By Melanee Terry
Every college student should have the opportunity to study in a safe library during a pandemic and Roger Getz of the University of Maine at Presque Isle has been fulfilling those opportunities. The university’s library, located in the Center for Innovative Learning, has seen a lot of changes since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Due to the work done by Roger and the rest of the team in the CIL, the library is open and available for students as they navigate college during a stressful time.
Roger Getz is the Director of Library Services for the CIL and is the manager for the entire building. He completes many administrative tasks for the library including budgeting, purchasing and operations. Roger responds to student and faculty requests for research, ensures access to collections, and instructs all information literacy sessions.
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused Roger’s job to change tremendously. The library was one of the first offices at UMPI called back to work during the summer. Just like the rest of the world, Roger and the other CIL employees are required to wear masks, socially distance, and follow other COVID-19 protocols.
“I try to be aware of how close I am to students and other employees and set a good example. I meet more often remotely with students seeking assistance instead of in person,” Roger said.
When the CIL opened during the summer semester, there were some drastic changes done to the building. The library is only allowing one person per table to encourage social distancing. Hand sanitizer and disposable masks are available if students would like to use them. The third floor is closed to prevent unnecessary traffic. Tutoring and the Writing Center are also working remotely.
Adapting to this new COVID-19 lifestyle has been difficult for everyone including Roger. As the manager of the building, Roger likes to be a role model for others. He does not like reminding students to wear a mask or socially distance, but knows the importance of maintaining a safe and healthy environment.
“It has not been easy. I want the CIL to be full of students with a lot of collaboration on the main floor,” Roger said.
As a central area on campus for UMPI students, Roger knows the significance of creating a positive work environment for them. He enjoys the students on campus and every interaction he gets with them. Roger is an active member on campus and he does everything he can to support students in their endeavours.
“We have the best students I have ever worked with, by far. I like to think that I have a good relationship with students. I try to go to sporting events and support student groups and organizations,” Roger said. “I thoroughly enjoy instructing in the University Experience program and like assisting students with research.”
Before the pandemic, Roger would attend every UMPI event or activity he could. Due to the health risk of large crowds, there haven’t been any social gatherings on campus. Roger misses the social experience he gets working at a small and friendly university.
“I miss all of the social aspects of working at UMPI. The picnics, athletic events, and social engagements are part of what makes UMPI a great place to work. We are a family here and I miss spending that time together,” Roger said.
The CIL is a building used by many other UMPI offices. Adapting to the pandemic has not only been hard on Roger, but also the other employees who work in the CIL. Tutoring and the Writing Center are completely virtual, but they are still meeting clients remotely and providing the same services as they used to. The Student Support Services Office is still working hard assisting students with their needs, even if it has to be remote at times. IT Services has spent their time converting classrooms to be more technology friendly. IT’s work has allowed many in-person classes to become hybrid. The entire building has put in extra work so that students can continue their education.
“I am very fortunate to work with wonderful people in the CIL. Everyone realizes that we are in this together and we genuinely care about each other,” Roger said. “We make sure to follow protocols to maintain a safe and healthy environment.”
Despite the uncertainty of the Coronavirus, Roger is hopeful for a better future. The CIL was able to safely reopen in the summer because of Roger and his fellow coworkers in the building. Without their teamwork and collaboration, the CIL would not be safely available for students at the moment. Roger and the entire CIL team have demonstrated exactly what it means to be a hero on UMPI’s campus.
“UMPI is one of the few universities and colleges to be experiencing growth through the pandemic,” Roger said. “Our leadership has done a great job keeping our focus on the well-being of our students and not deterring from our mission. Clear objectives keep you on course through tough times.”