Thursday, May 21, 2020

During Covid-19 libraries shifting online: crisis driven opportunity to innovate

Covid-19 has changed the habits of the whole world in terms of living, working, reading.
During COVID-19 libraries shifting online: crisis-driven opportunity to innovate (pdf)
COVID-19 has changed the habits of the whole world in terms of living, working, reading. Not a single aspect of life has remained unaffected. Everything has changed the pattern to fight with Covid-19 and develop in a revolutionized way to prepare for the future.
The libraries are not exceptions. It has given the libraries a compulsive opportunity to scale up their online capabilities. If we talk about the role of libraries during a pandemic, then its role is indispensable. 

Efforts by libraries

During a pandemic, when the information chaos is being created by social media, where the information authenticity is not checked by most of the people and circulated among the public, creating fear and havoc sometimes.  These things mislead the general public who don't check the information authenticity every time while forwarding it. Libraries' websites are the best for getting right and authentic online information/updates about the COVID-19.

     Libraries are providing research resources like the latest articles, government reports, datasets, etc. about the COVID-19 for researchers to work on and coming up with new ideas to fight with the pandemic. National Digital Library of India (NDLI) Covid-19 Research Resource Repository is an example of it. Besides this, various publishers like Cambridge University Press, Elseviers, etc. have collaborated with libraries to provide free access to ebooks(Textbooks) and journals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

     For students all over the world affected by the disruption in their studies because of the closing of study institutions, libraries are providing the online reading materials, courses, videos, lectures, e-books, e-journals for free to learn. They are also providing other information services like Inter-Library Loan and referral services.

List of some e-learning portals 

Libraries are revising their websites to bring in more users and showcase the new online digital collection. Besides COVID-19 resources and online free materials, public libraries are also providing different types of timely, accurate, curated information and updating public service information on a local level like city services, public advisories, and health directives and requests.

Libraries for those who are not online

Libraries have been working hard to serve the community under the current situation by providing digital solutions. Still a large number of people are devoid of the online facilities. Libraries have of course been trying to fill this learning divide by physical delivery of books with care and safety measures to those who can not come to the libraries and getting bored during the lockdown. An example of a library reaching out to people at their doorsteps in Mizoram (India) is to make people learn during the lockdown. Ramhlun South YMA Library of an NGO Young Mizo Association(YMA) Aizawl, has launched the book distribution drive in April.

Delhi Public Library,s program of “Ghar-Ghar Dastak, Ghar-Ghar Pustak providing books to senior citizens and ailing readers at their residence has relieved readers from paying fines during the lockdown.

Policies for post-pandemic future of libraries

Besides the policies regarding staff, circulation, physical cleaning, safety and social distancing measures to be taken in libraries. Librarians are now thinking about how they will serve the users once open as the pandemic Covid-19 has turned them to revise policies of libraries. Many webinars are being held across the world to discuss it. Focus is on the topic of serving users, the very aim of every library. Covid-19 pandemic has led the libraries towards promoting the use of digital libraries, potentially investing in more digital content/licenses and the expansion of other online resources.

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