Many thanks to The Middlebury Campus for sharing the Middlebury College librarians’ efforts to serve our community in the story linked below.
The seven librarians in the research and instruction group meet regularly to talk about how we’re connecting community members with library resources. We’ve examined how our work has been affected by the pandemic. The library was closed last spring, and research support was provided only online this fall. Throughout the entire period, we’ve used both tried-and-true and experimental forms of communication to help researchers get what they need.
Students still receive answers, regardless of where librarians are located
Even though we haven’t been able to sit at the Research Desk, we’re still answering questions day and night via email and chat. One-on-one consultations now occur on computer screens instead of in our offices. These personalized research sessions have always been popular among students, and it’s been fun to see how many more students have scheduled with us now that we’re all online.
Online teaching can be effective when we can be creative
Library workshops for classes look very different online, but our learning goals remain as student-centered as ever. We’ve been so excited to be able to work creatively with faculty, despite how busy everyone is, on designing new research exercises. Often, a “flip the classroom” approach has led to lively in-class discussions about the intricacies of online research.
Strong faculty-librarian collaboration has been essential
Faculty have been pleased with the results of our collaboration. “Your (our) workshop was one of the highlights of the last few weeks,” said Japanese Studies Professor Linda White, after a workshop that helped her students prepare for a research paper on current social issues in Japan.
In short, teaching and learning online certainly comes with challenges, but there may be a few silver linings too. “The future of work post-college will likely involve more remote work and I see that as a positive,” said Senior Research & Instruction Librarian Brenda Ellis. “Doing anything in new ways can feel daunting, but I hope students will feel more confident not only with communicating online, but also navigating and critically evaluating the world of online information.”
To meet with a librarian in real time, use the links on our Ask Us page.
What Do Librarians Do When the Library Is Closed? was originally published April 30, 2020, in the Middlebury Campus. This blog post was published in May by Katrina Spencer, and revised in December by Carrie Macfarlane.