Academic and Research Libraries in the whirlwind of the pandemic:a trap or a chance for transformation?
It’s not news anymore that 2020 has been a year to remember and unfortunately, not in a positive way…The whole world has been affected by a rapidly spreading new virus that imposed changes, adjustments and hard decisions.
Libraries – the information world in some extend – have also come across a new reality that affected their operations, their staff, their resources, their buildings and their users. it’s very clear our role, activities, plans, norms, standards have changed. Even postponed or cancelled. Has this marked the end of our contribution and support to research or is it just an abrupt shift to our identity and role?
Trying to put together the experience and strategic actions of academic libraries in Turkey and worldwide, we decided to organize and host a virtual poster session as a freely accessible pool of evidence. Showcasing our “survival” skills under the current circumstances can help us engage with each other to share experience, difficulties, best solutions and unsuccessful attempts, upcoming plans and lessons learned.
Our open invitation for contributions brought together 26 virtual posters, 14 international and 12 locals. Authors were asked to address questions like:
How are you surviving this case?
How do you reach out to your community?
How do you support distance education in your Institution?
How do you cope with access restrictions and well-established norms?
To make sure posters would present real cases and not just a theoretical analysis of the circumstances, we set a few content requirements:
• Training & support to distance education
• Access to resources
• Services (e.g. document delivery)
• Technical issues, difficulties and barriers
• Work from home experience: how to keep yourself and your team well motivated?
• Any other activities / services implemented these days
We were very happy to see all these different cases from academic, research and special libraries that exemplified how staff managed to stay focused, motivated and productive, to serve their community no matter what.
The best part of this project was the interactivity it created between the posters authors and those who visited the webpage to view the posters, through a 3 days virtual dialogue. As the platform supported comments, the audience could comment below the posters and authors would reply – 3 days, almost 300 comments!
Even though our initial plan didn’t include any kind of presentation from the authors or an individual recognition of the posters, the very positive feedback posters received – highest number of comments, level of enthusiasm and applause of those who commented – led us to the decision to further present some of them. The selection was based on the number of comments the poster received, the content itself and the design.
That was not an easy decision, as all posters carried a unique identity, touched different preferences and showed the hard work and success stories of the libraries. Nevertheless, we had to select 3 and here are the results:
• Closing the (social) distance – Jennifer Salomonsson
• Connectedness @ the Alex – Anne Burnett, Rachel Evans
• The initiative #AyudaBiblioteca in Spain: A SWOT analysis – Alicia Fatima Gomez-Sanchez; María Marquínez-Cabrejas; Juanma De la Cámara-De las Heras; Concepción Campos-Asensio
• Koronavirüs Sürecinde İYTE Kütüphanesi Hizmetleri ve Kullanıcı Memnuniyeti – Ayşen Binen; Gönül Kafalı Can; Gültekin Gürdal; Şükrü Merter İdin
• Pandemi Sürecinde Çevrimiçi Kütüphaneci Ol(a)mamak – İdil Ayhan
• Uzaktan Eğitim Sürecinde Kütüphanelerde Yeni Bir Hizmet Ağı: Kanıta Dayalı Psiko-Kütüphanecilik – Müslüm Yurtseven, Kazım Şentürk, Şefik Vural
To give the posters authors the chance to present themselves, their work and their library’s experience during the pandemic, we hosted live sessions, open to the public.
You can watch the “3 best international virtual posters” & the “3 best Turkish virtual posters” on our YouTube channel.
(group photo from the international posters live session)
The virtual posters project was a success! Not only because it attracted the interest of international and Turkish Library professionals, but mainly because it captured insights of real cases, giving the opportunity to participants and the audience to broaden their experience as it has been formatted by the pandemic.