COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

General Information and Hours

The Libraries continues to support the Mason community through a hybrid model of in-person and virtual offerings, with extensive electronic resources, including virtual workshops, instruction sessions, research consultations, and virtual reference service. As with the rest of the university, the Libraries has adjusted to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic and services may change at any time as needed.

Library Facilities

Access: Masks are required to enter library facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Signage is posted to indicate the university's Safe Return to Campus guidelines, 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. All who visit the Libraries should be prepared to show the results of their daily COVID health check.

Stacks: As of Monday, August 16, 2021, the stacks are reopen for in-person browsing, though patrons are still welcome to utilize our online request system if they prefer. Circulation requests may be made via your Library Account. If you encounter difficulty placing your request, please email fencirc@gmu.edu.

Study Spaces and Computers: To promote physical distancing and follow university guidelines, some tables, carrels, workstations, and chairs were removed or marked out-of-use in each library and building capacity was limited. As we begin the Fall 2021 semester, these spaces may change and capacity numbers have been increased. We continue to offer individual study rooms for use by reservation, and we will open up some group study rooms for reservation as well. For those who prefer a distanced space, please visit Fenwick Library's 5th floor study space which has been designated for this purpose.

Furniture: The furniture in each library location has been moved and spaced to allow for appropriate distancing. With the start of the Fall 2021 semester, the amount of distanced space will change as furniture is returned from storage. We ask that you not move or rearrange 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.

Check our hours page for the most up-to-date information, holidays, and exceptions for each library location - Fenwick, Arlington, and Mercer.

Retail dining location updates, hours, and current safety protocols may be found on the dining facilities page of Mason's Safe Return to Campus site.

Spaces and Safety

Mason Libraries are open to Mason students, faculty and staff, and community members.

As of Tuesday, September 7, 2021, the Libraries once again welcomes Passport Program participants and other community members to resume in-person visits to library facilities.

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 and other protocols.

Effective August 11, 2021, face coverings are required for all individuals on campus when in indoor spaces, including all library facilities, whether or not they are vaccinated. See the President's message for more details.

The university can provide face coverings to employees and students if they need one.

  • Students can go to the Student Involvement Office in the HUB, Suite 2300, or to the Information Desk in SUB 1 to get a mask.
  • Employees should contact Environmental Health and Safety to request a face covering.
  • Masks are also available for purchase in Mason Bookstores and in vending machines on campus.

See face covering guidelines here.

Yes. As of September 7, 2021, our Passport Program has restarted, and participants are welcome to resume in-person visits to the Libraries.

As of Monday, August 16, 2021, the stacks in Fenwick Library, Arlington Campus Library, and Mercer Library are open for in-person browsing. If you prefer, you may still submit borrowing requests via your Library Account and have the item retrieved for you. 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) may have alternate access guidelines.

Single-occupancy and group study rooms are available for reservation.

To allow for appropriate distancing and safety protocols, the Reservable Graduate Writing Spaces program is currently suspended in Fenwick Library. The study carrels on the fifth floor of Fenwick have been designated for those who prefer a distanced study space and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Study rooms remain available for short-term reservation.

Dissertation Writing Rooms are available in the Arlington Campus Library - interested applicants must fill out a request form.

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. Please continue to wear face coverings at all times (unless actively 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

As of Monday, August 16, 2021, you may visit our library locations to browse the stacks and check out books.

If you prefer, you may continue to utilize our request system and have items retrieved for you. 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 or other designated area.
  • 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 has shifted to an electronic-first service that now operates on the Leganto platform. Faculty may request materials and organize their reading lists via Leganto. 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.

After pausing our TextSelect program for the 2021-21 academic year, we will resume services for Fall 2021 on a reduced basis.

As of Monday, August 16, 2021, visitors may access the Fenwick Library stacks, including the physical Government Documents collection.

Visit our U.S. Government InfoGuide for resources on finding items available electronically or e-mail Kim MacVaugh, Policy and Government Librarian, with questions.

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

*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

 

If you have a concern about your library account, please contact fencirc@gmu.edu for assistance.

Interlibrary Loan is able to request physical books, periodicals, newspapers as well as scans of articles, chapters, and sections. In some instances, we can request e-books but please note that not all libraries are able to share e-books at this time.

To place a request, please fill out the Interlibrary Loan request form. If you have a desired format, please indicate so in the request form. Electronic materials will be delivered to patrons’ ILLiad accounts.

The Interlibrary Loan Department will pursue all options in an attempt to secure requested materials. If there are any issues with a request, we will contact you to explore access options. 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 varies by institution. Please check the WRLC Library Status page for updates. If you need an item from one of these locations, please explore our interlibrary loan options.

Due Dates and Fines

If you are unable to return your items or if you have any questions about your account, due dates, or potential fines, please contact fencirc@gmu.edu.

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 the Mason Libraries Search (e-Books, articles, etc.) or the Mason Libraries e-Books guide. Have more questions or can't find something? Ask a Librarian.

 

As of Monday, August 23, 2021, the lab is open Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. We will increase lab hours at the beginning of October, as conditions warrant. Consult the DiSC calendar for current operating hours.

If you are concerned about using the lab in-person, or are unable to visit campus, 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 has been reduced and access is 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

Both asynchronous and synchronous online instruction is available. Face-to-face instruction is at the discretion of individual librarian-faculty partnerships.

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, please contact Brittney Falter instead of using the form above.

Note for DiSC: If you are interested in Digital Scholarship Center instruction options, 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 has shifted to an electronic-first service that now operates on the Leganto platform. Faculty may request materials and organize their reading lists via Leganto. 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.

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

Effective Monday, August 23, 2021, University Records Management's (URM) full services are available for the Fall 2021 term. If you need to store or request records from the University Records Center, you will need to attend training in order to use the new Infolinx Database system. Workshops for Infolinx are listed on the URM website, and registration is required. The University Records Center is nearing capacity, so we do ask for patience as we work to clear out space for incoming records.

Please visit the Records Management site for up-to-date information or e-mail recmgt@gmu.edu with any questions.

Reference Services and Research Consultations

Contact your subject librarian to request a research consultation or schedule an appointment. Virtual or in-person meetings may be determined at the discretion of the parties involved.

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

  • As of Monday, August 23, 2021, the Digital Scholarship Center Lab is open Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Please consult our calendar for the current hours. We will increase lab hours at the beginning of October, as conditions warrant. If you are concerned about visiting the lab in-person, there are many virtual options. Contact us at 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 may also offer in-person instruction depending on availability and staff preferences. Please email datahelp@gmu.edu describing your needs and we will make arrangements.
  • All DiSC workshops will be available virtually. Visit the workshop schedule to find out more.
  • DiSC staff will be available for virtual and in-person consultations. Consult our scheduling page to make an appointment.

Effective Monday, August 23, 2021, SCRC will offer:

  • walk-in hours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • appointment-only hours from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (though appointments may also be scheduled for the morning hours as needed).

Appointments must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. To make an appointment to visit SCRC, please contact speccoll@gmu.edu.

Reading Room capacity is limited to four researchers in accordance with social distancing requirements. Face coverings are required for access to the Reading Room.

SCRC staff are available to assist with off-site reference support via e-mail at speccoll@gmu.edu.

If you are interested in SCRC instruction for your 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.

Note: All policies are subject to change.

As of Monday, August 23, 2021, SP@RC will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to assist Mason community members through both virtual and in-person consultations and workshops. In addition to synchronous in-class or online poster design workshops, SP@RC can provide and support a research poster design Blackboard module to be embedded in your course. For consultation requests, poster printing, or One Button Studio access, please email sparc@gmu.edu.

Note: Hours and policies subject to change, as conditions warrant.

University Dissertation & Thesis Services

Yes. UDTS has suspended in-person appointments, 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 and Final Submission deadlines are posted on the UDTS website.

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

All plans to offer in-person events and group gatherings are contingent on public health considerations. Check our calendar and our news blog to find out what is available.

Check out our workshop calendar to see what workshops and instruction sessions are currently being offered and in what venue.