The National Library Week 2020 theme is a variation on the original theme, find your place at the library, which the American Library Association quickly updated in light of the global pandemic. This is not the National Library Week we had planned. But as libraries pivot to continue serving their communities, even with their buildings temporarily shuttered, there is no more apt time to celebrate the essential institution of libraries.
McIntyre Library’s mission states that we foster learning and collaboration through our spaces, services, people, and resources. With the pandemic rendering our spaces temporarily inaccessible, McIntyre and Barron library staff demonstrate the adaptability and responsiveness that is the hallmark of libraries by ramping up virtual services. Here’s what we have been doing to support you at your place:
• We immediately extended the due dates of all check out materials, including laptop computers, to the end of the semester. We are working with libraries in the UW System and nationwide to extend due dates of materials borrowed through interlibrary loan. Though libraries across the country have ceased lending of physical items, interlibrary loan of online content remains robust.
• Library faculty moved information literacy instruction online. In addition to converting their own courses to online format, they adapted how they provide library instruction for other classes by participating as ‘embedded librarians’ in almost 40 online Canvas courses across campus. Librarians are creating and expanding their repertoire of online tutorials, videos, and training materials, all available 24/7.
• The libraries continue to offer one-on-one research assistance. We staff a live chat service more than 60 hours per week, and librarians are available to schedule virtual consultations via phone, Skype, or a platform of your choice.
• We are rapidly expanding online collections to support student, faculty, and curricular needs during social distancing. We are prioritizing the purchase of ebooks, and setting up access to expanded online resources that publishers and vendors are making temporarily available.
• The staff who curate our enticing books displays throughout the library building have moved their operation online, creating online displays featuring ebooks and streamed video content for leisure, professional development, or academic purposes. Follow McIntyre Library on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop.
• Special collections and archives staff have been busily digitizing content to ensure that those classes relying on access to unique physical content and artifacts can continue their study from home.
• Makerspace staff are offering online workshops using resources one might have available while sheltering in place. The workshops offer the opportunity to learn new skills or take a creative and restorative break from online learning and meetings.
• Library faculty and staff are partnering with others in the community to help during these difficult times. We donated N95 masks and nitrile gloves from our library emergency preparedness kit to a local hospital; staff are using the 3D printers in the Blugold Makerspace to make personal protection equipment for healthcare workers and first responders as part of a community effort; and staff are sewing masks. Recognizing the importance of documenting these historic times, we are partnering with the history department and the Chippewa Valley Museum to create and host a pandemic oral history and collection online archive.
Sheltering at home has given McIntyre Library an opportunity to showcase some of the virtual services it has long offered, and it is challenging us to develop new ones. Still, we look forward to getting back to campus, to seeing our students and colleagues, to opening the new Digital Studio, and to welcoming new and returning students to find their place in McIntyre Library. But for as long as it takes to keep everyone safe, McIntyre Library will continue to offer ways for you to find the library at your place.
Happy National Library Week!
Jill Markgraf, library director