The UC Santa Barbara library began phase 2 of its reopening on April 26, allowing students to access an increasing number of limited study spaces as public health guidelines allow them to increase indoor capacity in a four-phase plan. 

The first-floor Mountain Side Paseo Commons and the first-floor Mountain Side North and South areas are now open at 25% capacity. 

Because of social distancing, all of the seats currently available are for individual study only, Hannah Rael, the library’s communications and marketing manager, said. Nexus file photo

The first phase of opening began March 29 when the Mountain Side Learning Commons on the first and second floors reopened at 25% seating capacity, in accordance with the County of Santa Barbara’s red tier status at the time. Santa Barbara County is now in the orange tier in the COVID-19 reopening framework, allowing for greater seating capacity. 

The library is instituting its four-phase plan “with the goal that by sometime this summer, we would be opening up the entire library so that by fall, things would be a bit more normal,” Alan Grosenheider, deputy university librarian, said.

In accordance with the seating capacity, up to 170 spaces will be available to reserve each day, and each user can reserve up to 20 hours per week on LibCal — UCSB’s online library reservation system. Reservations can be booked up to two weeks in advance, and booking is open at selected hours throughout the week except Saturday. 

Table seating and computer seating are available to all students, although instruction spaces are for graduate teaching assistants only, with four individual study areas open for undergraduate use. In addition to the seating available at select locations, a temporary adaptive technology center will be open for disabled students only, and there will be a lactation room available for nursing mothers. 

Because of social distancing, all of the seats currently available are for individual study only, Hannah Rael, the library’s communications and marketing manager, said. 

“Even if students are in the same household, you’re just going to be by yourself studying,” Rael said. “We know that maybe this isn’t that fun, but that’s what’s necessary for us to do right now to meet the county guidelines.” 

To utilize library spaces, students are required to have a seat reservation confirmation, their student Access Card or photo identification, a face mask and a green COVID-19 “Cleared” screening badge — which is received when students have completed the COVID-19 daily symptom screening test and have a negative COVID-19 test within the last seven days. 

When exiting the library, students are required to check out by scanning a QR code at their station — if a student checks out before their designated checkout time, the remaining time left will be added back to their weekly 20-hour limit. 

Outdoor study spaces will also be available, including Mountain Side GO Tables that are solar-powered with lights and plug-ins. 

Rael said she is excited to see the library reopen for students again.

“Just to be able to have the library open again, even in a small capacity … it’s encouraging to know that we’re starting to get back to that place where we can be the hub in the heart of the UCSB campus,” she said.

Like Rael, Grosenheider is excited about reopening the library to students in phases and hopeful for the campus experience to return to normalcy. 

“Just seeing the students back in the building made me really, really happy,” Grosenheider said. “I know that the folks who have been working towards this [reopening] are just so pleased to have the students back in the building.”


Asumi Shuda
Asumi Shuda (they/them) is the Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Shuda was the Deputy News Editor, Community Outreach News Editor for the 2022-23 school year and the 2021-22 school year and an Assistant News Editor during the 2020-21 school year. They can be reached at or