BYU closes library area due to lack of mask compliance

Library staff members have posted signs and caution tape on the doors and windows of the reading room in the Harold B. Lee Library. The area was shut down Tuesday, Dec. 15, and will not reopen until Winter Semester (Andrea Cabera)

BYU closed the reading room in the Harold B. Lee Library on Tuesday because of non-compliance with the university’s mask policy.

The area will be closed until the start of Winter Semester and “plans are in place to close other areas if necessary for the safety of library patrons and staff,” according to the HBLL’s Twitter.

BYU spokesperson Todd Hollingshead said the decision was made by the library administration in consultation with the academic vice president’s office. 

The area isn’t the first to be closed off due to patrons’ refusal to wear masks. The map section on the second floor was closed the second week of November. Library staff attempted to encourage mask-wearing with stickers, signage and other messaging, but it appears their efforts were futile.

Social media users have criticized photos of the library featuring little to no mask-wearing on the part of students.

BYU freshman Ernesto Valencia works in the HBLL and confirmed that mask compliance has been an issue.

“From what I have seen working at the library, it’s very few people who actually comply with the mask policy,” he said. “When we need to call out people — as it is part of our job — there have been many patrons who are incredibly rude.”

Responses to the closure of the reading room have been mixed. Some individuals have decried it, such as one Twitter user who called it “Overreaction Tuesday.” Many students have questioned how closing down one section of the library will affect mask compliance in the rest of the building.

“I understand the decision and why it was taken (I’m all for protecting others via mask-wearing), but I want to know: how is the HBLL going to manage these students that refuse to wear a mask who will now be in different parts of the building?,” BYU graduate student Calvin Westfall said on Twitter.

Library communications manager Roger Layton did not immediately respond to the Daily Universe’s request for comment.

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