From the Director
This article was written by Gretchen Arnold, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
Like its peer institutions, the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library has been coping with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most far-reaching decisions was to move the Library into Tier Three of our service model, which happened on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
This meant many changes with accompanying challenges, chief among them the fact that the Library was physically closed and all staff began working remotely. Decisions about how to continue to provide services were made thoughtfully, but quickly, and communicated to the Health System via a combination of email, social media posts, the Library homepage, and its blog, "Moore Library News". In order to provide UVA Health with meeting space (which is a regular part of our operation) despite the fact that all staff were working remotely, all were directed to use the 24 Hours entrance, which requires a Health System identification badge.
Fortunately, Library staff members were up to the challenge and swiftly transitioned services to a completely remote model. It was an “all hands on deck” experience, and the transition was almost seamless. It took every ounce of our collective creativity and attention to detail to make this transition work as well as it did. Classes, workshops, consultations, clinical support, chat questions, video processing, Library data collection, patron data support, Interlibrary Loan, online searches- all continued without missing a beat. New services and groups were created to serve the unique needs created by the pandemic, including a in-house Pandemic Planning Task Force; two short-term, weekly video series; a study on the pandemic's impact on services from health sciences libraries; and a project aimed at archiving University and community related to the pandemic. I applaud the entire Library staff for the diligence and dedication of its response.
Pandemic Planning task force wastes no time
This article was written by Dan Wilson, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
As I have a background in disaster preparedness, I have assisted the Jefferson Madison Regional Library (JMRL) with their emergency planning for the last several years. In the beginning we met irregularly but, in the months leading up to the Unite the Right event, we began meeting regularly and, in the past two years, began meeting quarterly and extended the group to include the Albemarle County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.
Unfortunately, JMRL pandemic planning overlapped with the Library’s, so I had to drop out of their planning process. But I was so impressed with its pandemic planning process that, on April 28th , 2020, I suggested to the Library’s executive team that we create our own Pandemic Planning Task Force. Library Director Gretchen Arnold liked the idea and asked me to co-chair the task force with our administration manager, Kyle Bowman.
Our initial thought about task force membership was to include the Library’s executive team, managers, and our communications librarian. Kyle added the idea of inviting any interested staff to join the task force and I agreed. After extending the invitation to all staff, two people expressed interest in joining and we scheduled our first meeting for April 30th, 2020..
During that first meeting, we were told that the clinics were likely to reopen on May 8th, 2020, which meant that we had a lot of ground to cover if we were going to reopen on Monday, May 11th , 2020 (the clinics' reopening date was later moved to May 15th, giving us a bit more time).
In order to save time and with no need to reinvent the wheel, I decided that it would be best for the task force to use JMRL’s existing tier model and, based on that, I drafted a four-tier structure for our purposes. The tiered model has been an iterative process as necessary revisions were made as conditions changed. Click through to view the Library's Operational Tiers (Pandemics) document.
Tier Five was never activated.
Tier Four was active from Thursday, March 19, 2020- Sunday, May, 17, 2020.
Tier Three was active from Monday, May 17, 2020 through Sunday, June 28, 2020.
Tier Two was activated on Monday, June 29, 2020, and remains in effect, as of the publication of this newsletter.
For Tiers Two and Three, the following rules were established for onsite staff:
1. All reporting staff must take the daily Employee Attestation survey before reporting to work.
2. All staff must wear a protective mask when in shared workspaces and hallways. (The library is providing masks for staff members, and these are available at the Service Desk or in the Administration suite.) Masks do not need to be worn in closed private workspaces.
3. Staff bathrooms on the second floor may be used, but only by one person at a time. To show that the bathroom is in use, please put a Post-it note on the door.
4. All staff must remain socially distanced (6 feet) from other staff during the duration of their shift. To reduce contact with fellow staff, the main staff hallway will be one-way from the Administrative suite to the entrance to the Collections Department.
5. All regular Library meetings will continue taking place using ZOOM.
6. Frequent handwashing is encouraged.
7. Only scheduled Service Desk team members and essential staff (as needed) should be in the Library during onsite service hours. Housekeeping and Facilities may also be in staff workspaces, as needed.
8. All Service Desk team members must use the disinfecting wipes provided by the Library at their workspace at the end of their shift. (Service Desk team members will be assigned their own keyboard, mouse, and office space.)
On the Thursday before reopening, the task force focused on the following items:
• Kyle reported that someone from Housekeeping would be assigned to the library during the day, but she will have other buildings as well. He also reported that one cleaning person will be assigned to the Library at night for a deep cleaning.
• Our IT team prepared office space for two Service Desk team members who lacked them.
• The task force finalized staff safety protocol for Tier 3.
• Kyle took ownership of listening to any concerns about how we are approaching reopening.
The task force also agreed that the IT team should remove all shared equipment, minus six hospital computers which are sometimes an essential tool for hospital staff needing access to the UVA Health floor build, including their specific drives. Kimberley Barker, our communications librarian, led a special signage workgroup that designed several signs for posting around the library. In addition, Kimberley developed a communications plan that covered our different social media platforms.
Initially, we were planning to reduce seating by storing nearly 200 chairs in our Cabell Room, which will remain closed throughout the pandemic as it holds our general book collection. However, just before we were going to take action, guidelines came out suggesting that group study rooms not be available.
On the morning of Sunday, May 17th, I moved all but 50 chairs to our six study rooms and a conference room. When I was finished, I had registered nearly 9,000 steps on my Fitbit. Our Service Desk manager, Dave Denton, came in while I was moving chairs and posted signs that were designed by Kimberley Barker and printed by Kyle Bowman. It was the first time in 60 days that I was physically working with a member of the library team. We were socially distanced and wearing masks, so we were safe, but it was still an odd feeling.
We reopened on Monday, May 18th. Our Service Desk manager and a member of the Service Desk team worked that day, taking turns at the desk. In anticipation of the need for Service Desk team members to get away to a safe place to relax or eat, each member of the Service Desk team was assigned office space. At reopening, we had an ample supply of staff PPE (masks, gloves, and sanitizing supplies). The only item we still weren’t able to procure was hand sanitizer, so we made certain that Service Desk team member knew that they could leave the desk at any time to wash their hands. In order to eliminate the need for staff to touch the phone at the Service Desk, it was decided that, when patrons called the Library, they would be directed to voicemail where the message would inform them of both the Library's hours and that all communications are continuing to take place on the library’s website, primarily through the Ask Us form.
Overall, very few adjustments needed to be made during our first two weeks of reopening. Abbey Heflin closely monitored the gate count, but it fluctuated very little over the first two weeks, settling in at around 50 patrons per day. Due to the low number of patrons, we were able to adjust our staffing model. Instead of asking Service Desk team members to work a full day, we were able to schedule one person to work 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM and another to work 12:30 PM - 5:00 PM. This eliminated the need for enclosed office space and access to kitchen appliances. Service Desk Manager Dave Denton and Director of Information Technology David Moody were collaborating on a contactless checkout system for physical materials. Patron questions centered around the Library's cleaning schedule, the square footage of the Library's meeting spaces (for those planning classes with an eye towards enforcing social distancing
During the third week of reopening, gate count numbers continued to hover around 50 patrons per day. It was reported that School of Medicine students would begin returning in the middle of June, and that by the end of June there might be need for additional Library spaces. As with the second week, very few adjustments were needed.
On the Monday of the fourth week of reopening, we began posting an hourly occupancy rate. This was done manually by Service Desk team members who counted the number of patrons using the Library. Since we had reduced the number of available seats to 50, occupancy was easily calculated by multiplying the number of patrons in the library by two. Occupancy was posted on our home page in the COVID-19 Update banner.
Another item that we looked into during the fourth week of reopening was purchasing contactless door openers for staff, which we eventually did.
The Pandemic Planning Task Force’s work isn’t finished, and won’t be for some time. Each member understands that we’re in this for the long haul, and each is committed to staying the course and protecting each other and our patrons.
Collections & services Department ensures access during pandemic
This article was written by Abbey Heflin, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
Like everyone at the University of Virginia, the Collections and Library Services Department has been heavily focused on responding to institutional changes caused by the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. On March 18, the Library moved into Tier Four of the Library Operational Plan in response to the University’s physical closure. This meant that all but our 24 Hours space were physically closed, and team members began working remotely. With the help of our Information Technology Department, team members without the technology necessary for remote work were provided with the equipment that made it both possible and successful.
With so many members of the UVA Health community suddenly working and learning remotely (and with most Library spaces closed and all of its staff working remotely) the public-facing services provided by the Service Desk Team became an even more important aspect of Library communications. In order to remain accessible to patrons, the team decided to implement a chat feature on our website. By March 20th, the Service Desk, working with the Library’s Information Technology department, had tested and deployed a robust version of our chat service that would be necessary for the increased traffic that would undoubtedly follow the University’s closure. The chat system includes both a public queue for patron questions (staffed by the Service Desk), and Library staff-only queues for internal communication, including receiving chat transfers from the Service Desk for patrons needing specific services.
During Tier Four, in addition to monitoring chat, the Service Desk staff also worked on several projects for the Historical Collections Department, including video transcription, the COVID-19 web archiving project, and on an online exhibit about the history of UVA Health.
Two months later, on May 17th, the Library moved into Tier Three of Library operations, which meant the return of in-person Service Desk staff. Due to staffing constraints, however, coverage of both the Desk and chat were reduced to the hours of 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM, Monday- Friday. Desk team members worked a rotating shift (half of the day in the Library, the other half of the day at home) to both ensure coverage of the Desk and chat and also to minimize exposure of team members. Further measures were taken in order to mitigate risk for staff and patrons, including:
- the door to the 24 Hours space continued to be the Library’s only entry point; the front doors remained closed.
- All onsite staff were provided with proper PPE, and Plexiglas barriers were placed around the Service Desk.
- Using a formula that included the Library’s square footage and social distancing guidelines from the CDC, some chairs and tables were moved to storage which helped to ensure that the Library didn’t exceed its maximum capacity.
- The Desk staff introduced contactless pick-up, as access to the Library’s physical collection is now limited to Service Desk staff (as opposed to the pre-Pandemic model in which patrons could access the collection themselves). Once the requested book has been retrieved by the Service Desk, it is checked out to the requesting patron, and placed on a shelf far away from the Desk where patrons pick it up. Returned items are quarantined based on CDC guidance.
Interlibrary Loan: After the Library’s physical closure in Tier Four, getting our two Interlibrary Loan specialists up and running from home was a priority. While they have been able to fill the majority of requests, they have been unable to lend physical items to other libraries (both UVA and non-UVA). Nationally, ILL lending has simply not been considered wise as we’re still learning about novel coronavirus transmission. Fortunately, there has been little interruption to Interlibrary Loan overall, as we have been able to process all requests for digital items.
Collections: The University’s closure and subsequent removal of students and employees off Grounds created several access issues, one of which was their inability to reverify their access rights to subscriptions through a UVA IP address (which is granted by physically being on Grounds). I immediately began working to get publishers to lift the reverification restrictions for at least the Summer, as no one was allowed on Grounds and not everyone had VPN, rendering the reverification process impossible. Thankfully, we were able to come to an agreement. This issue provided an opportunity for our Liaison Librarians to educate patrons on the value of having VPN.
Another important aspect of the Collections team’s work was working on behalf of faculty members to get access to digital versions of the books that they needed for their newly- online classes. If the e-version of the requested text was not available, we worked with them to find comparable options with the greatest number of user access licenses. It was a whirlwind, but ultimately successful. We also helped faculty understand how to use our ebook collections to find books, download chapters, and familiarized them with copyright concerns so that they were able to integrate ebooks into the online learning management system.
Many institutions are feeling the financial impact of the pandemic, and the Library is no exception: FY 21 will likely bring cuts to our collections budget, and I, along with the rest of the collections team, are working tirelessly to analyze the data and statistics to make the best choices about what resources we maintain and what will have to be acquired through Interlibrary Loan. I also have regular Zoom meetings with the publishers from whom we purchase resources; just like libraries, they are trying to navigate this very messy situation and I believe that regular communication is the key to successful outcomes for all.
Looking to the future, the collections team, along with other library stakeholders, will develop and promote Open Access and Open Education Resources. While my work in this area didn’t begin with the pandemic, it is certainly proving to be serendipitous during this time. Specifically, I’m trying to determine the best way to a) approach educating both colleagues and patrons on this issue, and b) make Open Access resources discoverable- including how to incorporate preprints. I’m also working to promote Open Access publishing, including publishing in Libra, UVA’s institutional repository. As inevitable cuts are made to all academic budgets, promoting sustainable scholarship will be an important aspect of the Library’s service to UVA Health.
If you have questions about the Library’s collections, or any of my other work, please feel free to get in touch via the Ask Us form, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Impact of Covid-19 on Health Sciences Libraries Programs and Services
This article was written by Associate Director for Knowledge Integration, Research, and Technology Bart Ragon, Ed.D, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on academic health sciences centers and the libraries that support them. Health sciences libraries throughout the United States had to quickly adjust so that they could continue to deliver high quality services from remote locations. March seems like such a long time ago, and it is hard to remember how quickly the information was changing. No sooner had our library made one decision than new information emerged that needed action. Often, decisions made at the end of one day had to be readdressed first thing in the morning. As the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library was rapidly transitioning its services, I became curious about the experience of other academic health sciences libraries. Medical libraries are a close network of colleagues, but the organizations we serve can be very different. Were my colleagues making similar choices when it came to pivoting their services? Did they have methods for mitigating the stress that COVID-19 was placing on library staff? How was the financial implications impacting their collections?
It occurred to me that the situation was evolving so fast that I wouldn’t be able to remember all of the decisions we made, and likely neither would my health sciences library colleagues. I contacted library colleagues at the University of Florida and at Indiana University who I knew had similar questions, and we decided seek study approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB). We designed a multi-site, mixed-method study to capture the evolution of academic health sciences libraries during the quickly-evolving crisis.
In the first phase of the study, a qualitative survey was administered to capture current evolutions of programs and services. An additional follow-up survey will be administered about every month to track updates from libraries as the situation continues to evolve. We plan to monitor the national and regional response of COVID-19 and continue to seek updates while it still seems relevant. The next phase of the study involves focus groups and creating a dialogue between the researchers and libraries.
We are at the stage where we have reviewed the preliminary data and preparing to ask for updates. It is interesting to see how similar, and yet how different, we are than our peer libraries. Our library has continued to change and I know it is the same for my colleagues. Many of them, like us, are starting to open, or at least planning to reopen, their space. I can’t wait to see the evolution of libraries over the next month and into the future. I also take comfort in the fact that we are not alone.
UVA COVID-19 Archives Project seeks to document Responses from the University, Wider Community
Dan Cavanaugh immediately realized that the pandemic would be historically significant. Moving quickly, he created the interdepartmental UVA COVID-19 Archives project, the purpose of which is “...to acquire, process, preserve, and disseminate rare and unique resources documenting the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 at the University of Virginia, the Charlottesville/Albemarle region, and the wider Commonwealth of Virginia.” (quote from UVA COVID-19 Archives Long-term Plan).
The project team includes staff not only from the Health Sciences Library, but also from Small Special Collections Library, Preservation Services, the Scholars’ Lab and Scholarly Communications.
In this interview, project leads Dan Cavanaugh (Alvin V. and Nancy Baird Curator of Historical Collections), Emily Bowden (Historical Collections Librarian), and Kara McClurken (Preservation Services) discuss what it is like to work on something so unprecedented in the modern world. The interview was conducted and edited by Kimberley Barker.
Why is this project important?
Dan: We all recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is a truly unprecedented event in the history of UVA, Central Virginia, and the United States. No single event has had such a sharp and wide- ranging impact on our society since World War II. We will likely be a different people and a different society when we emerge from this pandemic. By documenting what happens locally during this pandemic, I hope that we are developing a resource that future generations can analyze to understand how our actions today have shaped their lives tomorrow. I hope that we are developing a resource that will inform and improve future decision-making. And, I hope that we are developing a resource that will help people who lived through the pandemic reflect upon and remember these days, and what these times meant to them.
What are the parameters and scope of the project?
Emily: The focus of our collecting efforts is on materials documenting UVA and the Charlottesville-Albemarle region. As time and resources permit, we are expanding this scope to include some content from the wider Commonwealth of Virginia.
Dan: At this time we are focusing on the collection of ephemeral online resources (e.g. websites, online petitions, streaming video, blogs) produced for a mass audience. These materials are created by a wide range of creators including departments of the University of Virginia and the UVA Health System, media organizations, local governments, educational institutions, and community groups. We are trying to document as much how the pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our lives at UVA and in the surrounding Albemarle-Charlottesville region.
We are waiting until the end of the pandemic to collect other kinds of materials for our archive including oral histories, social media content, institutional records, and personal records. There are a number of reasons for why we don’t want to collect this content now. For one, we want to focus our limited resources on the capture of the most ephemeral materials, which we know from experience are online content. Just in the past two months, we have seen sites with important content about the pandemic rapidly transformed and in some cases even taken down. Since so many of our interactions with each other and the public during this pandemic are done in an online environment, we really need to capture some of this content before it disappears. Otherwise we will have a distorted archive that does not come close to representing our experiences during this time.
There is some content that we are not collecting now so we can ensure that individuals have the right to be forgotten. For example, we are only capturing websites that are clearly designed for mass distribution. This is a difficult time for many of us, and we are vulnerable. We don’t want to collect information from places (e.g. personal and community group facebook pages) where people are reaching out for help from others in our community with no expectation someone might be recording their experience for research. We also don’t want to collect materials directly from individuals as this pandemic occurs. We want to allow individuals time to reflect on the pandemic and we want to ensure that they are fully committed and informed about what it might mean to be vulnerable, to share their personal experiences with us, and donate them to an archive where they might be viewed by researchers.
Some time after the end of the pandemic, we can build direct relationships with individuals and organizations. We can then work with them on a more personal basis to preserve their experiences for future generations in a manner that respects their dignity and their right to privacy.
In addition to our effort to capture ephemeral online resources, we are now putting together a team and some documentation that will prepare us to do this other work when the time is right.
Emily: It has been great to have the expertise of individuals across the University collaborating on this effort. In particular, I really appreciate Lauren Work (Digital Preservation Librarian) and Kara McClurken (Director, Preservation Services) so generously giving their time and talents to the project.
This project is collaborative in nature; why was that important for its success?
Dan: I have been so grateful for the support we have had from leadership at both University Libraries and HSL for this unique collaboration. Collaboration is critical to the success of this initiative. For one, no one unit in University Libraries and the Health Sciences Library has all the skills, tools, and experience necessary to accomplish our goals. By integrating individuals from different areas into a single team, we can take full advantage of the talents of the great people at the University of Virginia regardless of their administrative unit. We can have the right people, doing good work, at the right time. Two, the pandemic is having an effect on every aspect of our lives. We need to document that. By collaborating, University Libraries and HSL can pull together our experience with different content areas (e.g. UL-UVA Academic, Virginia History; HSL-UVA Health, Health Sciences History) and more completely document this experience.
Please speak to your roles, and the roles of others in this project.
Dan: There are more people than us involved with this project. The University Library and the Health Sciences Library have built an integrated team that crosses University repositories and units. Roles are given to individuals based on the needs of the project and the abilities of the individuals. We have filled the current roles and we will need to fill a few more roles in the coming months:
Project Coordinator, Assistant Project Coordinator, Web Crawling Lead, Web Crawlers, Content Leads, Digital Processing and Preservation Lead, Arrangement and Description Lead, Policy and Intellectual Property Rights Advisor, and Web Developer.
I am the Project Coordinator, which means that I direct the project, lead project communications, design project roles and workflows (including the development of documentation), and assist with any aspect of the project where we might have a shortage of labor.
Kara: I am the Assistant Project Coordinator; pragmatically, what this means is that I serve as a sounding board for Dan as he fleshes out workflow and project roles. I fill in where help is needed (such as web crawling), identify and liaise with University Library staff who might provide additional time/expertise on aspects of project
Emily: I’m the Web Crawling Lead, which means that I manage web crawling assignments, serve as primary contact for web crawling training and troubleshooting, and oversee tracking spreadsheets and workflows.
Is there a timeline for the project? If no, what are the challenges of working on a project that has no end date?
Emily: The project began on a very informal, ad hoc basis. As the project expanded, four phases of activity were envisioned:
• Phase 1: Emergency Collection (March 11-April 12)
• Phase 2: Building the COVID-19 Archives during the pandemic (April 12- a yet-to-be defined date that signifies the end of the pandemic)
• Phase 3: The COVID-19 Archives after the pandemic (end of the pandemic - a date when we can no longer dedicate special resources to the archives)
• Phase 4: Maintaining the archives for future generations. (a date when we can no longer dedicate special resources to the archives -- perpetuity)
Due to the evolving nature of the current public health crisis, it is hard to affix definitive end dates to particular phases of the project; however, having this framework helps to maintain a balanced and sustainable approach to our collecting efforts.
In what ways do you think that this project will be historically significant?
Emily: For so many reasons, the COVID-19 pandemic is a truly unprecedented event. As such, we recognized early on that documenting this time and the effects and challenges it has brought to UVA and the Charlottesville-Albemarle community would be an important endeavor. The materials collected and preserved during this project will be a critical record for future researchers, students, and community members, to show how events unfolded and how local governments, institutions, community organizations, and individuals responded to the pandemic.
Kara: The University has experienced crises before (and will continue to do so). Over the last decade, the Library has been refining how best to document those events. One thing that makes this different from other events is the extended nature and the comprehensive impact. Events that have made national news in the past have been shorter in duration nor have they impacted every single member of the community in so many different ways.
What else would you like to share about the project?
Kara: Dan has done an incredibly thorough job of thinking through the documentation, resources needed, and impact of the work we are doing. I have been incredibly inspired and appreciative of his strategic approach of breaking the work up into 4 distinct phases, of gathering buy-in from stakeholders, and adjusting workflows and staffing as resources change over time. He has created a flexible, well-thought out comprehensive plan that can adjust to changing circumstances.
REFLECTING AS THE WORLD CHANGES
This article was written by Bart Ragon, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
On March 10, 2020, Dr. Bart Ragon boarded a plane for New Mexico bound for the Research Data Access and Preservation Association's 2020 Summit. Three days later, most conferences had been cancelled and universities began to ban travel. Below, Bart reflects on both the experience of leading remotely and on the ever-changing world in which we now live.
The trip itself started off somewhat normal and fun. Since it’s easier to fly into Albuquerque than Santa Fe, I had made arrangements to meet up with medical library colleagues from different institutions. We rented a car and stopped by the Petroglyph National Monument on the way to Santa Fe. It was during the drive that my colleagues and I first began to discuss COVID-19, as we were each naturally curious about how the others' institutions were responding.
The very next day the University of Virginia moved all courses online, effective immediately, and instructed students to not return from Spring Break. At Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, we on the leadership team were figuring out what this meant for our facilities, staff, and our ability to continue to provide services. One aspect of the medical library profession that would prove valuable over the next few days is the diversity in scope and reporting structure; the two colleagues with whom I'd traveled are medical librarians in different environments. For example, my library reports directly to UVA Health and supports the medical center, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing. My colleague Melissa’s library reports to the university library, but also supports a medical center and professional schools. Beth’s library reports to the School of Medicine, but does not support a medical center. The differences of perspectives in each of our states and at our institutions meant that we all had similar, yet different, experiences while living through the emerging crises.
Throughout the conference while attending the sessions, we each awaited official statements from our institutions. We each were called away at different points to attend emergency meetings with our respective libraries, and each began to work with our respective teams to develop contingency plans for an unknown future. Beth’s library moved quickly to a modified staffing model meant to reduce exposure of staff in the physical library, but kept the library open for medical students. My library began to imagine how the medical center might need to use our space and how our staff might work from home. Melissa’s library was hosting a conference the following week and she was dealing with a multitude of speaker cancellations (ultimately canceling the entire conference). She was also pulled into a three- hour library system meeting to discuss the crises and impact on services.
What struck me about this whole experience was the value of my professional relationships: each of us was listening closely to federal and state governments, our host universities, and our organizational superiors and, throughout the conference, we kept each other up-to-date as information emerged from our individual institutions. Each of us could then factor in our own organizational needs with what we were learning from each other. For example, I was able to inform my library about what I was hearing from our peer libraries and discuss with my library's leaders how we may or may not want to apply similar measures at UVA. It was a quickly-moving crisis and I was thankful to hear how other libraries were responding, even if it wasn’t applicable at my institution.
It helped to go through the stressful situation together, to not be alone with the uncertainty. Since then I’ve stayed connected with Melissa and Beth and we have continued to share updates with each other. It is also nice to know that each of us and our families remain safe. I doubt that life will ever go back to the way it was. COVID-19 and its impact will forever alter the American story. With that knowledge I take comfort that I am not alone, that we will get through this together, and that I have amazing colleagues who will share the experience with me.
VIDEO PRODUCTION SERVICE DURING THE PANDEMIC
This article was written by Stephanie Fielding, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
The Library’s Technology Department has for several years offered a popular video production service which includes planning, filming, and editing videos for University Health System staff and students. Normally the Library is able to offer this service in the Studio, which contains the equipment necessary for a professional video shoot, such as a green screen, lighting system, and digital camera. However, when the decision was made to move to Tier Three status, the video production service had to be reimagined in order to offer it remotely.
When the mandate came to hold all meetings and classes online, the Library was flooded with requests for help in setting up meetings, editing recordings, and also with requests for the creation of videos for a variety of purposes, including informational offerings, training, and academic assignments. For example, soon after Library staff moved to remote work a group of nursing students approached ** Stephanie Fielding for assistance in creating its Capstone presentation; rather than presenting it live, virtually, the group wanted to create a video. Stephanie met with the group via Zoom and advised it on the best way to create the video while still observing social distancing. With Stephanie’s help, each member of the group recorded their video and sent it to her, along with the presentation. Stephanie then edited each student’s individual video, adding their presentation to create one cohesive video for the group to present for their Capstone.
As the virus has changed the way that the Health System approaches its work, Stephanie says that it has been rewarding to continue assisting others in that work. Video has long served as important educational tool, she reminds us, but its value during this time of remote communication can’t be overstated. Though Stephanie and the rest of the Technology Department look forward to returning to normal, they are glad that they can continue to provide this popular and necessary service to the Health System during this time of widespread remote work.
One June 29, 2020, the Library moved to Tier Two status, reopening with limited onsite staff and under strict masking and social distancing requirements. The Studio is now open on a self-service basis, with the Technology Department still offering video production assistance and editing virtually, over Zoom. If you’d like to take advantage of this free service, complete the Ask Us form, and choose “Technology” in the “Request Type” field. A member of the team will reply within one business day.
Library support for clinicians hasn't wavered
This article was written by Elaine Attridge, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
As a clinical librarian, the changes I have made to successfully work from home have been quite easy for me! I work predominantly with clinicians whose schedules are not the typical Monday - Friday 8:00 AM-5:00 PM; to be as accommodating as possible, I have never required the people I work with to meet with me physically. This would have been a barrier for clinicians even before COVID-19!
Over the years, I have developed ways to interact electronically that enhance communication and make it easier for all involved. These methods include asking questions to clarify a patron's request, using screen capture/video capture tools to educate, and utilizing technology like video conferencing tools. I have also become very flexible with my work hours. I am used to checking email for requests and updates from the people I work with during off-hours, particularly when I am involved in a project that is time -sensitive.
Working from home during the pandemic has its advantages, particularly with regard to my commute time: simply roll out of bed! But I have been challenged at times trying to balance work with my family's needs. My husband has continued to work outside of the home which has left me to support our three children's educational needs. It seems like we all need to be on Zoom at the exact same time! Things got better when we started creating a schedule for the following day.
The only other downside is that I have missed seeing my colleagues in-person!
This article was written by Kate Joshua, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
I recently cut my own hair. I have six liters of homemade tomato sauce in my freezer. I sweep my front porch like a maniac. I’ve rearranged the furniture in my house six times, and I finished my 2020 reading challenge six weeks ago.I think it’s safe to say that my personal life, like yours, has changed amidst this pandemic.
However, my job as a medical librarian… well, it’s pretty much the same. Did you know that your liaisons worked from home while the Library was physically closed? And now, with the Library open for limited hours and with limited staff on-site, we are still working from home! In between crushing tomatoes and reading up on why my couch shouldn’t face West, I’m still working to find the information that clinicians need to do their jobs. I’ve been working on several review article teams, keeping up with search requests, and teaching remote sessions on EBP vs. QI; how to search the literature; and basic critical appraisal.
Whether you need help with a literature search for a review manuscript, or you’re trying to determine if writing a case report is feasible, we’ve got you covered. We’re happy to help you find journals suitable for your papers, share tips/tricks for searching, help you navigate QI projects, commiserate on the annoying aspects of APA and AMA citation styles, and basically any other information need that you may have. In fact, working remotely allows us greater flexibility to meet you where you are. For instance:
- Are you on a unit, but want to discuss an upcoming project? Let’s meet on Zoom.
- Do you only have a few minutes to ask a question? Use the Ask Us form, and we can work on answering your question while you continue to care for patients.
While many things have changed for all of us, our ability and willingness to serve patrons hasn’t: we’re still here for you. Reach out!
Library audio booth available again
Are you interested in using the Library's Audio Booth? It's open but, due to the fact that it doesn't have its own HVAC system, can only be reserved every three days for as long as the pandemic lasts. Fill out the Space Reservation form, and someone will be in touch promptly to fulfill your request.
How COVID-19 Advanced the Library’s Use of Technology
In an effort to encourage Library staff to adopt better tools for work processes- beyond email and face-to-face meetings- the Library Information Technology staff regularly (and for many years) investigated progressive communication and collaboration technologies.
During these on-going investigations, the members of the IT team aspired to be received as enterprising pioneers but instead felt more like pushy door-to-door salespeople. While there was always general enthusiasm for new and emerging technologies, adoption was sometimes slow- after all, most staff had established tried-and-true methods for supporting library patrons.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything and, in my opinion, technologically speaking, changed it for the better. The threat to individual health and safety (as well as government and institutional mandates) forced us to work remotely, which in turn forced a technological culture change. Library staff adopted a variety of tools in the areas of web conferencing, cloud-based storage, collaborative online workspaces, and suddenly the IT team was awash in requests for help and training- and not just from Library colleagues.
We were clearly all in this together, so it was important for the team to help both inwardly and outwardly and so the Library IT team quickly responded to help and support our department faculty and staff, hospital patrons, and others across the University as follows:
1. We joined the UVA Online 2020 Support Team to help over 1,400 UVA classes transition from in-person to virtual (online). This involved volunteering as technology assistants for online classes and helping with designing and training instructors in the effective use of new tools.
2. We launched new bootcamp training classes in three areas:
a. Web conferencing using tools such as Webex, Zoom, MS Teams
b. Project management using tools such as Office 365, Collab, and 3rd party tools like Trello.
c. Asynchronous and synchronous training using tools such as Zoom, Panopto, and Collab
3. We joined with the UVA Telemedicine department to help provide Webex support for hospital faculty and staff.
4. As a certified Project Management Professional, I was qualified to join the UVA Project Management Community of Practice and help mentor colleagues who found themselves managing new responsibilities
5. We joined the Medical Education team to teach faculty how to use Panopto.
6. We joined the Faculty Development team and taught a series of Zoom classes for School of Medicine professors.
In concert with the aforementioned institutional efforts, the IT team readied library faculty and staff with at-home computing solutions, developed a remote staff computing support plan, and established remote services to manage all in-library computers remotely.
We continued to provide technology consultations but transitioned all in-person consults to online. Among the most popular requests were:
1. video production training and editing services; Library videographer Stephanie Fielding moved these consultations to Zoom.
2. tools such as Zoom, Webex, Panopto, and Office 365
3. the Library’s Technology Developer, Anson Parker, began investigating pandemic response tools such as location mapping for contact avoidance, coordinating with teams using GPS locating tracking, and improving IT support through Contract Avoidance Protocol.
The transition was an incredible amount of work, but very rewarding overall. The IT team has helped a record number of patrons during the last three months, which taught us a lot about our own abilities and capacities. While most faculty and staff in and outside of the Library have adjusted to the tools necessary for remote work, the IT team continues to embrace the ongoing challenge of developing progressive approaches to serving faculty, staff, and patrons with value-added technology services, while also meeting pandemic safety guidelines.
If you have questions about any of the projects discussed here, please fill out the “Ask Us” form and someone will contact you shortly.
Transitioning to Remote Teaching in the face of COVID-19
This article was written by Dr. Marieke Jones, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker
In the Spring 2020 semester my colleague, David Martin, and I were responsible for teaching two curricular classes for the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Training Program in the School of Medicine: "Basics of Study Design and Practical Statistics" and "Introduction to Data Science for Biomedical Scientists". When the University moved all classes online, program Deans asked us to quickly transition our courses to remote learning. The "Basics of Study Design and Practical Statistics" course had one final week of content before a week of student project presentations. In response, we created content that could be learned asynchronously online for the final week and revised the project requirements so that presentations would work as effectively when recorded and viewed asynchronously. Leaning heavily on resources from the Center for Teaching Excellence, we were able to provide students with several software options to record their presentations. We asked each student to review 4 of their peers’ presentations as part of their project grade, enabling us to regain some of the community of learning that was lost with remote, asynchronous teaching.
Our Data Science course began March 26 fully online. David and I elected to teach the class sessions synchronously so that learners could seamlessly access real-time coding assistance. Over the years we have learned that allowing time for students to type code along with us allows for more active learning of coding vocabulary and syntax so we felt strongly that we must keep this aspect of the course design, despite the remote teaching requirement. As a result, David and I thought deeply about the best ways to enable students to follow along with live-coding to ensure that students could simultaneously see our screen and their screen. Prior to the course, we were careful to introduce all of the possible ways students could set-up their computer(s) at home (i.e., two computer monitors, two computers, one computer and a TV to extend the screen area, a computer and a tablet or phone, etc.). In our experience, students were able to successfully set up their physical learning environment in a way that facilitated live-coding and so we were pleased with this approach.
We did choose to supply the students with a code outline as well as a full script ahead of each class session. Several students reported that these materials were key to their ability to follow along. Guest lecture sessions from Research Computing staff about high performance computing and RNA-Seq data analysis were well received and we are grateful to our Research Computing colleagues for providing expertise in those areas and for crafting active learning components, independent work assignments, and interesting discussion questions. Final projects were presented synchronously over Zoom and classmates were encouraged to ask questions of the presenters to remain engaged. Multiple students asked whether code from the presentations could be shared among classmates so we are hopeful that students found these presentations helpful to their growth as skilled programmers.
I am proud of what David and I accomplished in a few short weeks, transitioning multiple courses to remote learning while preserving avenues for strong student engagement and the community that naturally develops in an in-person classroom. Overall, it was a good exercise for us to experiment with which pedagogical aspects worked well and which did not when teaching coding remotely. We expect to use these lessons to create excellent content in our open enrollment Library workshops when those begin again soon.
Reflections from the Medical Education Librarian
This article was written by Karen Knight, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
In April 2020, Karen Knight, Medical Education Librarian, facing the reality of the approaching pandemic, knew that she needed to find a way to both protect her health and continue to serve the needs of School of Medicine students and teaching faculty. Working from home was a welcome and easy adjustment, as Karen regularly responds to students’ questions seven days a week, nights, and weekends from remote locations. Bolstering the ease of the adjustment was the fact that she is very connected to the medical students (and to the curriculum) because of the hours spent together in the classroom and Library, as well as virtually through a closed Facebook Group that she created called "From Karen's Desk".
With the worry about her own health set aside, Karen was able to focus on helping faculty and students navigate the many changes that were necessary in transitioning the classroom into a virtual learning experience. Karen notes that she couldn’t have met the School of Medicine’s needs alone, and that she relied heavily on the teamwork and expertise of the Library staff, noting that, “This interdependence and collegiality have strengthened Library bonds and I believe that this positive appreciation for one another will outlast the pandemic.”
Though Charlottesville hadn’t experienced the pandemic in the overwhelming way that some areas of the country had, one of the reasons that Karen took the situation so seriously was because she heard first-hand accounts from last year's graduates about the challenges that they faced in hospitals across the country – including in New York City. Given the immediacy of those accounts, she could not ignore the fact that the Class of 2020 would very quickly transition from students to interns and residents during what is perhaps the most challenging time in modern medicine. It may not be easy going forward but, Karen says, “Having witnessed the way in which the Class of 2020 dealt with personal and academic challenges (including the loss of what are customarily in-person celebrations for important milestones such as Residency Match Day and Graduation), I have every confidence that they will meet the challenges with the same teamwork and positive spirit that they have shown as UVA medical students.”
We hope that you have enjoyed this issue (Vol. 1, Issue 1, Summer 2020) of Corpus Callosum. If you would like more information on anything that you've read, please email Kimberley R. Barker (email@example.com), and she will direct your query to the most appropriate person.