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Challenges & Opportunities

July 22, 2020

Now more than ever our support roll as academic librarians to our faculty is essential. This transition (or quick shove off the cliff) into virtual teaching, has proven the importance of access to quality digital materials. This is not without its challenges, but I also believe it opens up opportunities for the library.

While teaching faculty had to rethink how to effectively teach in a digital format, the librarians had to rethink how to best support these faculty, and of course, the students. We moved to virtual reference, encouraged faculty to embed us in their Canvas classes, and focused on providing access to ebooks and other e-resources. Finding streaming video equivalents for DVDs faculty would normally play in-person, continues to be a challenge in the virtual environment. As far as we have come technologically, not every film is available from our streaming services, it is out of budget, and/or does not provide the appropriate public performance rights. Explaining copyright restrictions has been an interesting challenge. I see the frustration from the teaching faculty when I can’t get them access to something they need and I feel it too. As we encounter these and other challenges, and do our best to find solutions, I am hopeful for positive change. Accessibility and access will have a higher importance. Evaluation of our current digital holdings and streaming video databases will take top priority, allowing us to offer high quality digital materials. This move to online teaching and the change in how we operate has shown a light on a deficit we possibly did not know was there, or was too low on the priority list to change.

This is a true learn-as-you-go moment for all of us, but I think it is also a great opportunity to collaborate with our faculty, establish strong roots of support, evaluate our collections, and evaluate the needs of our community. It is an opportunity to really jump feet-first into the deep end of library user needs and accessibility. It is an opportunity for growth and learning; growth of our collections, growth of new skills, and new opportunities to learn new technology. We are in the middle of a historical moment that will shape librarianship for years if not decades to come. It is not easy to be in the midst of change, but I have hope that we can adapt to propel our profession forward.

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