When the campus transitioned to remote learning on March 23, the University Libraries sprang into action. Wasting no time, the Libraries eliminated fines and fees, extended due dates, and paused recalls for all loans to minimize the impact on students who were unable to return materials on time. Additionally, the Libraries collaborated with Information Technology Services to supply laptops and PCs to students in need of technology. By the close of business on March 20, the University Libraries moved to a completely virtual operation.
The hard work of the Libraries’ faculty and staff resulted in a seamless transition, with little to no interruption in services provided to the UAlbany community. The Access Services Department, for example, ramped up interlibrary loan delivery to provide electronic articles and book chapters to students and faculty.
Subject Librarians have also been busy, expanding the Libraries’ collection and assisting faculty by providing resources to their classes. “Since March 23rd, they have held 183 research consultations for faculty and students,” says Mary Van Ullen, Director of Collections. “While many research consultations were conducted via email, there was also an uptick in doing face-to-face virtual consultations.”
On the subject of the collections, Van Ullen adds, “There was an increased demand for streaming video resources, e-books, and access to electronic textbooks and these questions came through both to the Libraries’ Reference services librarians and to the subject librarians. Many e-books and streaming videos were rush-ordered for faculty. Fortunately, a number of textbook publishers made electronic versions of their products available to students at no charge for a limited time, so that they can access them for the remainder of spring semester, and our librarians helped many students navigate the process.”
The Reference Department worked just as diligently to field research consultations virtually. Librarians wrote an FAQ page directly related to COVID-19 impacted services, and they take questions over chat, phone, email, and by Zoom, a video conferencing software platform.