Residence hall library shines amid pandemic blues

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Cameron Krasucki

The Ikenberry Library sits on the second floor of the Student Dining and Residential bulding on Tuesday night. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the library has moved activities like their book club online as well as their checkout process.

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

After walking through the front doors of the Ikenberry Commons, students can hit the dining hall, grab something quick from 57 North or head upstairs for a coffee from the Caffeinator. One alternative that many students miss, however, is the Ikenberry Library.

The Ikenberry Library on the second floor of the Ikenberry Commons has seen better days in terms of visitor numbers, but the little library has made an effort to combat this lack of interest and provide a colorful and engaging environment for students. At the tiny desk waiting to greet any and all students is Laura Poulosky, residence hall librarian.

Poulosky said her librarian status and the responsibility of managing a library comes with highs and lows.

“I decided to work in libraries because I love reading so much and wanted to help other people gain access to books and other resources they need,” she said. “So after my time in the French Department, I got my master’s from the Library and Information Sciences School here.”

Some positives of working in the library, she said, include helping patrons find the perfect read or find resources for their coursework. She also said she enjoys working with colleagues who give their all to help students.

On the other hand, she has faced many challenges this year to protect everyone’s health and safety while working with a reduced budget.

“Nevertheless, we persist and serve our patrons the best we can,” Poulosky said.

Many go about their normal business at the Ikenberry Center, from the routine COVID-19 testing to package pick up. The Ikenberry Library can provide an entertaining and enjoyable detour from the standard day-to-day behavior.

“I like to think of our libraries like little bookstores where everything is free,” Poulosky said. “We feature new displays and bulletin boards each month to highlight different parts of our collections. During non-COVID years, we hold various outreach activities.”

This year, library events have moved online to include activities such as book clubs. They have also coordinated “take— and— make” projects, some in collaboration with the Undergraduate Library. Poulosky said this provides students a creative outlet when they need a study break.

“We strive to welcome all patrons and to make people want to return and check out more of our great materials,” Poulosky said.

In combating this lack of interest, Poulosky makes note of many incentives and services offered by the library that one wouldn’t think of initially. The Ikenberry Library can provide much more than just Xbox 360 rentals.

“I’d like students to know how happy we are to give them access to our materials and also to help them learn how to access digital and print library materials from University Library and I-Share libraries,” she said. “Besides all the great books and media on display, we also have the following loanable technology available to check out, which is very popular: iPhone and Android chargers, external disc drives, HDMI cables and over-the-ear headphones.”

The Ikenberry Library aims to have longer hours next year and, if the pandemic subsides, offer in-person outreach activities again to let the Illini community know about the many great services it has to offer.

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