Even as library staff were getting settled in Sturges, and students and faculty were getting used to the temporary library “situation” brought on by the discovery of asbestos in Milne, news of COVID-19 was catching the attention of the world—and the campus. By the beginning of March 2020, unprecedented shutdowns were taking place throughout the United States and the rest of the world and across all sectors of society, including academia. On March 5, 2020, President Battles sent a message updating the campus community about preparations being made on campus, urging everyone “to remain calm as we learn more about..Read more and view photos
The week of March 9, 2020 brought a flurry of messages from the President, Provost, HR, Campus Communications, CIT, and other offices, as well as the Governor, SUNY, and our unions. All led to the same eventuality—the campus would be transitioning to all-remote learning after the spring break, and students should plan on not being able to return to campus. Libraries started preparing for transition to electronic delivery, limiting collection access, services, and resources to be online-only.
On March 12, 2020, Alana Nuth, the Library’s head of Collection Management reminded faculty that educational videos were available to stream from Films on Demand and Academic Video Online, which the Library subscribes to. Alana and Bill Jones, our Digital Systems & Electronic Resources Librarian, also fully switched our collections to be electronic or online-only.
The campus was closing down. The morning of Tuesday, March 17, 2020, was the last time library staff gathered for a meeting in Sturges. Immediately afterward, staff packed up their work things, completed the necessary forms for working from home, and left. For the remainder of the spring semester, at least, the Research Instruction, Collection Management, Information Technology, and Administration units would transition entirely to remote work.
During the Remote Learning Period (Spring 2020 Semester), the Library would continue to provide access to journal articles and books that could be delivered electronically, via its Information Delivery Services (IDS). Due dates were extended for books that had been borrowed, either from Milne or from other libraries via IDS, prior to the campus closing.
As an alternative to in-person research help drop-in hours, Research Instruction librarians provided research help services to students and faculty using virtual chat and the Library’s Ask a Question form, a service that directs patrons to submit a question which would be answered via email. Students were still able to meet face-to-face with librarians for more involved research consultations, but the meetings would be conducted virtually. Initially, Google Hangouts or G-Chat were the options offered, because students had access to these platforms without the need for any new technology. Not long afterward, when the College purchased a “deluxe” Zoom subscription,..Read more and view photos
Research Instruction librarians, along with the rest of Geneseo’s teaching faculty, prepared to make the switch to remote instruction. CIT provided webinars, tutorials, guides, and other assistance for getting up to speed with Canvas, Zoom, and other technologies useful for teaching online. Our Library IT/Web Services Developer, Leah Root created Zoom Asynchronous and Synchronous options for Library Instruction requests in our custom Library DataPortal web application and database system. Library Instruction continued in this mode through the Spring and Fall 2020 semester.
On March 20, 2020, the Library’s head of Collection Management notified faculty that, for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, Milne Library would be purchasing electronic books and streaming access to films rather than print books or DVDs, and included a link to a purchase request form for titles the Library did not already have access to.
Library ITS set up a separate Answers Queue for students asking how to return books, and posted method returns on our website and social media. The book drop bin, located outside Sturges Hall, was closed on March 22, 2020. It would be reopened on May 13, 2020, to accommodate students returning to campus in pre-scheduled time slots to move out the rest of their belongings—and hopefully return borrowed library materials. Access Services staff began coming periodically to campus to empty the bin and put the books into quarantine in Sturges.
The Library was still in its temporary location in Sturges when the Fall 2020 semester began. Most of the staff were still working from home, but some—notably, Access Services staff—were spending part of their time working in Sturges (it was a “hybrid” semester, after all). Even though limited, there was a small physically circulating collection available (the flagged books and items), electronic versions of items were available, and instruction and consultations were ongoing.
The Library still held events, though entirely virtual. Our Library collaborated with the Anthropology Department to create a Student Virtual Art Gallery exhibit in August 2020. Our Library Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity committee held an online Human Books series in September 2020, interviewing students and members of the campus community with diverse backgrounds. We also held our annual Geneseo Authors celebration virtually, with congratulatory videos from our Provost and President in November 2020. We created a site displaying published works by faculty, staff, and students from 2020, including links to the works’ DOI and online access.
Meanwhile, over in Fraser Hall… Plans for renovating the third-floor space were finalized and crews began the work of transforming the place into a proper library, one that would aim to provide all the services students were used to (including an on-site café!) as well as adequate workspaces for staff. In December 2020, library staff began moving out of Sturges and into their Fraser Hall space. Units coordinated their moving days with each other, again to minimize contact, but also to avoid too much competition for the boxes, book carts, and elevators involved. Historically, Fraser Hall was used as a..Read more and view photos
Students returning to campus at the start of the Spring 2021 semester were welcomed to the “new” Fraser Hall Library. The books were still in Milne, and seating capacity was limited (COVID!), but students came just the same—some to access reserve materials, some to seek research help, and many to study in the bright, cheerful space.