Thursday, February 25, 2021

Connecting with our users during COVID-19: Carroll University - Todd Wehr Memorial Library

This is the third in a series of blog posts showcasing how WHSLA members and their libraries responded to serving our users in creative ways during COVID-19. Thank you to Barb Ruggeri, Health Sciences Librarian at Carroll University, for sharing her story. 

Beginning in June 2020, we returned to our library building, with half of permanent staff rotating between the library and working remotely each day. Classes at the university are mainly in person, with software used to webcast classes in real time to those who are permanently remote or in quarantine.  Professors are given leeway as to how much of the class is taught in person or remotely based on factors such as instructor health,  COVID capacity, etc., so  many courses are a hybrid of in person and online.   As a result,  librarian liaisons have been asked to provide library sessions in a variety of formats.  I have provided the bulk of my instruction face-to- face, with some sessions webcast, but I have also provided prerecorded asynchronous modules on topics such as information literacy, PubMed searching, EBSCO searching and evidence based practice.   In several courses, in addition to the asynchronous these courses have included a  scheduled  drop-in session with me on Teams for those needing help with the assignment.  Participation in these drop-in sessions varied from 0 to 1 to 15 students. There was more participation when the course instructor was also present for the drop-in session.   For online and in person synchronous presentations, to maintain audience engagement I have used chat and “poll everywhere”  to replace group based learning activities.

 For safety, I no longer consult with student and faculty in my office, only through Teams.   I have enhanced my contact information on my libguides by integrating my Calendly appointment module with Teams, which allows anyone to book a teams meeting on my calendar.   In the library, we have created fliers with the  liaisons’ pictures with QR codes and posted them on our office doors and at the reference desk. The QR code takes them to our contact information on our libguides.

Find a roommate who grows with you!

In the past we had organized events for our students and student workers to reduce stress and make the library a welcoming place. With those events cancelled, we have reached out to students by putting out a table for different holidays with Ziplock bags filled with candy, dry erase markers and library swag.  In early fall, we gave away about 60 “googly eye” pots of spider plants.  The plants were started by one of our evening supervisors in March from spiderettes from the original plant in our staff lounge.  Students were all housed individually in dorms this year and we thought the plants would be a fun addition to their rooms.  Our signs read “Find a roommate who grows with you!”  They were a big hit.   Finally, our university is coordinating a faculty and staff outreach to those students who are quarantined during the semester. Faculty and staff can sign up and with the student’s permission, they will reach out via text or email to see how the students are doing.  It’s an effort to break through loneliness of quarantine isolation and let them know someone is thinking about them.

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