Academic Libraries are Responding Creatively to the COVID-19 Pandemic

01 Jul 2020 4:14 pm

Academic Libraries are Responding Creatively to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed many college and university libraries around the world, but this doesn’t mean that librarians and information specialists haven’t been busy¾nor helpful. If anything, the pandemic has placed them in even greater demand as they contribute in ways both expected and perhaps not-so-much.

We salute all the librarians at institutions of higher learning who are stepping up to the challenges of these unusual times. Here’s just a tiny sampling of what some of these academic heroes are doing. In future posts, we’ll share how other services and departments on campuses around the globe are creatively responding to the pandemic.

Making the Most of Maker Spaces

Academic libraries around the globe are using the 3D printers in their maker spaces to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare heroes on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle. Among the libraries doing this are the National Library and the School of Robotics in Klaipedia, Lithuania as well as the one sat the University of Montevallo and Troy University in Alabama. Also in the U.S., Columbia University is sharing designs so any library or home-based hobbyist with a 3D printer can help produce much-needed PPE.

Libraries Helping Libraries

Is there anyone better than the librarians themselves to collect data about how academic libraries are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic? Of course not. This is exactly what the librarians at the University of Illinois System Urbana-Champaign have been up to.

As Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, the system’s coordinator for information literacy services and instruction, said in their news release, "People are looking to best practices in the field, but also to what actions their colleagues and peers are taking and how they are thinking about this." So they have been collecting and updating data about COVID-19 and academic libraries and posting it online here.Similar programs are underway in other countries, including France through the auspices of the French University Librarians’ Association.

Capturing the Moment for History’s Sake

Some academic universities are ensuring that this unique moment in history is captured for future generations to study—and perhaps to pick up some tips on how to survive months of social distancing. For instance, the University of Iowa is curating a collection of stories that provide glimpses into life during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Cal State San Marcos, a similar project is called, “Together/Apart: The COVID-19 Community Memory Archive.” These experiences aren’t just being captured via written stories but also by videos, voice recordings, photos and more.

A University Library Helping High Schoolers

With so many students of all ages forced to attend classes virtually, there are likely more people than usual who could use some help with research, writing papers and the like. The University of Minnesota’s library runs a Peer Research Consultants (PRC) program in which students who excel at research, writing and the like are available to help those who need assistance. Due to the pandemic, the library has extended this offer to high school students in its state. The library reports that their PRCs are three times busier than during this same period in 2019. Yet another occasion of libraries to the rescue!

For more pandemic news and data, be sure to check out the COVID-19 Quick Searches Nexis® Uni has prepared right on your Nexis Uni homepage.Simple click to run and identify meaningful insights surrounding COVID-19.

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