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Written by Allison Nitch
April 28, 2020
Image credit: Yosef Kalinko
While Seattle U classes continue remotely, Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Commons remain an invaluable resource for current students by providing access to librarians, innovative e-resources and an all-access pass to tools and information through its institutional memberships with Orbis Cascade Alliance (OCA) and the AJCU Virtual Reference service.
“The library is key to online learning success,” says Sarah Barbara Watstein, dean of Lemieux Library and OCA board member.
“While the library building is closed due to COVID-19, library faculty and staff are working exclusively by remote access to provide expert help and online services to support and advance remote teaching and learning—they’re available by chat, text, email and phone,” she says. “Library faculty and staff are committed to supporting coursework and research needs. We are still here!”
Although Summit and physical interlibrary loaning are temporarily suspended, a variety of library services and resources are available to remote users. Students can “attend remote workshops, use self-paced research, writing tutorials and more,” Watstein says.
OCA is a library consortium consisting of 38 members in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. As its site describes, it serves academic libraries through a shared library management system and discovery interface, works on collective purchasing, facilitates access to unique and local collections and coordinates resource sharing.
In response to COVID-19 OCA stated, “As our member libraries grapple with the current pandemic, the Alliance remains as responsive and supportive as possible through any restrictions its member libraries may face.”
The AJCU Virtual Reference service provides online assistance to students, staff and faculty of Seattle U and other participating Jesuit institutions 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the service’s use of the LibraryH3lp software platform. Each participating school provides librarian staffing hours, based on each institution’s full-time enrollment.
“To respond to the need to expand our services virtually this quarter, ‘on-call’ chat services are staffed by Seattle U library faculty and trained student peer research consultants (SPRCs), Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., and on Fridays, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m.,” says Chris Granatino, interim director, Research Services.
Outside of those hours, chat questions are answered by participating ACJU librarians and professional librarians hired by Chatstaff, ACJU’s contracted back-up 24-7 librarian-staffing service.
In addition to chat, Lemieux Library faculty also provide an enhanced consultation option specifically for Seattle U known as Zoom with a Librarian. “We talk about the need to ‘meet students wherever they are’ and now we’re discovering how far that reach extends,” says Caitlin Plovnick, coordinator of Teaching and Learning.
The library strives to provide flexibility in scheduling these one-on-one consultations. “We recognize everyone will have different schedules, so if you need a consultation later in the evening or on a weekend, we will do our best to meet you where you are,” says Granatino.
Appointments can range from 20 minutes to an hour. “Librarians are leveraging the features of Zoom to allow individuals to record the session, activate closed captioning, share links and even screens to help troubleshoot or highlight any technical issues that might arise,” Granatino says.
Other services provided through Lemieux Library McGoldrick Learning Commons this spring include the Learning Commons Partners (LCP), which have extensive “academic support resources available remotely to students for the duration of this quarter,” says Mickey Rayment, coordinator, LCP.
Students have access to tutoring, study groups, writing help, research help, math assistance and more. “Departments have been working hard in creative ways to continue to provide these services and there are plenty of opportunities available,” says Rayment. (For more details, visit the Student Support Center.)
“I miss seeing students in our classrooms and study spaces, but I’m glad we’re still able to connect online and provide dedicated support for research and information literacy,” says Plovnick.
For campus members facing difficulties in connecting virtually, Lemieux Library provides 40 mobile hotspots and offers more than 90 Chromebooks to borrow during the spring quarter, in collaboration with Information Technology Services and the Campus Store.
Doug Eriksen, director of Library Systems, Technology and Media shares some of the grateful responses the library has received from borrowers:
“Thank you so much for supporting students during these difficult times! Doing online coursework can be really difficult without access to a proper laptop.”
“Also, for the internet connection problem … we were able to upgrade it to a more stable connection. However, I really want to thank you for all your offer and help to settle this. I understand this is a difficult time for all of us, but I really appreciate that the university tries really hard to help us.”
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