Posted by: bluesyemre | September 7, 2020

Transformation of #AcademicLibrary services

This ongoing COVID-19 crisis has compelled not only the tertiary educational institutions to continue their business via online mode, but also their stakeholders – staff and students – to adopt this unexpected shift from face to face to online or blended delivery of learning and teaching. Picture: https://online.usc.edu

The beautiful planet has seen unbelievable threats and challenges because of the Novel coronavirus, causing COVID-19.

This pandemic has jolted not only public health, but also the economy. In most parts of this wonderful globe, the lockdown situation for controlling the movement of people and blocking the proliferation of this deadly disease has occurred.

However, the COVID-19 cases worldwide have grown, resulting in enormous challenges, and global uncertainty to organisations or temporarily closure of businesses.

During this pandemic, the capability, collective imagination, and thoughtful action of senior management plays a very crucial role in dealing with the present difficulties, changing business practices, and rewriting the sustainable business future.

Fiji consists of an archipelago of 300 tropical islands and 540 islets and is known as “heart of South Pacific” and “home to happiness”. It was not an exception to the closure of its most businesses on this fragile planet when COVID-19 cases had been identifying.

With the herculean efforts and viable approaches of the Government, Fiji became COVID-19 free, and the business started.

However, this ongoing calamity is closely monitored by continuing the night curfew, launching CARE Fiji app., etc.

This pandemic has also forced the educational institutions to bring temporary closure to their core business which has impacted 90 per cent of the world’s student population.

In Fiji, this ongoing crisis has compelled not only the tertiary educational institutions such as Fiji National University, and The University of South Pacific to continue their business via online mode, but also their real stakeholder’s (staff and students) to adopt this unexpected shift from face to face to online or blended delivery of learning and teaching (L&T).

This era is also known as the “Era of Technological Fusion” that has brought a paradigm shift not only in publishing format from print to electronic or digital but also to universities libraries in making the right choice for digital and online resources and services as well as in avoiding the possible risks associated with the journey of printed books from publishers to users.

These digital information resources have enrooted to the doorsteps and desktops for quenching the hunger of their users and also opened the gate to discover the solution to this ongoing destructive COVID-19 crisis.

Similarly, the libraries of these universities had hard choices in offering services ranging from minimal restrictions to full closure as well as in assessing the possible risks to library users and staff members.

In order to avoid the potential identified risks, the universities library staff members working either from home or on campus respected the strictest measures suggested by Fiji Government, World Health Organization (WHO), International Federation of Library Association and Institution (IFLA), etc.

Also, the flexible policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs) have provided a viable way to libraries to respond strategically to this pandemic by replanning, redesigning, repackaging and relaunching the transformed resources and services for remote access as well as to move forward towards their re-openings.

In addition, libraries have taken several feasible precautionary measures and initiatives regarding their smooth operation as per the suggested guidelines.

So the universities library have been working hard in transforming and providing access to their collections and services remotely.

These libraries already rowed their boat in building robust digital scholarly resources through the subscription of electronic/online/digital databases consisting of e-books, e-journals, e-theses and dissertations, trade journals, magazines, conference proceedings, reports, case studies, audiobooks, videos, etc.

The formation of Fiji Library Consortium in 2013 with the help of EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) has added a wide range of scholarly electronic and digital resources to the libraries collection.

To provide round the clock seamless and global access to these digital resources of universal knowledge, libraries use EZproxy and web-scale discovery services (EBSCO Discovery Service) and enterprise (SirsiDynix), one search platform for all the resources at one place.

During this calamity, several world-leading prominent university presses, publishers, and vendors have taken a great initiative by unlocking their databases of digital resources as free access.

This free access initiative continues until the normalcy is returned.

Apart from this, open educational resources (OER) also played a crucial role in learning, teaching and research which made available under the open licences to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.

All the above tools and resources together have created not only a unique platform but also the ideal search experience for their users.

During this devastating period, libraries have also transformed their marketing strategy by adopting different modes as library website, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), virtual open day, online information literacy, webinars, common e-mail circulation by public relation department, reference enquires through ask-a-librarian or contact us, etc.

The library professionals have been blessed with the marvellous experience of working from home and attending webinars and online workshops/conferences.

Lastly, the library professionals and libraries worldwide are trying their level best to provide the right resources to the researchers, scientists, doctors and other stakeholders in order to combat COVID-19 for mitigating the public health impact.

Now there is no doubt COVID-19 has halted most of the academic activities, but the libraries have confirmed their immense backing to their educational institutions in achieving their goals.

Dr Tanveer Haider Naqvi is the deputy university librarian under the Department of Library Services at Fiji National University. The views expressed are his and does not reflect the views of this newspaper. For comments or suggestions, e-mail DUL@fnu.ac.fj


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