COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

General Information and Hours

The Libraries, as the rest of the university, will look different during the Fall 2020 semester.

Expanded Online Resources & Virtual Services

The Libraries will continue to support the Mason community through expanded electronic resources and virtual services, including virtual workshops, instruction sessions, and research consultations. We will also continue our expanded hours for our virtual reference service.

Library Facilities

Access: Access to any library location will be limited to Mason students, faculty, and staff. Signage will be posted to indicate the university's Safe Return to Campus guidelines - such as physical distancing, wearing face coverings (University Policy Number 1415), and other protocols - and those who do not adhere to the university's policies and guidelines may be asked to leave and may be subject to disciplinary action.

Closed Stacks: Circulation requests should be made via your Library Account, and the stacks will be closed for browsing. If you encounter difficulty placing your request, please email fencirc@gmu.edu. Requests for access to some collections (such as in our Special Collections Research Center) will be by appointment-only.

Study Spaces and Computers: To promote physical distancing and follow university guidelines, some tables, carrels, workstations, and chairs will be removed or marked out-of-use in each library. The number of people allowed in each library building will also be limited to allow for appropriate distancing. Some spaces and areas may also be closed. For example, group study rooms will be closed. Individual study rooms will be available for reservation.

Furniture: The furniture in each library location has been moved (or removed in some cases) and spaced to allow for appropriate distancing. Please help us all stay safe by not moving or rearranging the furniture.

Food and Drink: No food and beverages are allowed in library locations, with the exception of water in a closed container. Please help us maintain clean and safe spaces by not bringing in food or drink. Face coverings should be worn at all times, unless actively drinking.

Current Status Information

The Libraries will follow university and state guidelines. FAQs will be updated as plans are developed. Responses are based on Mason’s Safe Return plan and current information. Responses and available services are subject to change.

Fenwick Library

  • Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Sunday: Noon to 8 p.m.

DiSC, SCRC, SP@RC

  • DiSC - virtual services and consultations by appointment
  • SCRC - virtual services and consultations by appointment; in-person research by appointment only, Monday-Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • SP@RC - virtual services and consultations by appointment

Arlington Campus Library

  • Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Friday/Saturday/Sunday: Closed

Mercer Library

  • Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday/Saturday/Sunday: Closed

Virtual Reference

  • Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday: Noon to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday: Noon to 4 p.m.

Check our Hours page for the most up-to-date information, holidays, and exceptions.

 

Please note that Gateway Library is permanently closed.

 

Retail dining locations, including Argo Tea, will be open in Fall 2020 with modifications. The university continues to provide updates about dining facilities on the Safe Return to Campus site.

Spaces and Safety

Access to each library location is limited to Mason students, faculty and staff. Users who do not adhere to the university's polices and guidelines may be asked to leave and may be subject to disciplinary action. Signs are posted to indicate the university's Safe Return to Campus guidelines - such as physical distancing, wearing face coverings (University Policy Number 1415), and other protocols.

Our Library Passport Program is currently suspended. Access to the Mason Libraries is limited to current Mason students, faculty and staff at this time. All current passport holders will receive an extension of their annual membership term to compensate for the time the Libraries' facilities were unavailable to them.

Yes, the stacks are closed in Fenwick Library, Arlington Campus Library, and Mercer Library. Borrowing requests should be made via your Library Account. If you have difficulty placing your request, please email fencirc@gmu.edu. Requests for access to some collections (such as the Special Collections Research Center) are by appointment only.

To promote physical distancing and follow university guidelines:

  • Tables, carrels, chairs, soft seating and public workstations were moved, removed, or marked out-of-use in each library. Please do not move or rearrange the furniture.
  • Building occupancy is limited, and elevator capacity is modified. Please adhere to posted occupancy signage.
  • Group study rooms are closed in all Mason Libraries locations. Single-occupancy study rooms in Fenwick Library can be reserved.
  • In general, keep to the right on staircases and in hallways. Some pathways may be marked for one-way traffic only. Please adhere to posted directional signage.

Single-occupancy study rooms are available for reservation; group study rooms are currently closed.

Please visit the Libraries for individual study only. Library spaces are arranged to promote physical distancing per university and CDC guidelines. Please do not move furniture or gather in groups.

To allow for appropriate distancing and safety protocols, the Reservable Graduate Writing Spaces program is suspended for Fall 2020. The study carrels on the fifth floor of Fenwick will be available for use on a first-come, first-served basis each day for graduate students. Individual study rooms will be available for short-term reservation.

Maintaining clean and safe spaces is a priority - please do your part to help:

  • No food and beverages are allowed in any library location, with the exception of water in a closed container.
  • Face coverings should be worn at all times (unless you are drinking water).

Enhanced cleaning protocols have been put in place across the university. The protocols and cleaning schedule for campus buildings, including library locations, are available on the Safe Return to Campus website.

Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are available in each library. Patrons are encouraged to use the sanitizing wipes to clean table surfaces before and after use.

Circulation and Returns

To checkout a book or other physical item:

  • Use the library catalog to locate the item.
  • Login to your library account to place your request.
  • Library staff will pull the item, and you will receive an email when the item is ready to be picked up at the Information Desk.
  • If you encounter difficulty placing your request, email fencirc@gmu.edu for assistance.

Practice Safe Circ!

  • DON'T: Please do not microwave, bleach, or attempt to clean library items.
  • DO: Wash your hands after touching library items and before you touch your face. If/when possible, let items sit for 72 hours before using them.
  • STAYING SAFE: Trained library staff process all returned items according to current CDC and professional library standards.

Subject to staff availability and copyright limitations, we will scan journal articles, book chapters, microforms, etc., from the Libraries’ collection and send them electronically to students and faculty as requested. Please log-in to ILLiad to place any requests for physical items, chapters, articles, and scans. Check out our Media guide for multimedia materials.

Due to safety concerns during COVID-19 and to ensure accessibility for both our on-campus and online learners, Course Reserves will be an electronic-only service for Fall 2020 and TextSelect service will be paused. Physical materials on course reserve will not be circulating from the Libraries’ information desks. Faculty may request materials be made available digitally for controlled-student access via Course Reserves. All scanning services are subject to copyright limitations. Copyright permission will be sought where feasible in cases where the excerpt falls outside of fair use guidelines. Please contact ereserve@gmu.edu with any questions or concerns.

Access to the Fenwick Library stacks, including the physical Government Documents collection, is limited to library personnel. Visit our U.S. Government InfoGuide for resources on finding items available electronically or e-mail Kim MacVaugh, Policy and Government Librarian, to request assistance accessing items in the physical collection.

Returns may be made at any library location during our posted hours, or at our external book drops at any time:

  • behind Fenwick Library on the Fairfax campus*
  • in front of Van Metre Hall on the Arlington campus (at 3351 Fairfax Drive)

*The Fenwick Library exterior, drive-up drop box is located behind the library (building #22 on the campus map), on Chesapeake River Lane off of Patriot Circle. The drop box is in a turn-around area past the One Stop Shop in Blue Ridge Hall (4599 Chesapeake River Ln) and near the Dunkin' Donuts in Tidewater Hall.

 

If you are unable to visit us one of our locations, items can be mailed to the following address:

Access Services
Fenwick Library
4400 University Drive, MSN 2FL
Fairfax, VA 22030

Please note: we quarantine materials upon return for up to 6 days prior to handling, based on recommended best practices. Returned, dropped-off, or mailed materials may not be immediately removed from user accounts. If you have a concern about your library account please contact fencirc@gmu.edu for assistance.

Interlibrary Loan is able to request articles, chapters, and section scans at this time. Please fill out the Interlibrary Loan request form. Materials will be delivered to patrons’ ILLiad accounts.

We expect to be able to process and fulfill interlibrary loan requests for physical items with our WRLC and Virginia Research Library partners as libraries reopen this fall. While many libraries remain closed or are offering limited services during reopening, the Interlibrary Loan Department will explore all options in securing physical materials in addition to our scanning/electronic delivery services. We appreciate your consideration if our fulfillment service is delayed as a result.

Faculty, students, and staff are encouraged to contact the ILL/Document Delivery department at illloan@gmu.edu with questions or concerns.

On-site access privileges at WRLC institutions is currently suspended. Similarly to Mason, WRLC libraries are restricting access to their university communities at this time. If you need an item from one of these locations, please explore our interlibrary loan options.

Through the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS), current Mason students, faculty, and classified staff have full-view access to items in the Libraries' collections which match a digitized copy in HathiTrust. Read more about the HathiTrust ETAS program and how to access it here.

 

Items available through the ETAS can be checked out for 1 hour. If you are still actively looking at the book and no one else is attempting to check it out, the book will be renewed automatically.

 

Each institution participating in the HathiTrust ETAS has access only to the number of digital copies that match the institution's physical holdings. For example, if the Libraries holds only 1 print copy on the shelves, then only 1 user affiliated with Mason can access the digital book in HathiTrust at a time. Please be courteous, and return books as soon as you're done with them.

 

The Libraries is aware of the potential inconveniences of this system; however, our participation in the ETAS program provides access to approximately 350,000 titles digitally - which is crucial during the current pandemic and expanded virtual learning environment - that would otherwise be unavailable to those unable to come to campus.

 

For more information about the HathiTrust ETAS, see their FAQs.

 

Due Dates and Fines

All due dates have been extended through September 30, 2020. As of March 23, 2020, all overdue fines are suspended, including those for WRLC/CLS and interlibrary loan materials.

Questions about your library account, including any preexisting fines or fees, should be directed to fencirc@gmu.edu.

Electronic Resources and Technology

You can access your library account and other resources with your Mason NetID and password. For more information, visit our Off-Campus Access Guide.

Explore the Libraries A-Z Database List to find journals, newspapers, books, music, media and more. Also, try:

Have more questions or can't find something? Ask a Librarian.

 

There will be no physical access to the lab, but there are many virtual options. Contact datahelp@gmu.edu for assistance or visit https://dsc.gmu.edu/virtual for more information.

To accommodate safety and health protocols, the number of public computer stations available will be reduced and access will be limited. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to bring a personal computer/device at this time.   

The Libraries does not have a laptop lending program at this time.

Faculty and Instruction

The Libraries are offering online library instruction by default. This includes both synchronous and asynchronous instruction. You can request instruction at https://library.gmu.edu/instruction/request.

Note for SCRC: If you are interested in Special Collections Research Center instruction options for Fall 2020, please contact Brittney Falter instead of using the form above.

Note for DiSC: If you are interested in Digital Scholarship Center instruction options for Fall 2020, please contact datahelp@gmu.edu instead of using the form above.

Due to safety concerns during COVID-19 and to ensure accessibility for both our on-campus and online learners, Course Reserves will be an electronic-only service for Fall 2020. Physical materials on course reserve will not be circulating from the Libraries’ information desks. Students that may need a selection from a physical item on reserve may request to have that section scanned and made digitally-available for controlled-student access via Interlibrary Loan. Faculty may request materials be made available digitally for controlled-student access via Course Reserves. All scanning services are subject to copyright limitations. Copyright permission will be sought where feasible in cases where the excerpt falls outside of fair use guidelines.

Find OERs from a number of sources using the Mason OER Metafinder tool. For additional information on OERs, check out the Libraries' OER overview.

We have a robust website with on-demand video and static tutorials ready for you to embed or use in your Blackboard courses. If you don't find what you are looking for or would like to request a new tutorial, send an e-mail to delib@gmu.edu.

Yes! We have a variety of modules on different research concepts and for different levels of study ready to go. Many of our subject librarians are also trained in using Blackboard and can work within your course to create new material. You can find your subject librarian and their contact information on our Subject Librarians page.

For the most part, yes! Certain exceptions apply, especially with the use of media (films/TV shows/etc.). Please see additional information at our Copyright Guide for Online Classes.

Records Management

The University Records Management (URM) program is able to provide access to stored records via emailed requests on a case by case basis. URM will not be arranging box transfers to or from the Records Management Center, nor will they be able to provide boxes. Questions can be emailed to recmgt@gmu.edu.

Reference Services and Research Consultations

DiSC is available to assist Mason community members virtually. Visit Virtual DiSC to find out more about online consultations, software access, and more.

For the Fall 2020 semester:

  • All DiSC workshops will be available virtually. Visit the workshop schedule at dsc.gmu.edu/workshops to find out more.
  • The Digital Scholarship Center Lab will remain closed. Even though there is no physical access to the lab, contact datahelp@gmu.edu and we will work with you to provide you with options.
  • DiSC staff will be available to visit your class virtually and teach workshops virtually. Please email datahelp@gmu.edu describing your needs and we will make arrangements.
  • DiSC staff will be available for virtual consultations. Consult our scheduling page at dsc.gmu.edu/help to make an appointment and we will be in touch.

Currently, the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) remains closed. SCRC staff are available to assist Mason community members with reference support via email at speccoll@gmu.edu.

For the Fall 2020 semester, SCRC will offer virtual services and consultations. Research in the Special Collections Research Center Reading Room will be by appointment only. Notice of at least 3 business days prior to a visit is required. Masks and social distancing are mandatory for access to the Reading Room. Please note: materials will be quarantined after completed use by each individual for 72 hours.

To make an appointment to visit SCRC, please contact speccoll@gmu.edu.

If you are interested in SCRC instruction for your Fall 2020 classes, please contact Brittney Falter with questions about instruction options. SCRC staff will work with Mason faculty to assist in virtual instruction when possible for your classes.

SP@RC is available to assist Mason community members through virtual consultations and online workshops. Though in-class poster design workshops are no longer tenable, SP@RC can provide and support a research poster design Blackboard module to be embedded in your course or a synchronous in-class workshop via your preferred video conferencing platform. To schedule a consultation, request a class workshop, request poster printing, or for questions about Adobe software use, please email sparc@gmu.edu.

University Dissertation & Thesis Services

Yes. UDTS has suspended in-person appointments through December 22, 2020, but Coordinator Sally Evans is teleworking at this time and can be reached via email: udts@gmu.edu.

Yes. Please email UDTS Coordinator Sally Evans at udts@gmu.edu to set up a virtual/online appointment through your preferred platform (e.g. Skype, Webex, Zoom, etc.).

Yes; they’re proceeding as usual. When your document is ready for the Format Review, please email it to UDTS Coordinator Sally Evans at udts@gmu.edu. She will respond with any changes you may need to make.

The Format Review deadline is 5 p.m. on Monday, November 30, 2020. In order to be eligible to graduate in the Fall 2020 semester, you must receive an email from UDTS Coordinator Sally Evans on or by that date stating that your formatting is correct, and your Format Review is over.

The Final Submission deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, December 4, 2020. In order to be eligible to graduate in the Fall 2020 semester, you must turn in your Final Submission materials to UDTS Coordinator Sally Evans on or by that date.

All submissions will take place via email. Please contact UDTS Coordinator Sally Evans at udts@gmu.edu, and she will provide further information.

First, please check with your college/school/department to see if there are any existing protocols regarding the collection of electronic signatures from Deans, Directors, Department Chairs, etc. There may be internal procedures that can assist you.

UDTS will accept digital/electronic signatures as long as they look like actual signatures, as opposed to a box stating something to the effect of "I certify that I agree" or something similar.

The sign-scan-send (s-s-s) will also work, with this caveat: Signature Sheets can almost always withstand 1 round of s-s-s without issue. The second round may be fine, but after that, the chances that the Signature Sheet will warp and/or become "dirty" increase dramatically. Please use your judgment, and please be aware that UDTS will not accept a messy/unreadable signed Signature Sheet. S-s-s is usually fine for Embargo Request Forms, as only 2 people (at the most) will sign them. But, again, please use your judgment.

If you have any questions, please contact UDTS Coordinator Sally Evans at udts@gmu.edu.

Workshops and Events

In-person events or group gatherings are suspended until further notice.

Libraries’ workshops and instruction sessions will be offered virtually. Check out our workshop calendar to see what's available.