campus police at 911 or non-emergency police dispatch at 217-333-1216. As the situation allows, please inform your direct supervisor and library administration as soon as possible with details of the incident and response.

Thank you again for all you do and wishing you a smooth end to the semester.

Claire Stewart
The Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian