Ritter Library Prepares for a Future after COVID-19

Ritter Library has been a hub of activity on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University for years. But when COVID-19 struck and the university went virtual, the library saw fewer people. As the world gets back to normal, Ritter Library hopes it can too.

When the pandemic started, the library made a lot of adjustments. “We had to move a lot of furniture to enforce social distancing. We had to limit people using the library to only members of the BW community, so no one from the public could come in. We had to reduce building hours, and we had to go all remote with our resource services,” said Ritter Library Director Charles Vesei.

COVID-19 made life at the library much different than what it would normally be. There were fewer student study groups, fewer places to sit and relax, and less interaction between Ritter staff and students.

Vesei was not confident about the chances for any changes this semester, but hopes it could be soon. “Realistically, it’ll be a couple more months, probably over the summer. There is a lot of optimism and there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the vaccine is only good if it gets into people’s arms,” Vesei said.

Head of Public Services, Laurie Willis, said the library learned a lot from this pandemic and the changes it brought. “The part that I liked was that when we can share our screens back and forth. So if you and I were working on a question, I could share my screen and show you exactly what I was doing,” said Willis.

Willis said she was excited about the idea of using virtual learning even after the library opened back up. “I would like to keep both because I think in some instances working virtually and sharing screens can be really helpful,” she said.

As more vaccines get distributed, and the world gets closer to normal, so does Ritter. Willis and Vesei both hope people get vaccinated and enjoy returning to the library.

“I hope we can take the positives that we have gotten out of this and build on them,” said Willis. “As much as I want people to think of the library as a physical place to go, I also hope that they take away that a big part of the library is the personnel and the services that we bring to you,” Willis said.