Cabell, Tompkins-McCaw libraries to reopen under VCU, Va. COVID-19 guidelines

James Branch Cabell Library will reopen with occupancy limits on Aug. 3, according to a release from VCU Libraries. CT file photo

Andrew Ringle, Executive Editor

VCU Libraries will reopen before the start of the fall semester with limits on building occupancy and physical distancing requirements, according to a university release.

Laura Gariepy, associate dean for research and learning, said in the release that additional details will be announced “as soon as possible.” Gariepy is directing VCU Library’s reopening plans.

“While some decisions have yet to be finalized,” Gariepy said, “we’re ready to share an overview of our current plans for restoring on-site services and reopening our buildings.” 

Tompkins-McCaw Library will open July 27 with occupancy limits in accordance with COVID-19-related guidelines from the university and the commonwealth. In VCU’s plan for reopening, libraries are restricted to one-third of code occupancy.

James Branch Cabell Library will open Aug. 3 with similar occupancy limits.

Books and other media are available to VCU students, faculty and staff for free front-door pickup and on-campus delivery through the library’s website. Those services began July 6, despite the ongoing building closure.

According to the release, all returned items will be “quarantined” for three days before reentering circulation. 

“Based on our research, circulating books are a very low-risk category in terms of the virus’s survival on surfaces,” librarian Nora Bloch said in the release. “But in an abundance of caution, we will quarantine all items returned for three days before they can be checked out again.”

Materials reserved for academic courses will be limited due to this measure. For more information on course reserves, email or visit this university webpage

Building operating hours during the fall semester will be posted on the VCU Libraries homepage when hours are set, the release stated.

Details on reopening VCU Libraries

  • Cabell and Tompkins-McCaw libraries may be limited to those with VCU ID cards upon reopening.
  • Face coverings will be required inside.
  • Some furniture will be removed or blocked off to maintain physical distancing.
  • A majority of the public desktop computers, 60-75%, will be unavailable to public use.
  • The university will sanitize library spaces, focusing on high-use surfaces such as door handles, handrails and bathrooms.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers and wipes for cleaning up workspaces will be provided in both library buildings.
  • Some study rooms will be closed, but most will be available for reservation at a reduced capacity.
  • VCU Libraries will not host public events during the fall semester.
  • Starbucks and the IT Support Center in Cabell are expected to reopen with the buildings or shortly after with preventative measures.

The Workshop at Cabell Library is “exploring” ways to make its resources available for remote use on both campuses, the release stated. The basement space is home to high-end computers capable of 4K video editing, GIS computations and 3D modeling. 

VCU Libraries continues to offer digital resources and online services, including research consultations, librarian-led instruction and more, at

This article was updated to include the correct email address for questions about course reserves.

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