Latest service and space updates: VCU Libraries COVID-19 response

'Virtual Libraries' video showcases new services, expertise, and digital materials during Covid-19 distancing

April 28, 2020

The faculty and staff of VCU Libraries continued to work full time during the Covid-19 campus closing to provide students and faculty with the materials and expertise they need to succeed in remote learning and teaching. This video captures a few examples of this work, which included: 

  • Doubled the hours of online chat-based assistance for students and faculty to 107 hours a week (7am to midnight Monday-Friday); expanded email hours.
  • Scanned 20 course textbooks (5,773 pages) or provided digital versions to faculty on request, including Focused Inquiry textbooks for UNIV 111 and 112. The FI textbooks are now available digitally to over 2,000 students.
  • Purchased more than 15,000 new titles at a cost of over $200,000 specifically to support online instruction, including high-demand streaming video titles and ebooks.
  • Provided access points, authorization processes and instructions for access to thousands of digital textbooks and other course materials temporarily opened to our students by publishers, including over 35,000 JSTOR ebook titles and 26 JSTOR archives in public health; Sage Research Methods videos, Sage Knowledge Books, Sage Reference (focuses on Social Sciences and STEM fields); and hundreds of titles from Art & Architecture ePortal, Bloomsbury Publishing, and Harvard Business Review eBooks.
  • Fielded more than 500 online requests for assistance, research consultation, and instruction between March 16 (the first day of remote teaching) and March 31. We continue to answer hundreds of research questions weekly by chat, text, email, phone and in Zoom consultations. 
  • Through April 3, when staff was ordered to stay-at-home, retrieved print items from on-site and in-storage collections and shipped them to faculty and students on request.
  • Continued to fulfill interlibrary loan and document delivery requests for digital materials from our collections and from other libraries and document suppliers.
  • Partnered with Technology Services to send laptops to students. VCU Libraries supplemented the university‚Äôs laptop inventory with laptops drawn from library classrooms and reconfigured for student use. Library staff packaged and shipped computers, working closely with VCU Technology Services.
  • Partnered with VCU School of the Arts and VCU Technology Services to purchase Adobe Creative Cloud licenses for use by students.
  • Maintained access to Scholars Compass for graduate students to submit electronic theses and dissertations.
  • Collaborated with the Office of Vice President for Research and Innovation to provide an online platform for undergraduate student research posters, providing a crucial capability for displaying and accessing work in the absence of the yearly in-person VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program event.
  • Sustained uninterrupted work on Open and Affordable Initiative to provide free or low-cost cost materials to students. For spring 2020, the Initiative saved 7,257 course enrollments in 95 courses at a conservatively estimated $882,000 in textbook costs. For the entire academic year of 2019-20, the initiative has saved 11,518 course enrollments in 121 courses and an estimated $1.251 million in textbook costs.
  • Extended the due date for all loans of library materials to August 28. Everyone who had materials checked out of VCU Libraries has been notified.

Read University Public Affairs feature story about the libraries' enhanced services during the COVID-19 closing.

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