Nearly 2,000 learn about the Drexel Libraries During “The Impact of Emergency Distance Learning on the Library” Webinar
May 4, 2020
On April 28th, Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries, participated in a panel discussion with three other academic library leaders across the country to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their institutions and measures they are putting in place to provide remote support for students, faculty and staff.
Other panelists included Dennis M. Swanson, Dean Livermore Library, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke; Timothy Jackson, Resource Sharing and Fulfillment Program Manager, SUNY Shared Library Services; and Elijah Scott, Executive Director, Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative.
During the event, panelists spoke about their existing programs and services that support remote teaching and learning, lessons learned thus far, and how they are planning for the eventual return to campus.
Danuta Nitecki kicked off the panel by discussing just a few of the proactive steps the Drexel Libraries had taken that are now making it easier to support the Drexel community remotely.
“[For one,] we have been moving away from collection building—purchasing and housing physical materials– for several decades, gravitating to increasing our licensed access to electronic resources so students, faculty and staff can access from wherever they are,” Dean Nitecki explained. “Plus, Drexel University has a long history of online learning, and the Libraries already has evolved the delivery of our services and support through hybrid venues… These strategies have prepared us to continue to support remote teaching and learning” during the pandemic.
The other panelists shared similar stories about the importance of providing e-resources and utilizing library management systems to ensure their clients can access the materials they need for research and coursework while physical campus locations remain closed. Elijah Scott reflected how existing hurricane disaster planning helped librarians in Florida to have some strategies in place for major disruptions.
When asked about the future, the panelists agreed that returning to campus will be a unique challenge. Institutions are currently examining social distancing practices to implement once college and university campuses are allowed to reopen, and librarians are already compiling user feedback on what remote services work and what might be missing to help inform their plans and services for the fall term.
All four panelists emphasized the importance of supporting their staff during this stressful time.
"It's vital to remember that the library staff are going through this, just like everyone else. Librarians are people, just like everyone else,” said Dennis Swanson. “Taking care of the library staff—making a point to step away from projects and meetings for a few minutes and ask staff how they’re doing—is one thing I’ve really learned from this.”
Each panelist was asked how they kept going during these stressful times. Responses included adding cans of refried beans and diced tomatoes as weights to their morning stretch exercises, focusing on helping others, hiking whenever possible, and hitting a ball against the barn wall.
The panel discussion was sponsored by Library Journal and Ex Libris, a ProQuest Company. Over 50% of the 3,600 people who registered for the free webinar signed onto the live discussion and generated over 150 questions. Others can listen to a recording of the webinar, now available online.
Since last week, each of the panelists have reported that they have received emails with compliments and further questions from audience members. These included questions about Drexel Libraries’ strong investment in licensing e-resources, as well as its matrixed organization structure.