Author Archives: jayshree

Elsevier agreement in Denmark: (just) one step forward

During the last few months intense negotiations have taken place between Danish universities and publishing giant Elsevier. The topic was of course license agreements and Open Access.

On January 26 it was announced that Danish universities had entered into a new license agreement for the coming four years, which means that Danish researchers can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now.

The main points of the agreement are:

The price of journal subscriptions remains the same for the entire period. It is based on the 2020 price.
The parties mentioned in the agreement have full, unaltered access to 75% of the Elsevier Freedom Collection (this used to be 100%).
Free Open Access publishing of the final Elsevier version of an article, with a Creative Commons BY license, when the author is corresponding author and affiliated with an institution that is a part of the agreement. However, several hundred Gold Open Access Elsevier journals and a list of about 170 titles under the licenses (not yet specified) are not part of this contract.
A price increase of 1,12% on other Elsevier resources, such as Scopus, for all institutions.

For one of the universities under the agreement, The University of Southern Denmark, this means that about 1.2 million Euros, or about 26% of the library budget for electronic materials, will be reserved to Elsevier in 2021. The funding is distributed with around 1 million Euros paid for subscription to the journal package “Freedom Collection”. In addition, the library subscribes to other resources outside the current agreement: e.g. the reference data base Scopus, the bibliometric data base SciVal, various individual journals and digital reference works, and the software underlying the research registration system, PURE.

The University Library of Southern Denmark has also been paying around 100.000 Euro annually for article processing charges (APCs) for Open Access publishing, which meant that the university’s budget had all been fully spent before yet another agreement. Previous agreements with Elsevier have brought annual price increases of 3-5%.

Therefore, the good news is that this part of the universities’ contract with Elsevier has now been settled.

Remaining issues include the following:

the agreement only covers the Freedom Collection;

the limitation to “corresponding author” has a unknown impact on the national Danish Open Access strategy and library services related to Open Access;
Elsevier still denies Open Access to almost 800 journals;
and the library will only have perpetual access to 75% of Elsevier’s journals – in terms of the journals “value”; it is notyet clear which journals this pertains too, as it depends on the price of the individual journals, as set by Elsevier.

However, the agreement should be seen as the first step in the right direction, which we hope will lead to more reasonable agreements between Danish universities and large publishers like Elsevier.

Nationally and internationall, library budgets are still under huge pressure from price increases on licenses, by far exceeding the increases in public funding. Therefor libraries still experience a massive economic pressure and must still face the need to cancel subscriptions and reduce library services, in order to balance their budgets.

So even though the new agreement with Elsevier in Denmark is no doubt an improvement, the current subscription-based scholarly publishing model does by its nature not present a sustainable future for research libraries: true transformative agreements are still ahead.  

Bertil Fabricius Dorch

Library Director, Associate Professor

University Library of Southern Denmark, SDU

Denmark

Email: [email protected]

 

References

Press release from Universities Denmark:

https://dkuni.dk/pressemeddelelser/denmark-enters-agreement-on-open-access-with-major-publisher/

News from University of Southern Denmark:

https://www.sdu.dk/en/bibliotek/om+biblioteket/nyheder/

ket/nyheder/elsevier

How do you cope with Beethoven during the pandemic?

As is the case with most national libraries, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) engages in a range of activities including – but not limited to – legal deposit, reference collections and services both for researchers and academics (research library) and the general public (public library) and national and international cooperation. Such activities are legally assigned to BnF by a government decree. As part of what is called “valorization” are a number of outreach activities such as exhibitions, but also conferences, lectures, concerts and other shows, educational programs, etc.

As an academic and research entity of BnF, the Music department contributes regularly to such programs, in the framework of a “cultural agenda” driven by periodic (such as the European heritage days or the yearly BnF Festival), current or exceptional events (large acquisitions, scientific symposiums, etc.).

For example, in 2020 we celebrated the “250th birthday” of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and as BnF’s Music department holds several original manuscripts of the composer we planned two public piano concerts related to such rare artifacts, that were to be held in the Spring:

– One with Nicolas Stavy for a program combining a Beethoven piano sonata, the “Appassionata” (N°23, opus N° 57, part of our collections), and several Liszt pieces, including the “From Cradle to Grave” one (also part of our collections)

– One with Alain Planès, for a dual bill conference and concert about and with the “Appassionata”.

Owing to the pandemic we had to postpone them because of the lockdown in France between March and June 2020, which saw the closure of all public venues. When the situation went back to a “new normal” we rescheduled the concerts for the Fall season; but then in November, France went through a second lockdown. Although this second lockdown was less stringent than the previous one (most BnF reading rooms stayed open, for instance, albeit with specific sanitary measures), while theaters, cinemas, auditoriums etc. remained closed.

At this stage, the institution had to decide either to cancel the events for good, or to find another way to produce them. The choice was not easy: (a) we had no visibility to plan for future dates given the uncertain evolution of the pandemic (b) because of the anniversary nature of the events, it did not make much sense to schedule them in 2021 or later (c) we had booked well-known artist on premises – public performances – that were no longer valid.

Therefore we discussed the options with the artists and proposed to organize online performances. This resulted in three programs:

– A documentary on the Beethoven and Lizst manuscripts, with Nicolas Stavy, that was shot in November and put online thereafter to serve as a teaser for the events;

– The Nicolas Stavy concert, with a brief introduction, that was then recorded, slightly post-produced, and broadcast on 3 December, then put online;

– The “Appassionata” conference and concert, that was broadcast live on 15 December (approximate date of birth of Beethoven) on Facebook then put online on YouTube.

Beyond my personal involvement in these projects and beyond BnF music’s department, I think these experiences provide food for thought, for outreach activities of academic & research libraries working with heritage collections:

  1. The positive feedback of the events (with a larger number of “views” than the physical capacity of auditoriums) shows the attractiveness of heritage concerts where high standards of quality content and production are met;
  2. Both for library curators, artists involved, and the general public, nothing can replace live on-site performances, and to a certain extent, there would be a danger to permanently move such events online;
  3. These experiences therefore, if repeated in the future, are to be viewed not as a worst-case-scenario, but as an alternate and complementary experience to the live performances that artists, librarians and the public are still looking for, longing for – and want to see and hear!

The dialogue between heritage documents and public performances is evolving; it provides opportunities to reinvent the content created by research librarians. This is good news, but in the same way that remote content enriched BnF’s services during the pandemic without replacing our reading rooms – which are currently open – this shift does not equate to giving up future public performances. The music is on, and the venue just more diverse and we hope, it brings as much knowledge and fun as ever to our various audiences.

Jérôme FRONTY

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Music department

[email protected]

COVID-19 pandemic: a challenge for academic libraries’ citizen science ambition

  1. The “new reality” for Slovenian academic libraries is still there

The new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has been affecting public life in Slovenia since the beginning of March 2020, when the first infection was confirmed, followed by an official acknowledgment of the epidemic. Universities and other institutions of higher education closed their physical premises and all academic activities went virtual. Although the Government of Republic of Slovenia declared the epidemic over on 31 May 2020, the study and research process until the end of the Summer semester (that is, by the end of June) was delivered mostly remotely.

While at the beginning of the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in Slovenia, no one imagined that it would soon cause an almost complete lock-down of public life, most academic libraries responded quickly to the new situation. They provided users with an increased range of electronic information resources and remote services. Online help and assistance to users in finding and using information resources during the complete closure of libraries was also organised. Within the Slovenian consortia for the purchase of electronic resources, negotiations for better conditions for access to licensed resources have intensified. This included cost-effective Article Processing Charges (APCs) in open access scientific journals and hybrid scientific journals as well as the sweetened costs for open access scientific monographs.

The period with good epidemiological situation in the country was short, lasting only until the beginning of October 2020. Universities and independent higher education institutions have entered the Winter semester, which begins on 1 October, by model B (named as «hybrid model»), which means the implementation of the study process partly remotely and partly onsite. In less than three weeks, on 18 October, the Government again declared an epidemic on the entire territory of the Republic of Slovenia. The country being hit with a second wave of COVID-19, higher education institutions have closed their physical premises again and for the second time, moved their activities to a virtual environment.

Due to the government’s measures to prevent the spread of new coronavirus infections, users will not be able to enter the premises of higher education libraries until further notice. It is possible to deliver library material by post or to pick it up without direct contact with library staff. Libraries are once again inviting users to use electronic resources and services as much as possible. Some of them are also actively involved in informing the public about the results of scientific research in the field of the new coronavirus and publish useful information to prevent the spread of infections and deal with possible infections. Among them, as an example of good practice, we would like to point out the Central Technical Library at the University of Ljubljana (CTK), which has established the website Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and participates as a partner in the project “Citizen science and the fight against the coronavirus” (COVID.SI).

  1. Participation in the open science and citizen science as a challenge for the CTK

CTK is the main library and information centre in the field of natural sciences and technology in Slovenia. It provides information services for students, University of Ljubljana staff, researchers, and professionals. It is part of the national library network and member of the co-operative online bibliographic information system (COBISS.SI). It is also an official PATLIB centre of the European Patent Office, providing users with local access to patent information. The library manages the Digital Library of the University of Ljubljana portal, enables access to a rich collection of paid electronic journals, books and databases.

Furthermore, CTK is one of the leading libraries that support the development of open science. In cooperation with other higher education and special libraries in Slovenia it has organised The Open Science Network as a consulting centre for open science. The network provides consulting and user training in the following areas: open publishing, research data management, citizen science, and open education. The Network is part of the Slovenian national open research infrastructure and is a public service.

With the emergence of the new corona virus, Slovenian scientists have also become involved related research. A team of scientists led by dr. Črtomir Podlipnik from the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology at the University of Ljubljana in collaboration with other stakeholders, including CTK, has prepared a Citizen Science project COVID.SI, open to the general public, in order to join the forces fighting against coronavirus. Mag. Miro Pušnik, the director of CTK, shared with us some basic information about the project and about the role of the library in its establishment and development phase.

  1. SI : a Citizen Science project supported by the CTK

(The section below is a condensed interview of Mr Pušnik)

The COVID.SI project is focused on analysing molecular compounds and helping find a cure for new coronavirus. In this project, researchers are searching for ligands – small molecules that successfully dock into protein receptors and inhibit a specific process that is critical to the virus development. Knowing the interactions between a ligand and a receptor is key to understanding the biological response that occurs during ligand binding. When designing drugs by means of structural information, researchers typically design ligands that are complementary to biomolecules in shape and properties. The search for the right compound can be performed on volunteers’ computers. Therefore, researchers involved in the project, along with volunteers, have developed an easy-to-install software in order to download a subset of compounds and examine it. The results are then sent to a common data server where they are collected for further analysis.

 Podlipnik, Č., Jukić, M. & Pleško, S. Citizen science project to fight against Sars-CoV-2 by distributed computing. https://covid.si/p/1/en/

Anybody can participate in the project as a volunteer. Some individuals may only help by donating his/her computer time and sending the results back to the server, others may contribute by sharing useful information, and the most experienced ones may participate in the project’s strategy development, assist its technical implementation, prepare targets (protein structures) for molecular docking, suggest ligands, process virtual docking results, etc.

Initially, CTK’s role in this project was mainly to promote it and search for volunteers (via crowdsourcing). In Mr Pušnik words: “Here, our role in the university environment and our broad reach towards users were an advantage. We have also made our public relation service available”. In the completion phase, CTK provides its support to researchers by presenting the results in an open science environment, offering them assistance to share research data according to the FAIR standard, and publishing open access articles.

The promotion and development of citizen science is one of the main future orientations of the library. The Citizen Science CTK platform is just at the beginnings of its journey. It is developed in parallel with the emerging makerspace CTK and CTK’s Library of Things. To quote Mr Pušnik: “Our goal is a tighter connection of the local community and the University of Ljubljana. On the one hand, where feasible, we wish to attract as many volunteers as possible to the research activity. On the other hand, we are committed to a better accessibility and visibility of scientific works created at the university for the local community.”

  1. Conclusion: from academic library to citizen science

Last but not a least, we would like to emphasize that higher education libraries could play an important role in citizen science. Through their activities, they can promote networking between researchers and the wider community, and thus can become a kind of an incubator for citizen science projects. Bay way of example, one of the events to encourage the active participation of higher education libraries in citizen science, the professional meeting entitled “Citizen Science: the bridge between researchers and broader community«, was organized by CTK recently, on 11 November. A video of the meeting is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcIj15lDaU0&feature=youtu.be&t=5.

Melita Ambrožič

Deputy Director for University of Ljubljana library system

National and University Library, Ljubljana, Slovenia

[email protected]

 

Digital Dexterity in Australia

https://tinyurl.com/y5tzpf93

The role of librarians working in the higher education sector changes continuously, as it should. There was a time when academic Iibrarians needed to be just digitally literate, that is have “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills” (American Library Association). Being digitally literate alone is no longer enough.

Librarians are now being urged to become digitally dexterous. The concept of digital dexterity first emerged in the business world, defined as the “cognitive ability and social practice needed to leverage and employ various types of media, information and technology for advantage in unique and highly innovative ways that optimise personal and business values” (Gartner 2015).

In Australia, the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) has taken it on board and noted, “digital dexterity is a fundamental aspect of the mission of university libraries … and is a critical component in the success of digital societies”. CAUL is the peak leadership body for the 39 university libraries in Australia, but also represents eight university libraries in New Zealand; and seeks to makes a significant contribution to higher education strategy, policy and outcomes in the representative countries.

In relation to digital dexterity, CAUL has developed five principles:

  1. Society is transformed through the power of research, teaching and learning, all of which occur in a digital context. University libraries are instrumental in building society’s capacity for digital dexterity, transforming how people experience knowledge through discovery, use and sharing.
  2. University libraries are essential elements of digital knowledge and information infrastructures, enabling student achievement and research excellence.
  3. Australian graduates have access to resources that will enable them to develop the digital skills to thrive in a global work context and to become effective global citizens.
  4. A proactive approach to lifelong learning is a key component of digital dexterity, and businesses should facilitate employee learning in partnership with education institutions, including libraries.
  5. CAUL supports the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, including the importance of digital inclusion and citizenship in achieving those goals (CAUL, 2020).

In 2019, CAUL established the Digital Dexterity Program: Digital Dexterity – the new skills for learning and research excellence, recognising the need for library professionals working in academic libraries, to be digitally dexterous, than being digitally literate, and able to better support the students of the future. It released a position statement on ‘digital dexterity’ describing it as being “a fundamental aspect of the mission of university libraries, now and for the foreseeable future”; and that it is more than digital literacy, and that it enables “active participation in all aspects of work and life in a digital world”.

To help members better familarise themselves with digital dexterity, CAUL has developed a range of initiatives to help its members:

  1. a position statement on digital dexterity outlining principles and goals.
  2. a Digital Dexterity Framework for library professional setting out the capabilities which make up digital dexterity.
  3. a “champions network” which include a “champion” within each member university library who can work within a community of practice to develop skills, share resources and provide feedback to other champions.
  4. an Advocacy Toolkit that provides a structured way to approach advocating for and engaging with conversations about digital dexterity at an institution.
  5. a Digital Dexterity Community of Practice.

Read more about CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Program here: https://www.caul.edu.au/programs-projects/digital-dexterity-new-skills-learning-and-research-excellence

 

Jayshree Mamtora

Scholarly Communications Librarian

James Cook University

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 and academic libraries in Slovenia: a new reality in user services, and the case study of The Central Economics Library

  1. General situation in Slovenia

The new coronavirus (COVID-19) has been affecting public life and public institutions in Slovenia since the mid-February 2020, when the epidemiological situation in the neighboring country of Italy began to deteriorate rapidly. Institutions of higher education have begun to prepare themselves for the worst scenario, i.e. the probability of imminent transmission and spread of infections in Slovenia. The first infection with COVID-19 was confirmed on 4 March 2020, and the Government of the Republic of Slovenia declared the epidemic situation on 12 March 2020. Some strict measures followed: we have closed cultural and educational institutions, non-food shops, restaurants and bars, abolished public transport, and movement between municipalities was first restricted and then almost completely disabled.

Universities and other institutions of higher education closed on 16 March and all academic activities have been moved to the virtual environment. Higher education libraries faced a new reality almost overnight. Some of them (for example the National and University Library, the Central Technical Library of the University of Ljubljana, the University Library of Maribor, Central Economics Library, Library of the Faculty of Education) responded quickly to this situation. Despite the fact that the library staff worked from home, users with remote access were provided with an expanded set of electronic information resources and online assistance to find and use them. During the lockdown other academic libraries concentrated their efforts on internal library tasks (such as bibliographic processing of materials) rather than user services.

Subject to strict hygiene and other measures to prevent infections with CORONA-19, Slovenian libraries were able to introduce lending of physical library materials – without direct contact of employees with users – at the end of April 2020. Limited use of reading rooms and library equipment (e.g. computer workstations), was enabled only at the beginning of June. The Government of Republic of Slovenia announced the end of the epidemic situation on 15 May 2020, and the decree entered into force on 31 May 2020. Despite the formal end of the epidemic, we are aware that the virus is still spreading among us. Therefore, even in the context of a gradual relaxation of protective measures, hand sanitation and face masks are still compulsory in indoor public spaces, as well as on public transport, social distancing should be practiced at all times, and all larger public gatherings are still prohibited.

The situation caused by the epidemic warns us that our lives will no longer be the same as they were before. While academic libraries are currently open to the public, they have to respect a number of safety measures. All of them are facing challenges to transform their services support educational and research activities in the online environment. The fact that academic libraries are becoming more ”invisible“ as a physical places than they have been before “corona times” creates some concerns. Also, all professional meetings of academic librarians were canceled since the March, which resulted in a gradual reduction in contacts and collaboration between libraries. We also find that those libraries that have sufficient support from their parent higher education institutions face these challenges faster and more successfully.

  1. A case study: The Central Economics Library

Among the latter, as an example of good practice we would like to point out the Central Economics Library (CEL), which operates within the School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana (SEB LU).

The Central Economics Library is the leading and largest scientific and academic library for business and economics studies in Slovenia, founded in 1947. It houses more than 245,000 printed books and serials, and provides in-house and remote access to a great amount of electronic resources (between them access to 250,000 eBooks). The library has more than 4,400 active users (members), and many more use its remote services. It provides modern premises and equipment to physical visitors and in offering online services it actively follows the development of modern technologies and changes in the information needs of its users. In the development of its services, it has the strong support of the parent institution, which also had a significant impact on the success of adapting library activities to the new conditions. We asked the head of the library, Mr. Tomaž Ulčakar, to present the library activities at a time when its work was taking place only outside its physical premises.

  • Tomaž, could you say that your parent institution was ready to face the situation that followed the declaration of the COVID-19 epidemic in Slovenia?

The School of Economics and Business has been dealing with the coronavirus situation since mid-January, when we began receiving the first comprehensive information on the situation in China, provided by Confucius Institute, which operates within the school. The time coincided with the Chinese New Year, when employees at the institute return home for traditional celebrations. No one imagined that the Chinese Year of the Rat would bring such extreme changes to the functioning of our higher education institution. Throughout February, we received daily worrying news about the spread of the new virus across China’s borders, and especially about the epidemic situation in our neighbouring country, Italy.  Therefore, our parent institution immediately began to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which is that in the near future the virus will be transmitted to the territory of Slovenia too. Finally, at the beginning of March, we entered a new reality, the first infection with the new virus was confirmed and an epidemic was soon declared in Slovenia. The situation changed overnight. Carrying out the study and research process on the school premises was no longer possible, students and university staff had to stay in their homes.

Since the School of Economics and Business decided in the 2018/19 academic year to a gradual transfer of study courses to the online platform Canvas, which is a course management system that supports online learning and teaching, there were no major problems with the transition to a new way of studying and teaching. To support the activities in the administrative and technical field of work, licenses for the use of the Zoom application have been leased, which enabled audio and video communication between employees and external stakeholders, organization of meetings, trainings, workshops and other forms of cooperation. With a notice “We are all online!” published on 11 March, SEB LU informed students that the entire teaching process will be transferred to the digital platform.

  • How the library responded to the changed situation?

The events followed very quickly. On 11 March, the University of Ljubljana restricted all physical gatherings on the premises, on the evening of 12 March, an epidemic was declared in Slovenia, and on 13 March, the Central Economic Library was last opened to users. On Monday, 16 March, a “new era” for the library began. The same morning, the library staff met via the Viber phone app. With considerable concern, we wondered how we would organize our work in the future, what technology we would use, how we would provide user services, and so on. However, it soon became apparent that our anxiety was unnecessary. The existing technology we had enabled effective work coordination and communication between employees. The Zoom application, on the other hand, enabled us to stay connected with library users and offer them information, online assistance and training.

The parent institution (SEB LU) also responded immediately to the new situation and strengthened its presence in the online environment. To remain active and visible among students, business community, and general public, it has focused on three communication directions: SEB LU Helps (providing answers to frequently asked questions of all kinds, related to the operation of the institution during the epidemic); SEB LU Informs (providing information on the epidemic, study activities, etc.); SEB LU Contributes (sharing our own knowledge to benefit society). The library was invited to participate actively.

  • How did the library stay connected to its users and what services did it provide them remotely?

From the first day of the closure, the library staff was thinking about how to stay in close contact with users, which communication channels to use to inform them, and how to help them in discovering and using information resources. Entry information points with the above-mentioned titles were soon implemented on the SEB LU web portal, and the library decided to participate in the SEB LU Contributes section. This was followed by a reflection on which content to offer library users and in what way. Hence the idea of ​​offering short presentations and trainings under the common title “CEL Outside the Library” was born. The first live broadcast on Zoom platform was on 20 March. Under the slogan “How can I help you” we introduced all “online active” library employees and highlighted the services we can offer users remotely.

https://www.facebook.com/sebljubljana/photos/a.317848971577162/3498676970160997/

After the first successful presentation, we made a plan for further live broadcasts. We have decided to present for users interesting content regularly, every weekend (mostly on Thursdays and Fridays). We started with presentations of basic information about the library and its online services and gradually moved to thematically oriented content and more demanding forms of training, with presentations of various electronic information resources and ways of information discovering. Several e-resources providers from Slovenia and abroad participated in the presentations and workshops, too. All presentations were attended very well. Among the presentations conducted by CEL employees, users were most interested in training on remote access to information resources and on citation according to the APA standard. By the end of May, we had held 23 of our own events and 11 events organized in collaboration with the external lecturers (e-resources providers).

In a close cooperation with the various parent institution’s offices, we also widely provided online events. The Marketing Office took care of posts on the SEB LU website and social networks (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), CEL employees published information on the library website, in the online guide “eTutor*CEL “ and students’ information system “Student-net”, also different professional and personal channels have been used. In the promotion of presentations held in English language, we cooperated with the International Relations Office, the Students Affairs Office and the Doctoral Programme Unit.

  • The way in which the study process will be conducted in the next academic year depends on the epidemiological situation in Slovenia and the instructions issued by the relevant authorities. Are you in the library already getting prepared for this uncertain period?

Of course, we are daily wondering how our work will go on in the coming months. What the new reality will be, no one really knows or – no one dares to predict anything. Right during our conversation, both at the SEB UL and in the library, we are already intensively preparing for the autumn of 2020 and for the beginning of the new academic year. In addition to planning future training and consulting activities for users, we are currently considering how to expand the amount of e-study literature and other electronic information resources.

Working in the completely new and unpredictable circumstances was a great challenge to us all. We are not afraid of the future, as we have found that even with work remotely (from home) the library can remain “visible” and not lose contact with users. Of course, this way of working cannot completely replace the personal contact of librarians with users, nor can it replace the communication between users themselves that the library as a space enables. Therefore, we wish that the period when we had to provide library services only ”outside the walls of the library“ is over. However, we are readying for this as well.

Melita Ambrožič

Deputy Director for University of Ljubljana library system

National and University Library, Ljubljana, Slovenia

[email protected]

Academic Libraries in Nigeria Riding the COVID-19 Storm!

The situation in academic libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria – one of the African countries hit hardest by the disease –is a mixed one.

Before the pandemic, activities with different services were provided as usual. For instance the Kenneth Dike Library, University of Ibadan (http://www.library.ui.edu.ng) offered 24 hour reading services for users (except  during the morning and afternoon shift : (https://librarymap.ifla.org/stories/Nigeria/24-7-UNIVERSITY-LIBRARY-READING-ROOM-PROVIDES-EQUITABLE-ACCESS-TO-ENERGY-AND-INFORMATION/141). News of the pandemic came in February at a time when the library practically had to be run by library interns because of a nationwide strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The interns had to end their stay in March when total pandemic lockdown came in full force.

In the 36 States of Nigeria, activities in academic libraries vary  during the pandemic. Most academic libraries have been totally shut since March, 2020 with the staff in the technical units working from home. Where feasible, online library services are provided. Many quickly subscribed to Open Access materials such as those offered by publishers and educational facilities locally and abroad. Some private university libraries remain reasonably functional given the circumstances, but they offer reduced services. Physical contact must be avoided Only 25% of the usual number of clients and staff have access, and not permanently. They must maintain appropriate social distancing protocols.

There is little alternative for academic librarians than to conduct their researches from home and get online trainings. Webinars, workshops, conferences and seminars are being distributed via remote conferencing platforms. In addition, academic librarians individually and in collaboration with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are currently working on sensitization campaigns and information literacy programs. Conversations with a number of academic librarians revealed that the efforts towards providing services to patrons has been mainly through informal rather than institutional channels. Text messages, Facebook posts and WhatsApp chats, in collaboration with some Special libraries and NGOs are commonplace.

Some academic librarians especially in the Akwa Ibom State created volunteer groups in a “Community Roving Library/Literacy Development Project”. Children in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp have benefitted from such activities during lockdown. The negative impact of the COVID-19 on children’s education has been addressed by the group promoting reading culture, donating books, and empowering children to enjoy lifelong reading.

Heads of academic libraries are permitted to work, being members of the Management teams of their academic institutions. This is why it has been possible for the University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria to take delivery of robots donated to it by Platform Capital on the 29th of June, 2020. The use of robots, the first of its kind in any academic library in Nigeria, will be programmed to perform quick reference services, help users finding books, enhance book categorisation, track headcount and create a user friendly library. This will help reduce the risk of transmitting or contracting COVID-19 among staff and make the library a safe space for users.

Academic libraries in Nigeria will have now to cope with the “new normal” whatever the post-COVID future will be. As James O ’Donnell said, “we have for the most part left our buildings closed and dark while we together ride out the vital storm that has swept upon us”. The academic library narrative in Nigeria of 2020 is still on the ride. We’re riding the COVID-19 storm!

Further references :

Adetoun Adebisi Oyelude

University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Principal Librarian

Email: [email protected]

 

 

Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) by Academic Libraries in Botswana

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) had unprecedented effects on higher education institutions across the globe, Botswana included, despite the relatively low number of cases officially reported so far (see OMS situation report date July 5, 2020). Following the announcement to declare Coronavirus a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation, Botswana government closed all Universities and centers of Education by 23rd March 2020. For Botswana, a country that still struggles with reaching to learners with limited access to internet connectivity, this presented a lot of challenges for library service providers. Although learners have access to computers and smartphones, Internet connectivity is not easily affordable to learners outside the university and college premises. Libraries then had to come up with ways to reach out to their clients through the following:

  1. Increased use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to share resources and answer queries;
  2. Webinars;
  3. Conference calls, online meetings and online tutorials;
  4. Sharing more open access resources;
  5. Access to eBooks and digital collections.
  6. In terms of spacing, libraries marked seating spaces, queue lines on grounds to access services at service points and controlled numbers entering libraries from 1st June as Universities opened doors for academic activities.
  7. As per the Health Regulations Requirements in response to Covid19, all libraries must devote personnel to register users as they enter the library for contact tracing. All users entering the library are expected to sanitize, have their temperature checked and wear masks to curb the spread of the virus.

As Botswana began gradually to ease some restriction starting 8th May 2020, strict protocols still apply to date in the country’s universities.

Here are the Internet links of some of the shared information resources:

 

Oarabile Mancha Rakgamanyane

Librarian
University of Botswana Library

Email: [email protected]