Library services still available after transition to online

GSU Library employees remain instrumental in providing services during coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy of GSU Library

Since Georgia State’s closure, many services have been made available online, including Georgia State’s library. 

“Each year, more than 90% of the money spent on collections goes toward electronic resources … These resources remain available in this crisis,” Dean of Libraries Jeff Steely said. “For many years, library professionals have developed online research guides and tutorials. We have facilitated remote assistance through a chat interface and a FAQ that remains available after hours.” 

The library team has found new ways to connect as they continue to manage the new online services, according to Steely. 

“As a truly consolidated unit, we have also developed comfort with using tools, such as WebEx and [Microsoft] Teams, to collaborate online,” he said. “All of this is to say that we have been able to pivot to provide excellent support for teaching, learning and research in this challenging time.”

According to Steely, the library has suspended purchases of physical books and other materials in order to emphasize digital content.

“We have implemented backend processes for delivering content to meet specific requests. This might involve purchasing an e-book, identifying an alternate path to a particular work like the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service, or scanning a portion of a work,” he said. 

Steely included that the library staff has been helpful in switching to online services. 

“Everyone’s work-life has been challenged by this crisis, yet each employee has found a way to continue to contribute to providing excellent service now or working on special projects that strengthen us for the future,” he said. “I am particularly grateful for those who periodically work in one of the physical library facilities to scan needed materials, prepare and deliver technology to library staff so they can continue working, and handle other duties that can only happen in the buildings.” 

The entire library staff has assisted in the transition to virtual services. 

According to Shaumond Scott, senior editorial and production coordinator for the library administration: 

  • Whitney E. Bates-Gomez is the Electronic and Continuing Resources librarian. She provides leadership with developing, maintaining and assessing the library’s electronic and continuing resources. 
  • Michelle Lee provides electronic delivery of journal articles and book chapters from the print collections to Georgia State faculty and students.  
  • Nedda Ahmed responds to questions in the online library live chat and is also a part of the library web team. 
  • Braegen Abernathy manages the electronic resources unit, which ensures access to the library’s vast collection of licensed electronic content.

These are only a few contributing members of a much larger working staff. 

The library also offers online workshops.

“We have moved workshops which were planned for a face-to-face setting and library instruction sessions into an online format,” Steely said. 

However, there aren’t any available workshops currently.

Regarding the availability of virtual services during the coronavirus pandemic, the library team has added a feature to the library’s homepage that highlights useful resources.

We made some quick changes to the library home page which highlight particularly useful resources during this time of online teaching and learning under the header ‘The Library is Online!’ Steely said.“In addition to all of the online services we normally provide, the library has put increased emphasis on student and faculty support through our chat interface. Our subject and campus librarians also respond to specific requests received via email.”

They’ve also built a guide for using the library when teaching online.

When asked about the live chat, Steely said that there are librarians who previously worked for Georgia State that still monitor and reply to questions from their homes.

“I would also point out that, even after hours, the chat link takes one to a form for submitting a question, which will be answered the next day,” Steely said.

The help and answers section of Georgia State’s library provides answers to questions, particularly at the time of the university closure. 

There is also an “Ask Us” feature that allows individuals to provide questions about the library services. Moreover, there is a topic area where persons can find questions about particular topics, such as articles and journals. 

In addition to the online answer section, the library has a YouTube channel that provides tutorials.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, some national library services offer remote services for people.

One library, the National Emergency Library, offers services and encourages research, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Such services include remote teaching, research events and independent scholarship, according to the NEL website. The online library resource has books, audio, videos, software and images. The NEL initially started in 1996 by archiving the internet and other media such as television (2000) and books (2005). 

For books, those that came out in 1923 are available for download, and multiple contemporary books can be borrowed through the Open Library site. From 2009, TV and news broadcasts are archived in the TV News site.

Another online library service is HathiTrust, which also offers media, such as books. Founded in 2008, this online resource is home to over 17 million items, according to the website

There is also a research center that provides data analysis and academic research with the help of HathiTrust Research Center Analytics (HRTC), for data analysis. 

Additionally, HathiTrust offers “Strategic Directions,” which outlines various goals for the site. Some include interdependence among libraries and responsibly maintaining and recording sources. As previously stated, the organization was founded 12 years ago, and collaborated with the University of California and the Big Ten Academic Alliance.

According to the HathiTrust’s website update, many face-to-face events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis. But the online library service has reviewed its policies for potential emergencies, especially of this magnitude. 

Non-essential travel has been suspended, including a conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, until May 31. Employees of HathiTrust also have the option to work from home.