Guideline UL-ADG07 Procedures for Short-Term or Emergency Closures – Commonwealth Campus Libraries

Main Policy Content


  • Purpose

  • Introduction

  • Staffing Levels

  • Guidelines for Employees

  • See also


The following outlines procedures for making temporary and emergency decisions to close Commonwealth Campus Library (CCL) buildings or halt on-site library services for a short period of time due to situations such as weather emergencies, HVAC or building issues, and pandemic or other emergency situations that lead to a shortage of staff. This model may also be appropriate for library service during winter breaks and other holidays.

In the event of a long-term (typically, more than 24 hours) emergency, staff and faculty should consult with the Associate Dean for Commonwealth Campus Libraries and their campus administration for additional guidance.

Generally, when the campus is closed due to weather, the library will also close, per HR Guideline UL-HRG09 Guideline for University Park Weather-Related/Emergency Campus Closures and Delays – Library Response.


Occasionally severe weather conditions, HVAC and building conditions, pandemics, staffing issues, or other unplanned circumstances will require a campus library to close, operate shorter hours than usual, or halt on-site library services. This document provides guidance to campus head librarians who are compelled to make decisions on closing that fall outside of official campus closures.

The staffing models below consider the safety and well-being of library faculty, staff, and students. Generally, Library full-time faculty and staff are not designated essential university personnel and such employees are typically not required to report onsite during a campus closure, except in extenuating or emergency situations.

The decision to close or shorten hours will be made by campus library heads.


Ideally, Commonwealth Campus Libraries buildings should be staffed by no fewer than two employees at any given time. These two employees can be full-time faculty or staff, or part-time staff, or student employees. However, because staffing levels are often lower at campus libraries, it may not always be possible to meet these requirements. Full-time faculty and staff, as well as part-time staff hired specifically to supervise the library building in evening and weekend hours may staff the library alone at the discretion of the head librarian. Students should always work with at least one other student or full-time employee. Head librarians may choose to collaborate with campus partners to cross-train people to check out books at the library desk or to watch the space, if plausible. If adequate staffing levels cannot be met, then the head librarian may make the decision to close the library building.


If a Commonwealth Campus Library closes prior to the normal posted closing time, the head librarian or staff must post appropriate signs. Posted information should include the reason for closing and anticipated time to resume business. The head librarian or staff should send the updated hours to so the Libraries’ websites can be updated and PRaM can post the updated hours in social media. In addition, the head librarian or their assignee should contact the appropriate person in campus administration as a courtesy, to determine the best communication plan for sharing the information with the campus community.

Example sign:

"Due to staffing shortages, the XX Library will be closed until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, MM/DD/YY. Please check the Library’s website for updated hours information. Please contact <email> for questions related to library services."


Reduced Staffing Procedures – Pattee and Paterno Libraries, University Park Campus

University Park Campus Cancellations and Delays – Library Response

Weather Emergency


Effective Date: September 13, 2022

Date Approved: September 12, 2022

Last Review Date:  September 12, 2022