Libraries & The Pandemic Response: A 3-part Client Story Series

We took the opportunity to revisit three libraries that we had previously featured in Client Stories — three years ago. We discussed their handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the challenges it brought to their doors. While we were not at all surprised by their commitment to providing the best possible service under the ever-changing circumstances, we were thrilled to learn about the ways Springshare tools help them as they navigated those days, these days, and the days ahead.

Here are some highlights from each of the Client Stories in the series.

York County Community College Tackles It All

As she recalled the days when closing their doors was looking imminent, Amber Tatnall, the Associate Academic Dean who oversees the YCCC Library said,

During the beginning of March 2020, we had two weeks lead-time to go fully online. I knew Springshare was going to be our saving grace.

The library is a Springshare Suite client and has been building LibGuides since 2010. They, therefore, felt comfortable with the switch. Amber shared that “Library instruction sessions continued through that first online semester, using Zoom and featuring our ready-to-rock-and-roll library guides.”

New to their strategy was implementing LibChat.

Once they had it up and running, Academic Dean, Doreen Rogan shared the team’s sentiments, “We are very grateful we were able to pivot so quickly and really not miss a beat when it came to supporting students in the Library.”

The YCCC Library team found themselves with a lot of new projects on their plates brought about by the pandemic closure. They immediately started putting LibCal and LibWizard to use to check them all off the list. Amber shares just a few of the areas they addressed:

  • Counseling and Wellness – We were very mindful that mental health and wellness was going to be a challenge during this time, so we went full Springshare with intake forms and document submission through LibWizard, a new resources guide, and an appointment maker with our counselor through LibCal.
  • Disabilities Services – ditto went full Springshare with accommodations requests and document submission through LibWizard.  Security settings on the Springshare back-end allowed us to protect and wipe sensitive student data for both of these areas.

Academic Affairs used LibCal to register faculty into just-in-time workshops to learn how to teach online, with follow-up evaluations in LibWizard.  The platforms are so easy to use and so professional-looking.  No one would have guessed at the mild panic behind the scenes as we worked to prepare over 100 instructors to teach online in two weeks!  LibGuides for faculty were a great place to house online how-tos, video tutorials, best practices, and other useful documents.

Amber Tatnall

To learn more about all the terrific work the YCCC library did to ensure a successful school year for their students and faculty, read their Client Story.

City, University of London Closed Doors But Kept Communication Open

We published a Q&A style Client Story with Derek MacKenzie, Head of User Services at City Library sharing details about their library’s experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown in London. Excerpts follow:

Q: Can you share your story about when your library learned it would have to close its doors?

A: It was becoming clear from late February into early March 2020 that things were moving fast and that the Summer term was going to be quite different.  But the University’s decision to close (just ahead of the government shutdown) was still a bit of a sudden one.  

As we’d been using LibChat for six years, we had every confidence that we could continue to run that service remotely.   LibAnswers was a bigger leap of faith though – we had several different shared email accounts being used by various teams to engage with users and respond to their queries.  At the start of 2020, we set ourselves a target of flipping this over to LibAnswers by the summer and getting all our incoming emails routed there to improve how we handle enquiries and give us a more efficient way of passing these on to colleagues and monitoring progress.

Derek MacKenzie

Derek elaborated , “We had just started mapping out how we would do this – in a gradual and cautious way, as librarians tend to do. Then with lockdown looming, we decided we had to jump quickly so within a few days our User Services team and our amazing Systems Librarian managed to get queues set up and instructions pulled together.”

LibAnswers turned out to be just the ticket for a special recovery mission. Derek told us City Library used a solution they already had to face a new problem. Derek recalled, “One of our other big post-lockdown challenges was around trying to recover all the library books out on loan to students who had suddenly moved away from London – either with or without the books they had borrowed from the library.”

It was great for us to be able to manage our liaison with these students, often over several months, through LibAnswers tickets as this meant different members of our team could quickly and easily see the dialogue we’d had and keep them updated.

Today they have an FAQ to address returns, but for this recovery project, Derek said, “We set up a Freepost returns service to recover library books and we were able to disseminate labels for this through LibAnswers tickets.”

Read about their big jump in LibAnswers/LibChat usage and in the uptick in user engagement with the feedback element in LibChat here in their Client Story.

Southern New Hampshire University: In Their Own Words

Heather Walker-White, the Manager of Library Information Services at SNHU’s Shapiro Library wraps up our 3-part Client Story series. With a piece she wrote herself about how the global pandemic hit home for their library and its students, many of whom were not strangers to the online learning model, Heather lets us in on their spike in utilization and what they learned during this demanding time.

We were already very well positioned to serve our students in an online environment because we have a rich online presence, built on the Springshare platform.

In the period between mid-March of 2020 to mid-March of 2021, we saw a 38.2% increase in our LibChat reference transactions over the same period from 2019-2020.

Heather Walker-White

Heather notes, “This number does not include our 24/7 chat transactions; I’m strictly speaking about the transactions handled by the Shapiro Library Reference team.”

She continues, “All of this has brought our team closer together. There has been increased communication and contact, and though everyone is perhaps a bit tired of meeting via a computer screen, it has been nice being able to interact with team members whom we might not normally have the opportunity to see.”

Later Heather continues,

That’s one thing I hope that we can carry forward…being intentional about creating opportunities for team connection that aren’t simply focused on working through an agenda, and instead address the holistic needs of Shapiro Library personnel.

To learn about the changes the Shapiro Library made to their LibGuides CMS-powered website homepage and how prepared they were, in general, for a switch to entirely online services, read Heather’s story.

More Client Stories Available

If you love to see how people are getting the most out of their Springshare Tools – we have an entire section of Client Stories available to you. Learn how Penn State University has an online presence in 30,000+ classes, or how the Virginia Department of Transportation won an award for their LibGuides CMS powered website.

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