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We are excited and ready to welcome you safely back to Spencer Research Library. Please note that our hours have changed and that the Reading Room is open by appointment only. Learn more about what to expect in Spencer and in other library locations for Fall 2020.

Service Updates, Fall 2020

[Updated August 21, 2020.]

We are excited to welcome researchers and visitors back to Kenneth Spencer Research Library!

The health and safety of library staff and users is our top priority, so to keep everyone safe we have made some changes to the way we normally operate.

  • Spencer Research Library will reopen to the public on Monday, August 24.
  • The Reading Room will be open Monday through Friday, 1pm - 3:30pm, by appointment only.
  • Building hours will be Monday through Friday, 9am - 4pm; closed Saturday.
  • Spencer's terrace-level entrance will be closed. The building will only be accessible via the ground floor entrance, which is located beneath the terrace to Strong Hall and adjacent to the covered parking area off Poplar Lane.

We are also asking all library users to comply with new procedures.

Spencer's plan for Fall 2020 may change based on evolving circumstances and campus, local, state, and federal guidelines. This page will be updated as needed; please check back frequently and before visiting the library. Please contact us at ksrlref@ku.edu or 785-864-4334 if you have questions or concerns.

Information about the services and resources being offered at all KU Libraries locations this semester can be found on the Fall 2020 page.

You can conduct in-person research in the Reading Room.

How to Schedule a Research Appointment

The Reading Room remains open to all researchers, whether or not they are affiliated with KU.

All researchers must schedule a Reading Room appointment at least three business days in advance. This can be done online using KU Libraries' LibCal system.

  • Because we are offering a limited number of appointments each day, researchers can schedule only one appointment per week at a time, except in unusual circumstances.
  • If you need to schedule multiple consecutive days of appointments (e.g. you are traveling from out of town and need to make travel arrangements), please contact Spencer staff at ksrlref@ku.edu.
  • If you don't finish with your requested materials within your appointment, you may be able to return the following day or later in the week, if appointments are available.
  • If you need to cancel your research appointment, please notify Spencer staff at least 24 hours in advance by emailing ksrlref@ku.edu.

Research appointments are scheduled to begin at 1:00pm and end at 3:30pm, but you're welcome to arrive and/or leave at any time within that period.

To help you make the best use of your time in the Reading Room, we strongly encourage you to submit your requests for collection materials using our online Aeon system at least three business days before your research appointment. In selecting your materials, you may wish to consult Spencer's finding aids or the KU Libraries online catalog. If you don’t know what materials you want to see, please contact Spencer staff at ksrlref@ku.edu to schedule a reference consultation before scheduling a research appointment.

We are quarantining collection materials for four days after each use by a researcher or staff member. This means that an item you want to see may not be available for your appointment. We will make every effort to identify this issue and notify you ahead of time when this is the case.

What to Bring

Researchers are required to wear a face covering in all areas of the library, including the Reading Room.

In addition to necessary research materials, researchers are encouraged to bring the following:

  • Essential personal items only.
  • Personal devices (laptops, tablets, phones, and cameras) for searching the KU Libraries online catalog and Spencer finding aids, submitting requests in Aeon, and copying materials.

When You Arrive at Spencer Research Library

All library visitors need to verify their health status using the kiosk located just inside the ground floor entrance, either by scanning a code from their CVKey app self-assessment or by completing a paper form.

The reception desk will not be staffed, so please proceed directly to the Reading Room reference desk.

Lockers remain available for researchers' personal belongings; however, we will not be disinfecting the lockers after each use. Alternatively, patrons have the option to place their personal belongings in a designated space in the Reading Room that is within eyesight but not reach.

Please wash your hands with soap and water before and after using collection materials. Hand sanitizer is strongly discouraged because it can leave a harmful residue on items.

The public computers in the Reading Room are unavailable.

The overhead scanner and the microfilm reader/printer/scanner are available.

Please do not attempt to clean tables, chairs, or collection materials, as that can cause damage.

What We're Doing to Keep Everyone Safe

  • Allowing a limited number of researchers in the Reading Room at one time.
  • Spacing researchers at a safe distance from each other and the reference desk.
  • Rotating researchers throughout the Reading Room over the course of each week so that each table and chair is used once every four days.
  • Outfitting the reference desk with Plexiglas shields.
  • Quarantining collection materials and supplies (e.g. book supports) for four days after each use.
  • Revising procedures to minimize contact between researchers and staff members.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the Reading Room with greater regularity, in alignment with campus cleaning protocol.

You can request reproductions of library materials and receive online research assistance.

While Spencer has been closed, researchers have been able to request reproductions by contacting library staff directly. Beginning August 24, researchers should resume using Spencer's online Aeon system to request reproductions. Please contact Copy Services Manager Kathy Lafferty at klafferty@ku.edu if you have questions or need additional information.

Spencer librarians are available to answer questions about our collections and services and to help you identify digital material in our collections or at other repositories for your research paper or project. Please send your research questions to ksrlref@ku.edu.

Due to shifts in staffing, our response times for providing reproductions and/or research support may be longer than usual.

We are available to support instructional needs.

Spencer librarians remain

  • Committed to supporting the teaching and learning needs of faculty, staff, and teachers at KU, other area colleges and universities, and K-12 schools.
  • Available to collaborate with instructors to develop customized library sessions for their students.
  • Enthusiastic about finding opportunities for students to engage with Spencer’s diverse collections in creative and meaningful ways.

Due to COVD-19, we are handling instruction differently during the Fall 2020 semester.

  • We can offer synchronous and asynchronous sessions, activities, and assignments.
  • We will focus on making use of Spencer’s digitized collections, at times supplementing these materials with digitized collections from other cultural heritage institutions. We may be able to scan limited additional materials specifically for individual instruction sessions.
  • We will need additional time to plan and prepare for online instruction sessions.

Students can still access Spencer’s physical collections in the Reading Room. This can be for a specific assignment (e.g. analyzing a primary source) or for larger research projects. Students can search for, identify, and request their own items. Or, we can work with an instructor to pre-select materials that can be put on hold for students over a period of time. All Reading Room users, including students, will need to follow guidelines for using library materials as well as established and new Reading Room policies and procedures.

Instructors who have worked with a Spencer librarian in the past can contact that person directly to schedule an instruction session for Fall 2020. Alternatively, instructors can reach out to ksrlref@ku.edu.

You can donate collection materials.

Please contact library staff by emailing ksrlref@ku.edu before dropping off or shipping a donation of collection materials to Spencer Research Library. Donors who have worked with a Spencer librarian in the past can contact that person directly.

We are not providing Friday guided tours.

Guided tours of Spencer's third-floor spaces will not be offered this semester.


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