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COVID-19 response

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Libraries shuttered its buildings and branches on March 17, 2020, while staff working from home continued online services. Staff returned in June to provide digital delivery services and to prepare buildings for fall. After extensive arrangements by facilities staff to encourage physical distancing, four libraries — Health Sciences, Magrath, Walter, and Wilson — opened for use by University faculty, staff, and students.

During COVID-19

  • Digital content became invaluable to the continuation of research and learning. The Libraries’ digital collections provided access to over 10.6 million articles and e-books. Our eResources Management unit worked tirelessly to troubleshoot problems to ensure access and our Digital Delivery staff scanned articles and book chapters fromour physical collection while our buildings were still closed to users.

“Dear entire Wilson ILL staff,

Thank you all so much for your hard work during the campus shutdown. Without your continued help and support, my research would have come to a standstill. Best, John”

—Library user

  • Interlibrary loan, already a lifeline to those resources that the Libraries didn’t own, became essential. Requests for books declined, as users didn’t have any way to access books that were not in digital format. Still, we received 53,618 requests in FY20 and filled 90% of them, including the on-demand purchase of 774 e-books from March to October; usually we buy 200 a year.
  • Nancy Sims, Copyright Program Librarian, wrote a guide for educators, “Rapidly shifting a course online,” which was adapted by many other institutions. While Copyright Services does not offer legal advice, it does provide welcome guidance to faculty, staff, and students.
  • HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access was offered from March 31 to Aug. 12, 2020. Full-text versions of publications in HathiTrust for which the Libraries has print copies were opened to users through online access to the digital repository, providing loans of 12,536 digital books.
  • With schools closed and children sequestered at home — many without enough books or activities to appease their curiosity — Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collections, created #OperationReadAloud to fill the gap. Through the Facebook group, with more than 1,700 members, Von Drasek pulled together children’s book authors, illustrators, and advocates to record themselves readingbooks aloud.

Interlibrary loans and digital delivery


The number of requests that have been fulfilled for interlibrary loan materials and digital files is on the increase. The number declined slightly in FY2020, but the Libraries were closed from March 17 through June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

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