Fall Semester Updates

You’ll notice some big changes around Swem this semester – for the health and safety of the campus community. In order to keep everyone as safe and well as possible, here’s what to expect when you visit us this fall.


Navigating Swem 

  • Hours: Check out our new hours for the fall semester. 

  • Visitors: For the health and safety of the campus community, only current W&M students, faculty and staff may enter the libraries. We are working on options for the Williamsburg community to access our collections.

  • Face coverings: As with all areas on campus, face coverings must be worn at all times. If you forget your mask, we will have spare ones available. 

  • Physical distancing: Visitors and staff will maintain a physical distance of six feet from each other at all times. We have placed floor markers in some areas like the Circulation desk to indicate where it is safe to stand.

  • Reduced foot traffic: All appointments, consultations, and meetings are online for fall semester. We count entrances to the building and will monitor those numbers to ensure a safe capacity. Check out our current occupancy online as well as check the availability of our computers

  • Entrance and exit: For the fall semester, the front entrance is for entering the building only. Signage will guide you to the exit by the Botetourt Theatre on the ground floor of Swem. 

  • Stairwells and elevators: Stairwells and elevators are one way only and have signage to indicate whether they are for moving up or down.  

  • Cleaning supplies: Use our cleaning supplies, spaced throughout the library, to clean your study station and computer before each use. 

Studying in Swem 

  • Read & Relax spaced out to create a physically distant environment

    Food: Please eat outside of the building in order to keep Swem as safe and sanitary as possible. Food is not allowed inside Swem. Drinks are allowed, but please keep your mask on when not drinking.

  • Open study areas and computer labs: Our open study areas are de-densified to make sure desks and chairs are six feet apart. Check out our current occupancy online as well as check the availability of our computers

  • Study rooms: Our study rooms are available, but only two students can be in a group study room at the same time. Please wear your mask while in the study rooms, even if you're alone.

  • Media Center

    • Media Center workstations, collaboration booths and studios are available as well as equipment loans. Please make your reservations online first.

    • The Production Studio and both screening spaces are not available this fall.

    • The Media Center desk will not be open for walk-ins, but you can make an appointment with us for Zoom consultations, chat with us online, and email us. For updates, please visit our guide.

  • Makerspace: The Makerspace is open, but only one student can be in the room at a time. A Makerspace assistant will be outside the room to provide help. You can also visit the Makerspaces at William & Mary website at makerspaces.wm.edu to schedule an appointment to use the equipment.

Finding and checking out items 

  • Finding materials: All of the stacks are open and browseable. Please be mindful of your distance when looking for items. 

  • Copying and Printing: Printers and copiers are available. 

  • Circulation desk and item check-out: Please use the floor markers to maintain a safe distance when waiting in line at the Circulation desk. We installed plexiglass shields at the desk for added safety. The self-checkout machine is also available by the Circulation desk. 

  • Quarantining returned items: Health guidelines recommend quarantining our materials for 96 hours before they can be checked out again. Some items may not be immediately available if they were just returned. 

  • Headphones and chargers: Bring your own office supplies, headphones, and chargers, as we won’t be able to loan those out this semester. 

Additional Services 

  • Course Reserves: We have transitioned to electronic reserves for the fall. Health guidelines recommend a 96-hour quarantine for things like books and DVDs, so we are unable to provide in-person reserves. Instead, you can request titles of e-books and films required for your course, and we will try to license them for digital access. 

  • InterLibrary Loan: Borrowing and lending of physical items begins August 10th with some limitations since not all libraries everywhere have reopened their ILL. Virginia academic libraries and ASERL (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries) are lending. 

  • Document Delivery: Delivery will be available. We are currently working out a schedule.

  • Book Delivery for Remote Students: If you are studying remotely this semester, we can mail books from the Libraries to you. Find out more about our book delivery service and other resources for remote students.

  • Digitization: We are digitizing requests for course reserves, interlibrary loan, document delivery, and Special Collections. We have increased staffing for digitization to anticipate an increase in demand, and are prioritizing requests for teaching and learning at W&M. Please be patient if we take longer than usual for personal requests. 

  • Click & Collect: Click & Collect is available all fall to get books and DVDs without needing to visit the stacks – just request what you need through the catalog and pick them up later by the Circulation desk. Equipment pickup is available in the Media Center from 10am - 2pm, Monday - Friday. 

  • Research Instruction: All library instruction will be provided online.  We can offer both synchronous sessions over Zoom and asynchronous learning modules. 

  • Appointments and consultations: We will provide virtual assistance through phone, email, live online chat and more in-depth research consultations by phone or Zoom. 

  • Special Collections: The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) reading room will be open to faculty and students by appointment only from 10am - 4pm. Please request an appointment two business days in advance. SCRC will also provide research assistance through phone, email, live chat, and Zoom. Instruction sessions will be accommodated remotely throughout the fall semester. We will digitize materials upon request to facilitate research and instruction. All requests for research appointments, instruction, and digitization should be sent to spcoll@wm.edu. Materials in Special Collections that are already digitized and available online can be viewed in the Digital Archive


  • Current periodicals and newspapers: There will be limited access to current periodicals in the library. Health guidelines recommend a 96 hour quarantine for materials like these, so we are unable to leave them out for reading. Most newspapers can still be accessed online through our databases page, including current newspapers like the Washington Post, New York Times, Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, Virginia Pilot, and Richmond Times Dispatch. We can also scan individual articles from current periodicals upon request. 

  • Kanopy: To help control costs this fall, we ask faculty to request films from Kanopy from their library liaison. The full Kanopy catalog is available, but we can only approve films that will be used for course instruction. You can learn more this decision on our website. 

  • HathiTrust: Our emergency access to HathiTrust expires when the library reopens. Hathi provided temporary online access to copyrighted materials that we have in Swem, but were unable to lend earlier due to the COVID lockdowns. Now that the library is open, we will not have access to those materials online, but they will be available in our stacks for check-out or Click & Collect. You can still use HathiTrust to search for open access materials. 

  • Government information: To make more study space available in Swem, we relocated our government document collection that was next to Read and Relax. Part of the collection (A-JU) is available on the second floor of Swem, and the remaining collection (L-Y) is stored in the library and can be requested if needed. Many government documents are available to anyone online for free in repositories such as govinfoHathiTrust, the Internet Archive, and individual government agency websites. W&M users have additional access through ProQuest Congressional. In support of the move, we’ve also deselected some documents.  

Building Partners 

For the most up-to-date information on these services in Swem, please visit their websites. 

  • Academic Advising: All consultations are online for the fall. 

  • PrintShop: The PrintShop will be operating as normal. 

  • Center for GeoSpatial Analysis: The CGA has de-densified their spaces but will otherwise be open as normal. Computers are still available for work. 

  • Aromas: Aromas will be open this fall. Please consume beverages and food from Aromas before entering the main library.

  • TutorZone: Tutoring sessions for the fall semester will be online via Zoom. 

  • Writing Resource Center: Consultations will be online for the fall semester.