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University stages photo shoot with skeleton in empty library as ‘he waits for campus to reopen and students to return’

A Las Vegas university is making people smile after staging a photo shoot with a figure well-known to students and alumni at one of its empty libraries on campus.

The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) is one of many universities across the country that have transitioned to online learning amid coronavirus pandemic. With students and most staff still home, UNLV officials decided to stage a photo shoot with Mandy the Skeleton, who is known to help students “prepare for anatomy and physiology exams.”

In a Facebook post on Monday, UNLV Libraries shared the pictures.

“Mandy has a lot of free time on his hands since the COVID-19 pandemic sent the campus into a remote instruction mode. Here’s a peek at how he’s spending his days, following social distancing guidelines and wearing a mask out in public, as he waits for campus to re-open and students to return,” the post reads.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the post has been shared at least 6,000 times, with messages from commenters who said the pictures brought a smile to their faces.

“He looks good for his age,” one person noted.

“I love these. What a perfect laugh. I keep thinking of the person taking the pictures. I bet they were having fun and laughing,” someone else commented.

“These are the best….thanks for the laughs,” a commenter said.

Maggie Farrell, the dean of UNLV Libraries, tells Yahoo Life that as the school has made the transition to online learning in March, they have tried different ways to keep students, staff and faculty “engaged, and energized.”

“Humor is one way to connect in a stressful time,” she says. “This photo project seemed like a unique way to let students know we miss them and are supporting them during this time, while also giving them something to laugh about.”

Aaron Mayes, who took the pictures of Mandy, works as a curator for visual materials in the library’s Special Collections and Archives department. Mayes tells Yahoo Life that the idea for photo shoot came from Sean Kennedy, who is the director of communications at the library.

Mayes hoped this could bring joy during this uncertain time.

“I have been working on a photograph collection for future researchers showing Las Vegas’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he says. “Those images can be a bit depressing. Being able to create something completely different, something humorous, something that can make people smile and laugh, if only for a minute, made it worth the effort.”

Mayes notes that the response to the pictures has been positive and has helped to connect students and the rest of the UNLV community.

“Some have noted the places in the library they can’t wait to get back to enjoying,” he recalls. “Others remember using Mandy while finishing their studies. We’ve had requests for Mandy to be greeting students when we reopen. And, surprisingly, Mandy has fans now from all over the world. My favorite comment though is one that just says, ‘Miss you Mandy!’ It reminds me that good libraries are not buildings, they are places for people to connect, learn, grow and laugh.”

Farrell hopes this gesture shows students to know how much they mean to the school and its resident skeleton.

“We hope students know how much we miss them and we are thinking of their academic and health needs,” she says. “And that Mandy will welcome students back with joy with his skinny outstretched arms when it is safe to be together again.”

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