Welcome to Mason Libraries – Fall 2021

Mason Libraries welcomes new and returning students and faculty to the Fall 2021 semester! We look forward to seeing you, and we are here to support your scholarly endeavors and to help you succeed in your studies, whether in-person or virtually. As we continue to inhabit a changing public health landscape, the best place to find out about our current services and any updates are our FAQs page, our Services Updates page, and our News blog, where we will communicate any updates or changes.

What to expect this fall

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 conditions warrant.

Hours: Our hours have been updated for the fall semester and may change if needed.

Library Access: Through Monday, September 6, 2021, access to any library location is limited to Mason students, faculty, and staff. Signage will be posted to indicate the university’s Safe Return to Campus guidelines, and those who do not adhere to the university policies and guidelines may be asked to leave and may be subject to disciplinary action. As of Tuesday, September 7, 2021, the Libraries will welcome our Passport Program participants and other community members to resume in-person library visits. All who visit the Libraries should be wearing face coverings and should be prepared to show the results of their daily COVID health check.

Stacks: As of Monday, August 16, 2021, the stacks have reopened for in-person browsing, though patrons are still welcome to utilize our online request system if they prefer via their 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 group study rooms for reservation as well. For those who prefer a distanced study space, please visit Fenwick Library’s 5th floor study space which has been designated for this purpose.

Furniture: With the start of the Fall 2021, the amount of distanced space will change as furniture is returned from storage. We ask you that 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.

Further information about circulation, reference, and research services: Please review our current FAQs.

Health & safety protocols

Current status information

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

General information on library services

Mason Libraries provides free 24/7 access to thousands of online resources for Mason faculty, students and staff – just use your Mason NetID and password. Visit library.gmu.edu to discover what the Libraries offer to support and enhance your learning, teaching, and research at Mason. Highlights include:

Questions? Please contact us at any time.

FRAME II awarded $1,175,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

“Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education II” awarded a $1,175,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

By law, any material required for the education of a disabled student must be made accessible for them in a timely manner. In the United States, the legal obligation to provide accessible learning materials falls on individual educational institutions, and universities and colleges across the country are scrambling to meet their responsibilities to students with special information-access needs. The staff of disability services offices (DSOs) spend a great deal of time and effort remediating printed texts, transforming them into a variety of electronic formats to improve access for students with print disabilities. Because many of the same texts are commonly assigned at multiple institutions, the result is a wasteful duplication of effort as the DSO staff at each independent university must start the remediation work over again.

For the last two years, the University of Virginia Library has led a multi-institutional project to address this problem. With a two-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, University Librarian John Unsworth initiated an effort to create a web-based infrastructure allowing DSOs to share remediated texts, in order to reduce their nationwide duplication of effort, and thereby make it possible for the staff in these offices to achieve better outcomes for students in higher education.

That collective effort, known as “FRAME,” will now continue for another two years and expand to include new partners, thanks to a grant of $1,175,000 from The Mellon Foundation for a second phase dubbed “Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education II.” Representatives of the DSO and library staff at Ohio State University will join their counterparts from George Mason University, Northern Arizona University, Texas A&M University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Virginia, along with a development and project management team based at the UVA Library. Much of the group’s work will concentrate on expanding and improving EMMA (Educational Materials Made Accessible), a membership-based secure repository for remediated texts, and developing workflows wherein librarians and DSO staff will cooperate in uploading texts to the repository.

“For too long, most academic libraries have left accessibility to their colleagues in disability services, even though it is all about providing information resources for teaching and research. The FRAME project seeks to establish a partnership between libraries and disability service offices, to ensure that remediated content is preserved, organized, and made discoverable for re-use, reducing the duplication of staff effort in order to improve service to students (and faculty) with disabilities,” states Unsworth, who is continuing his role as principal investigator from the first FRAME grant.

Also continuing to support the project will be three major digital repositories: Bookshare, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive. Through a federated search interface, these repositories provide EMMA users with texts that have already been remediated for users with print disabilities or that are machine-readable and suitable for further remediation by DSO staff — a big advantage over having to scan a printed book. Benetech, the parent company of Bookshare, supplied much of the search infrastructure for EMMA in the first phase of the FRAME project and has committed in the second phase to sharing certain cutting-edge technologies to automate parts of the labor-intensive remediation process. In the second year of FRAME II, an additional repository will join the collaboration: the Accessible Content e-Portal sponsored by the Ontario Council of University Libraries.

Another important element of the project is the cooperation of the university presses affiliated with six of the participating universities: George Mason, Illinois, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wisconsin. As publishers of texts that might be used in higher education, the presses have all committed to contributing machine-readable versions of their publications to EMMA or one of its federated repositories.

John Unsworth is joined by FRAME II co-principal investigator J. Stephen Downie, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences. Professor Downie will lead a new educational initiative, developing curricular materials for professional education in library schools. The materials created by Downie and a team of expert collaborators will train library and information professionals in the information needs of students, faculty, and other library users with disabilities. Professor Downie states, “It is truly inspiring to be working with all the project partners at Illinois, Virginia and beyond to realize the promise of the FRAME II vision.”

Read more about the project’s beginnings in 2019 and Mason’s involvement.

Library faculty recognized at Celebration of Teaching Excellence

Maoria Kirker and Wendy Mann were recognized at the 2021 Celebration of Teaching Excellence today, an annual event hosted by the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning at Mason.

Maoria Kirker, Lead of the Teaching & Learning Team at the Libraries and adjunct faculty with the Honors College, received the Adjunct Teacher of Distinction Award. Teacher of Distinction commendations are awarded based on an instructor’s teaching innovation and excellence, commitment to their students, and mentorship activities, among other qualities. To read more about Maoria’s accomplishments and recognition from her students and colleagues, click here for an article written by Mariam Qureshi, Honors College Writing and Reporting Intern (and one of Maoria’s students).

Wendy Mann, Director of the Digital Scholarship Center, received the Distinguished Library Faculty Award. The Distinguished Library Faculty Award is awarded to a library faculty member in recognition of their professional accomplishments, embodiment of the Libraries’ organizational values, and support of the Mason scholarly community. To read more about Wendy’s accomplishments and recognition from her peers, click here for the Libraries’ announcement.

Students helping students: new Re:Search podcast

A new podcast from the Teaching and Learning Team’s Peer Referral Coaches has launched!

Have you ever thought, “I know the Library exists, but how can they help me beyond accessing books?” Then the Re:Search podcast is for you! Join us every Thursday for a new episode.

If you need help navigating the library website, want research tips and a focused look into various services, or just want to learn more about the resources available to you through the University Libraries, this podcast will share helpful information and tips for our Mason community.

You can learn more about the podcast here, and you can subscribe to the podcast on SoundCloud here.

Interested in learning more about our Peer Referral Coaches? Peer Referral Coaches (PRCs) are academic student employees hired by the Mason Libraries’ Teaching and Learning Team to assist in carrying out various research activities, providing peer-to-peer research assistance, facilitating library and research workshops, and more! You can meet our current group of coaches here.

Welcome to Mason Libraries – Spring 2021

Mason Libraries welcomes new and returning students and faculty to the Spring 2021 semester! As our environment continues to look different this year, know we are here to support your scholarly endeavors and to help you succeed in your studies. The best place to find out about our current services and any updates are our FAQs page and our Services Updates page, which we update regularly.

What to expect this spring:

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 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, and other protocols – and those who do not adhere to the university policies and guidelines may be asked to leave. Our hours have been updated for the spring semester and may change if needed.

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 have been 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, while 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.

Health & safety protocols:

Current status information:

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

General information on library services:

Mason Libraries provides free 24/7 access to thousands of online resources for Mason faculty, students and staff – just use your Mason NetID and password. Visit library.gmu.edu to discover what the Libraries offer to support and enhance your learning, teaching, and research at Mason. Highlights include:

A few updates on library subscriptions and services: