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VIVA: Member Spotlight: Emory & Henry College

Virginia's Academic Library Consortium

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Transformation through Pandemic: 

Emory & Henry College



December 2, 2020

Share a success story from your library’s shift online in response to the pandemic in the spring. How did your library change when campuses went online in the spring of 2020?

  • Like many VIVA institutions, we had to face the challenge of ‘What is a library without a library building?’ Answer: we are still our collections and services. We still needed librarians with expertise. (Who knew there would be so many questions about copyright and online course materials?) We still needed to add ebooks and streaming videos to the catalog. We still worked with students, just on chat reference and virtual research appointments instead of in our offices.

What are you most proud of in your library’s response to the rapid shift to online services?

  • As we have gone through these seasons of emergency-remote learning, preparing for an unknown school year, and operating with pandemic precautions in place, I am proud of the fact that we were well equipped and ready to respond. We had online collections and services already in place that we were able to direct patrons to and utilize in meeting needs. What we identified as ‘core’ operations were able to transition to working from home, then back to working with COVID precautions very quickly, when we were asked to do so. This put the library in a place to help and even anticipate coming needs with things like beginner Zoom training and electronic course reserves.

What is a creative solution your library staff came up with to meet users’ needs in this environment?

  • One of our challenges was how to deliver our library instruction program for faculty and students facing the challenges of online, remote, and hybrid courses. Our solution was to offer faculty the choice of asynchronous online library modules or synchronous online library instruction sessions. Faculty could choose the delivery method that worked best for their course and students still got the library instruction they needed. The online library modules were designed to deliver the same learning outcomes as the instruction sessions.

How did VIVA, either through resources or its collaborative network, support your community during the emergency switch to online learning? 

  • In addition to the support of the VIVA community in planning and adapting to dealing with COVID, VIVA came through for us in two big ways. The first was having important online resources like Films on Demand already in place, and the second was VIVA’s commitment to negotiating for member savings. With both of these, we knew going into the Fall Semester, that our library had the resources to meet our campus needs.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your library’s experience supporting and/or collaborating with your campus community in the spring?

  • We found that the key to pandemic operations on campus was collaboration, not competition. Whether it was who needed how many packs of alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer, to phone banking returning students to discuss Fall semester plans and needs, collaborating with colleagues across campus to meet department and student needs is the easiest way through this.