Clifton M. Miller Library reopened to students at limited capacity

By Erica Quinones

News Editor

Washington College students returning to Chestertown are under no impression that campus will be the same as they left it; however, the staff at Clifton M. Miller Library are working to create a space which, while different from previous semesters, can continue serving students in their academic endeavors.

The Miller Library has visibly changed from semesters past to accommodate COVID-19 safety procedures. The main floor is inhabited by distanced study tables and computer desks. The tables are set in rows with one chair per table, facing away from each other. The computer desks are set in circles with green walls between each desk, plexiglass barriers hung between them.

By the windows facing Martha Washington Square sits three group study pods with chairs, forming distanced circles.

The remaining computers in the Newlin Room are also available through reservation. Every other row of computers is available with one empty seat separating each space.

Each desk and computer space is numbered, which denotes the first change that students will encounter when returning to the Library — entering it. 

Students who wish to use the Library’s study spaces must register for a timeslot and desk.

After making a reservation, students can only enter Miller Library through the main entrance. 

In previous years, students could use the alternative entrance through Sophie’s Café. While the café is open to students through its outside entrance, the inner door which opens into the Library will be locked throughout the semester.

The entrances were decreased to assure Library staff can screen each student, according to Dean of Library and Academic Technology Mary Alice Ball. According to a sign in the front entrance: anyone entering the building must wear a mask over their mouth and nose, display their green Emocha badge, present their student ID, and tell the circulation desk clerk their reservation number in order to claim their spot.

Students who do not comply will have a CARES report about them submitted. Students who become “belligerent” will have Public Safety contacted regarding them, according to Ball.

While students are asked to remain on the main floor, if they require access to resources on the top floor or in the basement, they may make an appointment to do so. 

An appointment to access the archives can be made by contacting Director of Archives and Technical Services Lindsay Sheldon at Students who need to make an appointment to visit IDEAWORKS should contact Director of Digital Media Services Brian Palmer at

However, not every resource in the Library requires a reservation. 

With the new printing kiosks unavailable for the semester, Miller Library staff made a black and white printer available on the main floor without a reservation, for now. All printing will be free this semester; however, if a student needs color printing, they can email the document to UPS. 

Instructions to contact UPS can be found on a paper beside the printer.

The Library staff are still considering how to handle Miller Library’s largest resource: the books.

Because books can carry COVID-19 on their surface, browsing the stacks is not possible. However, students can check out books by finding their required source on the Library’s website and clicking the “Request item for pick-up” link. Staff will then prepare the book and contact the student who may receive their package at the circulation desk.

Students can then return their books at the book drop in the circulation desk or at the back of the Library. 

The books will be quarantined before becoming available for checkout again.

Currently, book pickup is only available to students who are on campus or around Chestertown. Staff are still discussing the best way to deliver physical resources to remote students and ensure those resources will be returned to the Library.

Another changed resource is Inter-Library Loan. Digital ILL will be available to every student regardless of class year; however, ILL requests for physical books are only available to seniors and faculty.

Not every question about how the spring semester will function is answered, and some processes are sure to change. However, the Miller Library is ready to open for returning and new students.

The Clifton M. Miller Library will be open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Featured Photo caption: The Clifton M. Miller Library reopened with a new layout and procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its walls. Elm File Photo.

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