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Library Spotlight: Online Resources and Books by Mail: The University Library's Response to COVID-19

eNews Edition: Spring 2021

Contributed by Kathy Dabbour

As CSUN began rapidly moving on-campus instruction to virtual modalities in response to the COVID-19 virus in March 2020, the University Library faced many challenges, including how to continue to provide resources and services to support student learning and faculty pedagogy and research while Library staff and faculty were required to telecommute. Early on, the Library’s millions of electronic articles, e-books, streaming media titles, digitized archival and scholarly materials, and online research and support services proved invaluable to supporting these needs. In addition, Interlibrary Loan continuously provided access to electronic journal articles and book chapters from other libraries to students, faculty, and staff who could not access them in the Library.

Student using the CSUN University Library contacless Locker Pickup Service
Student using the CSUN University Library contactless Locker Pickup Service

Beginning in fall semester 2020 and continuing in early March 2021, after the surge in the virus started to subside, the Library began providing home delivery of books and physical media to students, faculty, and staff via USPS. Recently, the Library started providing contactless Locker Pickup Service whereby books and physical media can be picked up from assigned lockers located outside the Library’s main entrance. Materials borrowed from other libraries via Interlibrary Loan are also provided via locker pickup or via USPS mail. Duplication requests are being accepted for access to physical archives and map collections, which are currently prioritized for student and faculty research needs.

Classroom instructors were not the only faculty who had to quickly switch to online teaching and learning modalities. Library faculty, who teach several thousand students per year, also had to adapt their in-person information literacy and library research instruction to synchronous online sessions. In addition to providing asynchronous online library research guides and self-guided tutorials, and Ask a Librarian email, live chat, and phone reference assistance, recently the librarians experimented with a Zoom Office Hours program to support students.

While the Library is currently unable to provide in-person access to its popular collections of print textbooks and media on reserve for courses, faculty can request that reserves staff provide chapter scans and purchase e-books when available for faculty to link to in their courses’ websites. During the spring 2021 semester, the Library began providing students access to about 30 high-use electronic textbooks through BibliU, an e-textbook borrowing system, which was paid for with CARES Act funds. Faculty users of physical media for their courses are also encouraged to substitute streaming titles available online via the University Library, Los Angeles Public Library, and free sources on the Internet.

In addition, until the University started its “Device Loaner” program for students needing a laptop, hotspot, and associated peripherals last April 2020, Library Technology Services (LTS) loaned out all of its hotspots, laptops, MacBooks, and tablets to students, and the Creative Media Studio (CMS) had to cease loaning out their digital cameras and other audiovisual hardware due to the Library’s closure. However, three popular virtual services for CSUN students were launched: Remote login to a variety of multimedia and science and engineering software, zoom workshops related to their respective equipment and services, and peer-to-peer help by LTS/CMS Student Assistants.

As if all of this was not enough, the University Library continues its commitment to providing diverse educational and cultural programming in virtual format, including a first-ever completely virtual exhibit and virtual events that are open to all. While the Library remains closed to the general public and remote access to its online and physical collections is limited to CSUN students, faculty, and staff, we invite the community to explore the Library's open-to-all electronic resources.

For more information, please visit Library Resources During COVID-19