Q&A on the new policy prohibiting drinking and eating in the Library

Due to increased rates of COVID-19, the Library has put a new policy in place that prohibits drinking and eating in all public spaces, except for drinking from water fountains and eating in Ex Libris Café in Regenstein Library.

Elisabeth Long, Interim Library Director and University Librarian, answers questions that have been raised since the policy took effect on January 6.

Q: Why was the new policy put in place? Why did the Library decide that a change was necessary?

A: As COVID-19 continues to spread at a concerning rate, we are taking measures to help reduce transmission among students and staff. Additionally, the City of Chicago has new rules that apply to dining establishments, and we are making a clear delineation between the Ex Libris Café, which will be following the new mandate for dining establishments, and the rest of the Library.

No drink, no food, no snacks icons

Q: How long will this new policy remain in effect?

A: We cannot predict how long the new policy will need to remain in effect. We will continue to evaluate the need for it as conditions and regulations evolve. Our primary goal is to keep students, faculty, and staff members healthy.

Q:  Can people bring and drink from water bottles?

A: The policy applies to any food or drink, including water. It is too easy for a water bottle to become an excuse to have one’s mask down. Students can certainly bring a water bottle, but they will need to take a break and go to Ex Libris to drink from it.

Q: Where does this policy apply?

A: At Crerar, Eckhart, Mansueto, Regenstein, and Social Work libraries.

Q: How will the new policy be enforced? 

A: We certainly want to start by encouraging all students to help us create a safe environment by following the rules! But if we do experience issues with compliance, we will follow the same procedure as with masking—requesting the patron to stop eating or drinking, or relocate to a space where eating and drinking is permitted, and if they do not, or if we see repeated violations, escalating the issue, first internally and then to the Dean of Students.