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Reimaging Libraries Spaces to Provide Essential Services for the Drexel Community

December 3, 2020

While temporarily closed to students, the Drexel Libraries’ Library Learning Terrace is taking on a new life as one of the University’s COVID-19 student testing sites.

The University recently approached the Libraries about repurposing the Library Learning Terrace as a COVID-19 test site when it began implementing plans to offer free coronavirus tests to all currently enrolled Drexel students in the nearby area.

“The Library Terrace is a perfect facility to quickly reconfigure for this public health purpose,” Jon Chase, Executive Director, Drexel Environmental Health and Safety, immediately observed when he saw the Terrace's central but separate location among several student resident halls. “It provides the space needed to scale up patient flow to meet forthcoming capacity demands and is ideally located so that residential students will not have to walk far across campus. With this configuration, students are easily separated from each other; coming in one door at the Terrace and exiting from another.”

Located in the heart of Drexel's student residential district, the Library Learning Terrace—during normal times—is a flexible informal learning environment that facilities self-directed learning. It does not have books or computers, but provides students with internet access, electrical outlets for mobile devices, mobile and stationary white boards, and a private hub station for tutoring or coaching by library and campus professionals. Flexible furnishings provide a variety of seating options for individual or collaborative group work.

“This is a great example of the Libraries’ flexibility,” said Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries. “The Terrace was originally designed as an innovative space for students to take ownership of their learning and to have flexible options to arrange how they study and work alone or in groups. When we designed the space, we never imagined it would be repurposed as a testing site during a global pandemic—a completely different purpose from its intended use as an informal learning environment for self-directed learning.”

With hundreds of Drexel students moving through the Terrace each day, using the informal learning environment as a COVID-19 testing site has created a unique opportunity for the Libraries to promote its resources and services to students, many who have been away from campus since last spring.

For one, the Libraries updated the digital displays set up within the Library Learning Terrace to include COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and information, as well as brief descriptions of the Libraries' current remote services, like online consultations, 24/7 access to information resources and interlibrary loan. New signage at the building exit displays similar information, serving as another reminder that the Libraries continues to offer resources and services during these uncertain times. 

The University is currently offering free COVID-19 tests for all Drexel students, including students who are learning remotely but live near campus. Currently, testing is offered in the Library Learning Terrace (3301 Race Street) and Myers Hall on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM by appointment only. Students interested in registering to be tested and do not have any symptoms, should use the following link to register and schedule an appointment: COVID19 Test Registration.