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VIVA: Member Spotlight: Ferrum College

Virginia's Academic Library Consortium

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Transformation through Pandemic: 

Ferrum College


December 4, 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 libraries, a large portion of our collections were already digital, we had long-provided chat reference, and had recently upgraded our proxy server, so we were in an excellent position to serve the needs of students and faculty as Ferrum College moved rapidly online in the spring. Library staff created a COVID LibGuide and created an Online Tutorials LibGuide to centralize previously created material for ease of use. Over the summer, faculty librarians had the opportunity to take the same online teaching certification course as teaching faculty, which helped us understand the challenges faculty were facing in transitioning to online or hybrid courses.

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

  • First and foremost, the staff at the Stanley Library were 100% on board with whatever needed to be done to serve our campus. Previous decisions to purchase flexible seating allowed us to rearrange library furniture quickly, while still retaining a welcoming environment. One clearly pressing need was to enhance our streaming media and primary source collections. The Library, with the support of campus administration, negotiated a large package from ProQuest which included Academic Video Online, an expansive collection of primary source materials, and RefWorks, all of which supported the transition.

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

  • Library staff are very interested in engaging students, which proved to be more challenging this year because social distancing rules prohibited congregating in the library. One particularly popular activity last year was our Victorian love letter escape room. This year, public services staff created an entirely online Banned Books Escape Room on the LibGuides platform.

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

  • A large part of Stanley Library’s ability to deliver adequate resources online was due to the deep discounts negotiated by VIVA over the years, and they continue to investigate additional collections to support Virginia higher education through the pandemic. In addition subscription resources, VIVA staff and committees provided information and created guidelines around COVID-19 which was invaluable. They also coordinated many virtual meetings for library directors and those responsible for collections or resource sharing activities that were vital for generating ideas and, frankly, for maintaining sanity.