Librarians do their best to give students the resources they need
Just like the students, Concordia’s libraries have had to adapt to life during the pandemic.
“I think the access to collections was a huge change we implemented when we realized the library wouldn’t be open to users anytime soon,” said Lorie Kloda, who works in the offices at the university’s library.
She and her colleague Krista Alexander, reference and subject librarian at the Vanier Library, shared new strategies they set up to support students throughout the semester.
Philosophy student Andrew Wilcox was disappointed when he learned the library would be closed during his first year at Concordia.
“Hopefully, for the next semester we will have access to it,” he said.
Wilcox also mentioned the importance of having study spaces for students in need. Students were unaware that the university was already working on reopening some study spaces for individual study. The information was launched on the Concordia Library website on Sept. 14.
“The study spaces will need to be reserved in advance under very specific guidelines and we will have very limited numbers of spots,” explained Kloda.
“We usually have, at the Webster and Vanier libraries combined, up to 15,000 visitors a day during exam periods, for example. Right now, we are offering 125 seats at the Webster library and 50 seats at Vanier, so it’s a huge reduction,” she said.
The reservation works on a first-come-first-served basis; students will have three hours and thirty minutes, and must wear a mask throughout their study session. Respecting the sanitary instructions, a cleaning crew will sanitize every study space in between the blocks of time proposed.
“The students still won’t have access to the [physical] collection … There are no devices, no computers, and no other services offered on-site,” said Kloda.
Even if most of the libraries’ areas are closed, employees are organizing themselves to make sure students have the best possible experience during the semester.
“Funding is still being used to improve and enhance library services for students. It’s not because the physical space isn’t open that we are not still working for students,” said Kloda.
After a presentation of the services available, Wilcox had a clearer vision.
“They are trying to do their job to accommodate us the best they can, but it isn’t an ideal situation,” he said.
For a face-to-face, real-time interaction, there is an online service where students can video call the librarian and ask questions Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Since students can’t access the physical collection, there is a contact-less book pick-up service.
“If a student only needs a book chapter or a journal article … a member of the library’s team … will go into the physical collection, make a scan and send it to the student’s email,” explained Alexander. “Those services were in place before COVID and have become even more important now in terms of getting the students the access they need to the content we have in the collection,” she added.
The librarians do their best to get all the textbooks online, but not all book publishers allow libraries to offer a multi-user electronic copy of a textbook. Copyright laws make it also impossible for the librarians to scan all of certain items in the collection.
“The minute [a student] starts asking for more chapters, even if [they do] it in different weeks, it’s copyright laws, and they do not permit us to do it even during COVID,” said Kloda.
There have been corrections made. Krista Alexander corrected from Alexandre, Lorie Kloda corrected from Kolda, weekly question session times changed from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The Concordian apologizes for these mistakes.
Photo by Christine Beaudoin