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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > May/June 2020

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Vol. 40 No. 4 — May/June 2020
DEPARTMENTS

News Desk +
by Alison A. Trotta


As we go to press, daily life has been in an upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In these uncertain times, society is shifting on-the-fly, with the intention of flattening the curve. (For guidelines and information specific to the coronavirus, please visit the CDC website: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.) Colleges and universities have sent students home early, and some have pivoted to online learning for the foreseeable future. Public spaces have been shut down, and events have been canceled or postponed. Here is a collection of various responses of those in the librarian profession, at the time of this writing.

Gale Creates a Free Resource Center

With the aim of supporting educators and librarians in the wake of an increased need for virtual learning—spanning innumerable communities—and in light of the closure of physical libraries, Gale has created a COVID-19 resource center (gale.com/covid19support), which is free to use. It is anticipated that this hub will continue to evolve rapidly, but initial resources include interdisciplinary, curriculum-aligned materials to bolster online learning from pre-K through the undergraduate level; live and on-demand instruction materials to facilitate the use of existing resources; and ebooks on professional development meant to ease the transition to and strengthen virtual learning.

Cancellations and Postponements

The London Book Fair, which was slated to take place in March, has been canceled. Reed Exhibitions made the decision in the growing shadow of the pandemic, noting in a statement that “business has to continue. With this in mind, we will of course support and collaborate with exhibitors and visitors to keep our world moving during this difficult period.”

With the same considerations in mind, Computers in Libraries (scheduled from March 31 to April 2 in Virginia) has been postponed. A statement from Information Today, Inc. says, “Out of an abundance of caution, we believe this is the best decision to ensure the health and safety of our community of attendees, speakers, and exhibitors, as well as our own staff.”

Wiley’s Multi-Level Reaction

On a companywide level, Wiley immediately limited nonessential travel at least through the end of April. It has adopted flexible working arrangements (such as working from home) and supports employees with the technology needed to work efficiently from home. On the customer side, remote access is available to all Wiley systems (email, communication tools, etc.), and there’s currently no disruption to normal service or access to Wiley’s content. Additionally, Wiley has taken the following helpful measures: offering free access to 5,000-plus COVID-19-related articles and making available a real-time, fee-free feed with the most current research and news about the virus from Scitrus, which is powered by Atypon’s AI-driven discovery app.

ProQuest Grants Unlimited Access

ProQuest is teaming up with 50-plus publishers to support libraries by providing unlimited access to Ebook Central holdings for all patrons, with no additional charge. With the sudden demand for higher-learning institutions to accommodate distance learning and research, the ability to access materials is paramount. In the wake of the shift, libraries need to support the increased demand, and ProQuest customers affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns have been given unlimited access to the entirety of owned titles from the aforementioned publishers through mid-June. All licenses, including single-=user, have been automatically converted to unlimited access for that period, allowing librarians to bridge the gap for patrons during this time of upheaval. For a continuously updated list of participating publishers, visit media2.proquest.com/documents/unlimited=access-participatingpublishers.pdf.

JoVE Offering Free Education Videos

As college classes have moved online for the foreseeable future, a number of faculty members are challenged by a middle-of-the-term pivot to online instruction. Given that there’s understandably been no prep time, JoVE is providing free access to its resources, such as JoVE Core (a video textbook centering on biology and social psychology), JoVE Science Education (a collection of easy-to-understand video demos in eight STEM disciplines), and Lab Manual (thorough, curriculum-focused videos for introductory biology lab courses). Additionally, JoVE curriculum specialists are available to assist faculty members in mapping JoVE videos to their curriculum, at no cost.

Librarian Advocates for the Facts

Librarians have responded to the crisis in myriad ways. John DiGilio, co-editor of the digital newsletter Librarian News Digest, encourages readers to seek out information, supplying several resources himself. DiGilio stresses the importance of listening to experts, while highlighting the fact that info pros can help staunch the spread of incorrect information and soothe frayed nerves. He points to two posts that he deems helpful. One is from Library Boy (micheladrien.blogspot.com/2020/03/coronavirus-resources-for-libraries.html), and the other is from SabrinaI. Pacifici on her beSpacific blog (bespacific.com/the-best-and-the-worst-of-the-coronavirus-dashboards).

LYRASIS Announces ICOLC Statement

As the administrative agent for the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC), LYRASIS released the organization’s statement on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on library services and resources. The full statement can be read here: icolc.net/statement/statement-global-covid-19-pandemic-and-its-impact-library-services-and-resources. The statement’s intent is twofold. It is designed to assist information service providers that license and sell online and print content to libraries comprehend how the pandemic is impacting the global information community. Additionally, it is meant to offer a range of approaches that are in the mutual best interest of libraries and information service providers.

ALA Executive Board Issues Strong Statement of Support

ALA’s executive board took a powerful stance regarding the safety and well-being of library workers and their communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Per a statement, it “strongly recommend[s] that academic, public and school library leaders and their trustees and governing bodies evaluate closing libraries to the public and only reopening when guidance from public health officials indicates the risk from COVID-19 has significantly subsided. … We underscore the importance and need to come together in this crisis and commit to ensuring our libraries, which provide so many important services to our communities, do not serve as vectors for a fast-moving pandemic.” For more resources and information about COVID-19, visit ala.org/tools/atoz/pandemic-preparedness.