Six librarians gave brief presentations on the challenges we face in changes of services and procedures during COVID.
The closures felt like a crash landing. We asked vendors to hold shipments, streamlined workflows to let people pass data electronically, and revised our acquisition plan to accept e-books only. New ordering channels to accommodate vendors of streaming video, etc. were set up. Vendors offered trial subscriptions. Shifting to electronic only will have a long term effect because e-books are more expensive than print ones.
The pandemic accelerated what we had already started doing to improve the user experience. We helped campuses identify cancellations, established online access to resources, identified overlap in collections, and targeted high-demand items to make procurement more efficient. We are centralizing access to OA journals. Initiatives are necessary to continue access to needed resources. We shared collection building.
We increased production of digital learning objects and developed instruction models for students on finding information for papers, how to find it, and database search strategies, which were very effective. We created new videos, models, libguides, and websites. PCs were loaned to students for an entire semester, and fines were waived.
We had an increase in videos and learning guides on using library resources from home, so we created 15 new videos. New content has resulted in increases in viewing. We also helped faculty members move courses online, which helped to increase our responsiveness to faculty and remove some of their anxieties. We assured them that we were available remotely during shutdown. Finally, we helped people locate OA and free resources.
We formed a crisis team to help the community and built access mechanisms to archives and collections. Our focus was on helping as fast as possible. We launched a website for libraries and ran webinars, worked to ensure access is available anywhere, helped people not affiliated with the university, and expanded access as the crisis kept on. We formed a partnership with our community, not the vendors, and understood their pain. A 3 year price freeze for access to collections will have a long lasting impact and will be felt by the community.
Much copyrighted print material is used by our users so we issued a statement on how Fair Use applies to remote information. We provided temporary access to materials that would normally be used from the collections. We help libraries connect with faculty to get materials for their courses. Fair Use is an option even though originally there was no time to plan and acquire licenses, but we can use Fair Use it now because the Copyright Clearance Center issued a specialized license to us. We still need copyright permission for materials being shifted to digital, so we are encouraging the use of OERs.
The Q&A portion of the session addressed two main topics:
- What is and will remain challenging?
- How has a paradigm shift restructured how academic libraries function now and in the future?
The main topics included clarification of values, organizational culture, attention to timing regarding communications, assessment evaluated with a change to the focus, and definition of roles and responsibilities.
Don Hawkins blogs about conferences for Information Today and Against The Grain (ATG) and writes about conferences in his ATG column “Don’s Conference Notes”. He also maintains the Conference Calendar on the Information Today website and is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, published by Information Today in 2013, and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits, published by Information Today in 2016. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked in the information industry for over 45 years.