By Caroline Ryan, Jada Butler, Ashley Bowden
At 11:05 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, the office of Public Safety sent an announcement via email and text message notifying students and faculty that the library would be closed for two days. According to the notice, “the library will be closed effective immediately and will reopen Thursday, Oct. 19 at 12 noon. Efforts are being made to relocate the afternoon and evening classes that were scheduled in the library to other campus buildings. Class relocations will be posted at the library’s entrance. Updates will be emailed through LIU email.” The notification did not state the reason for the closing of the library.
In response to the Pioneer’s inquiries, Head of Public Safety Michael Fevola stated in an email that the library was closed because of wasp infestation. “LIU Post Facilities Staff and a contracted exterminator located a bee’s nest in the attic of the library and took immediate action to eradicate the nest and protect the health and safety of the public. The exterminator began professional treatment to remove the nest and treat the building. The treatment requires that the building is vacated for 48 hours.”
Faculty members with offices in the library were unexpectedly displaced due to the library’s unplanned closing. Classes were reassigned to rooms in different buildings. The Information Technology department was temporarily moved to the Browse store in Hillwood Commons. IT has “spread over what available space we have; they are utilizing the work room and the desk they already have for daily use. So far we’ve adjusted pretty nicely,” Albert Donor, a senior broadcasting major and Browse store associate, said.
Shaireen Rasheed, a professor of education, was the last professor to leave her office when she got word of the library’s wasp infestation. “I just took everything out of my office that I need for the next two days,” she said. “I’m trying to make a makeshift office wherever I can find wifi.” Rasheed has office hours set up for students to visit, she’s been holding meetings in Hillwood Commons. She had to post-pone a Skype meeting due to the lack of privacy available. Rasheed had just enough notice to remove her important belongings from the library so that her work has not been adversely affected by her removal from her office.
According to Fevola, rooms are reserved in Hillwood Commons for students to use as quiet study and computer space. Students who have questions regarding their classroom location may contact the Campus Concierge at 516-299- 2800.
Although the original notification informed students that the library would reopen at noon on Friday, Oct. 20, students did not receive a notice that the library had reopened until 2:13 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20. The notice sent by Public Safety via the LIU Alert email system, stated that the library had reopened, thanked the community for its patience, and informed students and faculty that the library had resumed normal operating hours.
During this three and a half day library closure, students had to find other places to study, have internet access, and print out work. They were unable to take out books or use the library’s reference services, other than by email. Dean of Students Michael Berthel informed students by email that the library maintained virtual reference services to answer reference, catalog, and database questions via firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The library faculty did a great job maintaining the online chat reference and email reference services,” Thomas Walker, associate dean of the college of education, information, and technology, and director of the Palmer school of library and information science, said.
Hillwood Commons served as a makeshift study zone, with several rooms reserved for “quiet study” and the Career Bar reserved as a computer lab and printing source. In the small alternative spaces provided, some students found it difficult to efficiently complete their work, and computer and printer access was not always available. “Everything was full,” Anthony Cavarretta, a freshman broadcasting major, said. “I had to do a project and I couldn’t, so we were pushed back.”
“It was frustrating that the clubs that had reserved rooms prior to the library closing had to relocate to other buildings for their meetings,” Alexa Kaplan, junior business marketing major, and social media manager and secretary of Hillel, said. The library staff was satisfied with the alternatives provided, though. “We worked around the disruption quite well,” Walker said. “Library faculty continued to do research or to work on tasks that could be completed outside the building – thanks to the internet.”
Students received no further notifications regarding the measures taken to remove the bees.Then the following week, on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 9 p.m., the library was closed again for the rest of the night. Michael Berthel, dean of students, claimed in an email sent to the Pioneer, that this was done out of an abundance of caution after Public Safety received a report of a bee sting.
Facilities services and two exterminating companies responded to the report. They conducted full inspections of the building and found no issues, according to Berthel.
“Additional precautionary measures were put in place to ensure the continued safety of the community,” Berthel said.