Recent events of the COVID-19 outbreak too close to home caused Northampton Community College to shut down and therefore Library services have been moved strictly online. Seeing as the campuses are closed, there will be no access to services and materials such as print books, journals, and audiovisual items, but the college and library staff took several measures in order to continue supporting students in their studies. “All of the Library’s databases and online research guides are still available 24 hours a day,” Anne Bittner, Cataloging Librarian, said. They’re also turning to Blackboard Collaborate to virtually connect with students. “Blackboard Collaborate allows the librarians to show students their computer screens while chatting, so we can guide you through the various databases and their features,” said Bittner.
She recommended that students start with the new Online Library Services guide when doing research. This way they’ll be able to link to the online chat and have access to research materials and free e-books.
This change will also impact students with disabilities and others who find taking exams and tests in the library more effective. This isn’t something that’s in the staff ’s control and there’s not much they can do about it. Bittner said, “It’s a good idea for students to contact their instructors directly to ask how they want to handle exams, especially if the student has a disability that allows them a testing accommodation.”
It’s understandable that while on campus, some students preferred the quiet of the library to get work done. “While they’re home,” Bittner said, “it may be difficult to find a block of time to be alone, or quiet.” So, she suggested that turning off the television and staying away from social media for a couple of hours each day would be beneficial. Also, using earbuds or headphones can block out the noise.
“Make a list of tasks you need to finish each day, and stick to your plan as best you can,” Bittner said. “Be sure to eat at your usual mealtimes and get a good sleep.”
This adjustment didn’t just take a toll on students but also the librarians. Bittner explained that her job was a mixture of working with physical materials and online resources and now, “It feels like half my job is missing right now!”
However, she doesn’t see it as a total loss because there are lots of online tools that help the staff to accommodate students. It’s not as personal, she said, but it’s a new experience for the librarians and they’re learning more and adapting to these new ways by working together online.
Students can email askthelibrarian@ northampton.edu if they have more questions or need help with research. They can also set up a private appointment online or by phone. Visit the Online Library Service guide at https://libguides.northampton. edu/onlinelibraryservices. For more information about taking exams if a student has a disability, contact the disability services, firstname.lastname@example.org.