Van Pelt Library opens to the Penn community, visitors ahead of the fall semester in person


On July 19, the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center will no longer require individuals to make an appointment to browse library stacks or use self-service study areas. Bookable study areas can also be booked.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Penn Libraries are expanding access to the Penn community and outside visitors prior to the University’s in-person fall semester.

The Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center extended on-site access to Penn’s students, faculty, staff and outside visitors on July 19. Individuals no longer need to make an appointment or make a reservation to browse library stacks or use self-service. study areas. Bookable study areas can also be booked. Most other university libraries will reopen to the Penn community and visitors on August 16.

Van Pelt is open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Several of the Penn Libraries, such as the Penn Museum Library, remain closed.

Associate Vice-President and Assistant University Librarian Jon Shaw said Penn Libraries had been undergoing a phased, “evidence-based” reopening process since November 2020. He added that the decision of Expanding access to Penn Libraries over the summer was a response to an increase in visitor numbers as COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed.

While Van Pelt had around 1,000 of them during the college semester, Shaw said the library saw 1,000 using them just last week.

“There is a real need for access to the library,” said Shaw. “The need for libraries to have both a contemplative and collaborative space on campus is truly critical for the Penn community.”

Penn Libraries will continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines outlined by the University and City of Philadelphia, Shaw said. Penn Libraries recommend that vaccinated people wear masks indoors and unvaccinated people should wear masks both indoors and outdoors.

Penn Libraries will continue to offer “hybrid support” by maintaining many online library resources developed in the aftermath of the pandemic, Shaw said. The Penn Libraries Virtual Support page has links that allow students to communicate with librarians, access books and video content online, and use the Virtual Computer Lab, which offers the same software applications as computer labs on site.

“You have this whole range of options to use to interact with the library in a much more robust way than ever before,” Shaw said.

Shaw added that the pandemic has led Penn Libraries to discover new ways to “refine” and “streamline” resources to better accommodate students, faculty, staff and outside visitors in their learning and research. Penn Libraries are planning to introduce a new service called “Service Express” that would allow students to have books and library materials delivered to their College House dormitory, Shaw said.


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