As with so many of our colleagues across the University, over the last couple of months (has it really been that long??) many University Library & Collections staff have been getting used to saying hello to each other through a computer screen, rather than over a cup of coffee in the staff room or across a desk at the start of the working day.
Whilst we miss our conversations with staff and students within our libraries and museums, and across university sites, we hope you’ve been making use of the range of expanded online services we’ve been able to offer over this period. This post offers a reminder of some of those services we provide, alongside a sneak peak inside some of our working-from-home lives.
As a team, many of us who are able to do so are working from home to keep our online services running, and to expand our offering to our staff and students. At the same time, a few key workers remain on site to protect and secure our valuable collections, and ensure sites remain safe pending our return.
Some of us have been lucky enough to enjoy the sunshine through kitchen windows, or in gardens of various sizes. Some of us have been locked in home studies, balanced on kitchen workbenches or re-purposes dining tables. Some of us have been multi-tasking, fielding online enquiry services whilst providing a human bed for cats and dogs, or little people of varying sizes (who, as time has dragged on in to May, on occasion are closer to feral monsters than the adorable cherubs of a pre-lockdown era).
Many of us are trying to look out for our colleagues, whatever their personal circumstances. In addition to keeping services running online (and developing new services as well!), staff from across the service have participated in Virtual Marathons (running, walking, cycling and watching all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films), online book clubs, Taskmaster challenges from our amazing Learning Team colleagues and sharing photos of our pets. Yes, its true; some Librarians do have cats.
In recent weeks, we’ve shared some of the experiences of colleagues and the work they have been involved with, whether that is:
- what a Faculty Librarian does from home,
- how the work of the Learning Team has changed with school and museums closed,
- previews of forthcoming online webinars from the Library
- how the enquiry desk has moved to an online only offering.
- Transitioning to 100% ebook purchasing.
And we’ll continue to do so, even as the University looks at how to approach a phased opening of buildings within a Covid-19 context (no, the Billy Bee is not open yet!)
But in the meantime, we wanted to give you a peak into some of our views each morning…
… as many of us get on with bringing the library into your homes, with services including:
- A new, live chat service launched on Monday 23rd March, manned between 9am and 5pm (our existing overnight chart support remains in place).
- An enhanced virtual help & information desk, with an amazing team of staff on stand-by to answer emails, tweets and messages
- This sits alongside a growing page of FAQs which will be available from Friday 26th March.
- Changes to our loan allowances (we’ve removed the limit of 10 renewals) and the waiving of fines on overdue items during the COVID-19 crisis.
- A significant increase in the availability of online resources, including a lengthy list of e-resources available on a trial basis (please give us your feedback!)
- Increased promotion of our viaDurham service, which significantly eases off-campus access issues for many of our journal articles.
- A re-focused website to make it easier to find resources and support – and this is just the start as work progresses on plans we hope to share with you later in the year.
- Faculty Librarians providing online consultation with subject and dissertation enquiries.
- Continuing support for academic colleagues on issues from reading lists through to open access funding and REF open access queries.
- Online webinars highlighting trial eresources.
- This blog, and our social media channels, where we aim to continue highlighting existing and new collections you have access to through your Library and Collections service.
This builds on existing services, and follows on from our short lived but well used Click and Collect service which ran right up until we had to close our doors. Even though we couldn’t help with the toilet rolls (remember all that crazy???), we tried our best to get you the books you needed before we were forced to close our (physical) doors.
So to all of you, wherever you are, keep in touch, do make use of the services we provide, let us know if things aren’t working (and please let us know when they are), and most importantly; take care of yourselves so that when we can open the doors to our buildings we can welcome you back with a smile.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring