Rethinking Academic Library Services during Covid-19 pandemic: A case study on Father Moses Library, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences (Autonomous)
By Neetha Devan NV
Assistant Professor, DLIS, RCSS
The year 2020 has been a challenging one to people all over the world, effecting every perspective of the human life. Role of academic libraries changed according to the evolving paradigm shift in teaching methodologies as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19. The challenge to the libraries were the current global trends in online education and significant roles libraries can play. For Libraries to morph themselves into a form that is adaptive to the demands and requirements of the post Covid-19 era, extensive use of social networks, adoption of an intuitive and responsive website design and blended librarianship are some the practices recommended. Fr. Moses library, being part of the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences (Autonomous), also had to adapt to many situational changes to cope up with the blended mode of teaching/learning adapted by the curriculum in the college.
The objectives of the study was to understand the differences in library services and functions provided by Fr. Moses library in pre-pandemic and post-pandemic times, to understand the permanent changes in the outlook and behavior of library professionals brought about by the covid outbreak; to examine how libraries can provide quality services to patrons and ensure proper usage of resources during pandemic period, and to study accelerated dependence on e-resources as compared to the traditional resources. Fr. Moses library also served its users in multiple ways throughout the lockdown period and still continues to do an excellent service during the seemingly never-ending pandemic times.
The aim of the study was to conduct an exploratory investigation on Fr. Moses library’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort was to recognize the intricacies of “how and what” the library has implemented for providing digital services to its teaching faculty and students during the pandemic. It also describes the challenges and implications for the library professionals working from their residences and from remote locations. The study explored the practices and services patterns during the pandemic when the classes in the college were suspended and online classes were started. The major challenge was the transition from physical to online delivery of information services. The blended mode was adapted by the teaching departments to which the library had to contribute in its own way with various reference services, access to databases, e-books and e-journals. The reactive surge of online classes offered the libraries its own bunch of challenges and opportunities.
A few roles that the Fr. Moses Library played to provide functions and services through the application of information and communication technologies, namely in assisting in ‘search strategies’ for their research, dissertation and even assignments, teaching users the easy way to access various e-resources and databases, supporting the faculty members in collecting “review of literature” for their research and Publication and other educational needs, subscribing to new databases and providing remote access facilities to all its users.
Users Health and well-being
Without doubt, safeguarding the health and well-being of staff and students was always the top priority when providing library services during COVID-19. Fr. Moses Library implemented the following major precautionary health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside the library:
Role of Librarians and Library Staff during the Pandemic and its effect on them
The field of library and information science had also been facing the lockdown challenges since this outbreak. All types of libraries including academic and public libraries found difficulties in providing the services to patrons. Those libraries which possess only physical documents or resources faced problems in providing their services, whereas libraries having significant e-resources served the users.
Meanwhile libraries tried their best to be in connection with the users by conducting different programs such as reading competition, review writing competition, arranging virtual book-clubs and so on. Libraries and educational sectors conducted webinars through specific platforms such as zoom, google meet, go to webinar apps etc. College and university libraries provided their e-content through their websites for easy access to their students and faculty. But not all are tech savvy and not all could equally access the e-resources. Users faced so many problems including the connectivity issues and lack of updated systems and smart phones. This prevented them from accessing information from various sources.
Reference: Devan, N. V. N., & Tripathi, A. K. (2021). Rethinking Academic Library Services during Covid-19 pandemic: A case study on Father Moses Library, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences (Autonomous), Ernakulam, India. Library Philosophy and Practice.