I’m the public service librarian at University of Washington Special Collections. I manage our reading room, where users can access our incredible rare and historical materials. I’m also responsible for our reopening plans. We’re in a basement, with no opening windows and no doors that lead outside, so I requested that our reading room HVAC be assessed as ventilation is crucial in preventing COVID-19 spread. Most of our users are from outside UW. In 2018-2019, non-UW community members made up 44.9% of our visits — more than UW faculty, staff and students combined. As members of the public, they don’t have the same vaccine requirements we do.
We have safety and disinfecting protocols in place, and were willing to open and wait for more heavily-used areas to be assessed first, due to the backlog of assessments. However, management canceled the request because our space “isn’t a priority.” This decision was made by people who don’t staff service desks.
We are being asked to take risks with our health and that of our loved ones to serve our users but not being given the information to assess and respond to that risk.
Allee Monheim, Seattle