Looking Forward: Creative Library Responses to Crises

February 12, 2021 (10:00am – 3:40pm EST)

As information professionals, we’re always learning and innovating to provide exemplary service. Even so, the past year has been a shock for libraries. The situations we faced required creative changes and evolving solutions as the year unfolded, and libraries responded by assessing unmet needs, collaborating with colleagues to overcome challenges, and designing services to anticipate the unknown. Our presenters, representing a variety of public and private institutions from across the country, will focus on the ways that libraries have adapted, improved, and innovated in response to the COVID-19 crisis or other emergency library-related situations. Come share your experiences and join your library colleagues at the SUNYLA Midwinter Virtual Conference on February 12, 2021 (10:00am – 3:40pm EST).

Technology requirements for attendance: Computer, internet connection, microphone/speakers (headset recommended) or telephone. Zoom will be used for this conference and is free for use by attendees.

You do not need to be a SUNYLA member in order to attend this free conference. Recordings of the sessions will be available shortly after the conference on this webpage.

SUNYLA’s Midwinter Virtual Conference Committee:
Jennifer DeVito, Stony Brook University
Bill Jones, SUNY Geneseo
Jill Locascio, SUNY Optometry (chair)
Carrie Marten, SUNY Purchase
Jessica McGivney, SUNY Farmingdale
Jennifer Parker, SUNY Cortland


10:00 A.M. – 10:30 A.M.

Session 1: Turning Cataloging on Its Head: Using Alma and Java to Expedite Handling of New Materials, by John Myers and Hamza Ghumman (Union College)

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Even though we couldn’t go into work due to the NY Pause, ordering new materials continued. We instituted a series of low-bar record assessments without access to the items so that they could be processed quickly upon eventual return to campus. The closer examination of records that is historically front-loaded is now reserved for review at the end of the cataloging pipeline. Initially working on a record-by-record basis from sets drawn from import jobs, we eventually developed a Java program to extract and assess the catalog data for further efficiencies as we navigate the COVID (and post-COVID) environment.

10:30 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.

Session 2: Adapt, Reflect, Repeat: Moving Quickly to Keep Library Services Running, by Ken Wierzbowski, Erin Sharwell, and Dana Laird (SUNY Brockport)

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Like most libraries, the Drake Memorial Library at SUNY Brockport had to move quickly to adapt our approach in the face of the pandemic, utilizing new technologies, and the tools already at our disposal in new ways, to allow us to offer services and access to resources to meet the needs of our patrons. Learn about how we implemented a contact tracing swipe card system, reservation system, contactless pickup process, and book chapter scanning request process so that patrons could safely and effectively use our collections and our building during the pandemic. Technologies were also used for collection analysis and communication to allow for decision making and information dissemination of our services and electronic collection cancellations. Discussion will include what worked, what didn’t go as smoothly, and what we learned that can be utilized for library services and collections going forward.

11:00 A.M. – 11:10 A.M.

Break (10 minutes)

11:10 A.M. – 11:40 A.M.

Session 3: Using Interactive Tutorials and Digital Technology to Teach Students How to Read a Scientific Study Article, by Madeline Ruggiero (Queensborough Community College)

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I create online tutorials using LibWizard to promote student learning in an asynchronous online environment. Digital technology is used to teach synchronous online information literacy to classes in psychology. Students are often asked to find and interpret scholarly, academic, or study articles in psychology and the sciences. They often fail to grasp the language and writing format of these disciplines. I use this interactive self paced tutorial to transition my face to face lesson plans on how to read a study article, followed by a digital annotation reading tool.

As a librarian liaison to the psychology department I partner with the psychology faculty to integrate library instruction and the effective use of online tutorials into the coursework. The tutorial uses different types of interactivity to promote student learning in an online environment. Static screenshots with directions allow students to work along with the tutorial to apply what they are learning. These tutorials are configured so that students move forward at their own pace. The interactivity includes a quiz or self-assessment embedded in the tutorial. Research has proven that using tutorials to teach online is the most useful strategy for remote learning.

I create a strong scaffold for students by flipping the information literacy class. Before the students attend the library session, they view and interact with the split screen tutorial on how to read the components of a study article. They are introduced to details defining the components that make up a scientific article such as the Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion section. Students learn by practicing the material in small pieces. Students must demonstrate the mastery of the material through performance and must interact with the material to move it forward. I use part of the class time to showcase subject databases and the limiters available to ensure a retrieval of scientific articles. I build upon what students learned before coming to the library class and present them with more sophisticated and in depth knowledge about how to read parts of the scientific article for greater comprehension. Students are given tips on the order in which to read these components to gain a better understanding of the context.

Previous literature suggests a relationship between the ability of note taking and academic achievement. A free annotation tool, called hypothes.is, is installed during the library class for collaborative reading. This tool enables highlighting of text and sentence level note taking onto the empirical article during a synchronous online class. The material is presented in multiple formats (concept mapping, sketching, visualization, transformation of data, creative experimental design) allowing students to gain a deep understanding of the methods that underlie each individual study of the article. This provides multiple means of engagement to learn about research design and statistical analysis.

11:40 A.M. – 12:10 P.M.

Session 4: Designing for Adaptability: A Modular Approach to Library Instruction, by Max Thorn and Leila Walker (Queens College)

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Queens College librarians were in the process of revising our library instruction program for English 110, a required first-year composition course that runs over 100 sections a year, when CUNY shifted to remote instruction in March 2020. While the pandemic response rendered many of our instruction materials obsolete, we found that our revised curriculum and delivery methods, which emphasized modular lesson plans, increased asynchronous materials, and interactive synchronous activities, enabled us to adapt more readily to the new instruction environment.

This presentation reflects on the course of revisions to both curriculum and delivery away from an in-person, synchronous one-shot model, toward a “flipped classroom” approach that draws on the ACRL Framework, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and the principles of Open Educational Resources to promote higher-order information literacy.

We assess the successes and failures of our program so far, and suggest how curricular changes developed during the COVID-19 crisis can prepare us to adapt our instruction materials in the future.

12:10 P.M. – 1:00 P.M.


1:00 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.

Session 5: Evidence Based Decision Making with LibInsights, by Sharon Whitfeld (Rider University)

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During the Covid-19 pandemic, many libraries were asked to make cuts to their library resources. In order to engage in assessment activities and determine where to make cuts, Rider University used Springshare’s data collection tool, LibInsight. LibInsight is a tool that allows us to visualize, evaluate, and assess usage statistics. LibInsight also provides us evidence if a resource is being used and the cost per use. This presentation will discuss how Rider University uses this tool in decision making about electronic resources.

1:30 P.M. – 2:00 P.M.

Session 6: Coming Together in Crisis: How ILL and Acquisitions Formed a New Partnership to Meet User Needs, by Jane Excell and Phoebe Walker (New York University)

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For years, the idea of purchase on demand for ILL requests has been regularly talked about at NYU, but with little movement. Although both the ILL and Acquisitions departments worked to fill patron requests in different ways, they operated with little-to-no interdepartmental communication. When COVID-19 hit, conversations around this topic accelerated and the two departments collaborated for the first time to fulfill patron requests remotely as a team, using new automation and leveraging staff expertise in each department. From the success of this initiative, we are continuing to collaborate on requests, and have successfully provided digital fulfillment for over 500 items since the start of the pandemic. This presentation will outline the pre-COVID relationship between these departments, describe the formation of an interdepartmental team to fill patron requests remotely, including the technologies and workflows utilized, and examine the long-term changes this collaboration brought about in both departments.

2:00 P.M. – 2:10 P.M.

Break (10 minutes)

2:10 P.M. – 2:40 P.M.

Session 7: Why didn’t we do this before? Examining, Implementing and Evaluating Changes in Library Services, by Shikha Joseph, Lisa Errico, and Leslie Wong Loock (Nassau Community College)

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We will be presenting on changes in library services with streaming media, reference, and resource management. An overview of the streaming media at NCC in light of a new Kanopy budget. Changing the streaming media request process, managing the new workflow and implementing alternative resources for streaming media. New changes in research and instruction services with full remote chat and no librarians onsite. Creating tutorials and videos for faculty and students on the most requested content or service. New options for information literacy sessions including pre-recorded video content, Zoom class, tailored libguide or tutorial, and one-on-one appointments with students. An overview of these new services, managing and continued use of these in the future.

2:40 P.M. – 3:10 P.M.

Session 8: Starting a home and locker delivery service for your library in a pandemic, by Christina Hennessey (California State University, Northridge (CSUN))

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Due to the University Library being physically closed in the 2020-2021 academic year, the CSUN library still wanted to provide a way to get physical library items to our 47,000 active users. We made many changes to our Alma & Primo system to allow for home delivery of library items to students, faculty, and staff in Fall 2020, and will add delivering library items to 24/7-available outdoor library lockers in Spring 2021. This presentation will explain policy decisions, workflow changes, training of staff remotely, making a library system communicate with a locker system, and the implications of trying to do all this implementation during California’s stay-at-home orders.

3:10 P.M. – 3:40 P.M.

Session 9: Advocating for Social Justice and Diverse Voices in the Virtual World, by Jo-Ann Wong (Queens Public Library) and Annie Tummino (Queens College Libraries, CUNY)

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Queens Memory is a local community archiving and oral history project, co-administered by Queens Public Library and Queens College, CUNY. Due to safety measures against COVID-19, all projects and programs were required to move to a virtual setting. While under these restricted measures, members from both institutions found an opportunity to embark on a collaborated virtual event series on social media for our respective library communities. This series covered current events and their historical contexts, social justice, and creating positive social change. For our topics and speakers, we made sure that the diversity and lived experiences of affected communities were represented, and that speakers included both academic scholars and students. By organizing these events as roundtable discussions, we were able to have dynamic dialogues amongst panelists, with opportunities for audience questions. To reach the greatest number of community attendees [and not restrict access and outreach to only academia], we hosted these programs on the Queens Memory Facebook Live page. By streaming on Facebook Live, the content was easy to view, share, and re-watch. And, attendees did not need an account or to register, in order to watch. As such, this allowed us to inform a larger demographic than a closed platform [like many traditional virtual academic programming] would. To host our speakers, we used a third party platform called Streamyard to stream our events to Facebook. This platform ensured quality streaming, easier screen layout changes of presenters, audience interaction, and quality recordings of both video and audio files of the event. In addition, the platform did not require speakers to have a Facebook account, allowing us a wider reach of possible speakers. Overall, this public/academic partnership led to a virtual library event series that brought much needed discussions to a wider audience that extended beyond the academic, informed our communities about urgent social and civic issues, and provided historical context for this unprecedented moment in time.

Our events were:

Model Minority vs COVID-19: Asians in America
The Black Lives Matter Movement & Anti-Racism in Public Higher Education
Fighting for the Future: Political Engagement & Student Leadership
Power and Oppression in the Archive: Building a Diverse Historical Record Through Oral History

3:40 P.M.

Wrap up