Over the weekend, as we struggled to identify ways to maintain our current functions while also keeping our community safe and developing new services for distance learning, it became increasingly clear that we needed to close Burling Library to all users. The library staff and I are passionate about libraries as places of empowerment and open access to knowledge, so it was difficult for us to imagine closing and turning away users, but our current scenario presents unique challenges and we believe this is a necessary step. As announced in the Covid-19 Update on March 16, we will be closing to students as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17 and to faculty and staff as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18.
Why are we closing Burling?
- Continuity of academic instruction is of utmost importance and the digital library and the services we can provide to remote users (e.g., digital access, virtual research consultations, scans of ILL items and physical books, additional e-reserve readings posted for classes, assisting DLAC with Wordpress sites, etc.) are essential to ALL of our students and faculty. We do not want to endanger that broader need by providing some special services to a few users.
- The College is trying to be consistent in its message encouraging social distancing and we believe having one academic building open would send a mixed message and be counter-productive to our public health efforts.
- By allowing some students access to advanced computer programs, the print collections, and additional resources on campus, we would actually be disadvantaging all the other students who do not have access to those resources. Normally, we celebrate libraries as a driver for equality, but in this special situation, we believe it could actually become a source of inequity. Therefore, we prefer that all of our services and resources become digital/virtual and we are entirely consistent in what we can offer to ALL students.
- As with so many other groups across campus, the Libraries are stretched to re-imagine our services in a distance learning environment at the same time many of our staff are self-isolating due to recent travel or illness. We want to be able to focus our limited staffing on distance learning initiatives (e.g., fielding requests for additional course readings).
We are very sorry that we will need to close Burling. We hope you can visit in the next day or two to check out items you need or review potential items for course reserves. We will be paging books from the collection for local faculty and staff and making those available at a pickup location.
What additional steps are the Libraries taking to support distance learning and support faculty, staff, and students?
We are developing new services, such as virtual research consultations via WebEx and scanning materials in our print collection to send you digitally. We’ll have greater flexibility in what we can post to support your classes. Details about these services are still emerging, but we will be posting more information as soon as possible on our emerging Distance Learning Guide, which complements the Instructional Continuity guide (login required) that the CTLA has compiled. This is a great place to watch for news and find answers to some of your questions. Of course, please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the librarians with questions and suggestions.
Thank you for your support and understanding as we transition to facilitate distance learning.