The COVID epidemic and its impacts in 2020 and 2021 had a dramatic effect on academic libraries and the vendor ecosystem that provides online information resources to them. Vendors waived inflationary increases on existing subscriptions and the USMAI Library Consortium also reduced fees, resulting in a significant one-time cost savings for the USMAI Library.
The Library collaborated with the Learning Management and Classroom Experience (LMCE) group on a project to identify ebook titles to purchase using these funds. Most expenses for the Library are based on annual subscriptions, but individual ebooks can be purchased from several vendors for a one-time payment. This allows for continual access to the titles without ongoing expense. A project committee was formed and included representatives from the schools, Course Development, and the Library.
The project committee created a survey form to gather information from Program Directors on ebooks that would be useful for use as course materials in their classes. Only ebooks that allowed an unlimited number of students to access at one time, met accessibility requirements, and were downloadable were considered for the project. Courses that needed improvements to the resources provided were prioritized.
The survey was provided to all Program Chairs in March and April of 2021. A total of 104 ebooks were purchased for use as course resources and made available for use in classes. In addition, the Library purchased a collection of 1792 titles from the publisher Gale. This collection contains titles through 2019 and includes Gale encyclopedias covering many areas of the UMGC curriculum, business plan handbooks and company information resources which will be useful for business-related programs, and resources on authors, biographies, and the arts.
Academic programs that benefited from the new ebook additions include business and management, health, finance, psychology, sociology, project management, and computer science/IT-related disciplines. These high-quality resources selected by Program Directors and Librarians are useful for course readings, assignments, and for individual library research use by all UMGC students, faculty, and staff.
UMGC librarians are constantly seeking ways to make it easier for students, faculty, and staff to connect with the Library and obtain assistance in using its resources and conducting research. To that end, the UMGC Library recently implemented a floating chat box that library users will see when they access any of the pages on the Library's website. It works like this: During regular business hours when chat is available, a few seconds after a user accesses a page on the library's website a box pops up with this message: "Do you need help? A librarian is online ready to help." Users then have the option to click on two buttons: "Chat Now" or "No Thanks." If the user chooses "Chat Now," he or she is connected to the available librarian.
Librarians concluded that a floating chat box alerting users to available assistance is likely to be more easily noticed and would encourage patrons to contact the library for help. Recent statistics measuring library usage have borne this out. Since the floating chat box has been implemented, there has been a noticeable increase in patrons contacting the library for research assistance. Librarians will continue to monitor chat and email statistics to obtain a fuller picture of how the floating chat box has impacted the reference services provided by the Library.
As always, comments or suggestions are welcome!
Systems & Electronic Resources Librarian John Coogan contributed to an article entitled "Electronic Resources Management in the Time of COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities Experienced by Six Academic Libraries" to be published in a forthcoming volume of the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship.
Lowe, R. A., Chirombo, F., Coogan, J. F., Dodd, A., Hutchinson, C., & Nagata, J. (2021). Electronic resources management in the time of COVID-19: Challenges and opportunities experienced by six academic libraries. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 33(3). https://doi.org/10.1080/1941126X.2021.1949162
Reference and Instruction Librarian Megan Davis and Digital Asset Services Librarian Mariette Largess presented Current Normal of Long-Term Work-Life Balance in 2020 at The Emergency Home Learning (& More) Summit, presented by the Learning Revolution.
Assistant Director, Public Services Julie Harding presented Managing a Virtual Team During a Global Pandemic: Tips for Success, at the 2021 Towson Conference for Academic Libraries.
Digital Asset Services Librarian Mariette Largess, and Reference and Instruction Librarians Edward O'Donnell and Colleen Quinn presented Business as Usual at the UMGC Library: An Update on Full-Time Telework Reference at the 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting of the Council of Academic Library Directors. The presentation was a follow-up to a 2020 presentation in which the librarians described how the UMGC Library quickly adjusted to providing reference and library instruction after moving to a full telework model due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reference and Instruction Librarian Edward O'Donnell's website review of MyMoney.gov for the Internet Resources column of Public Services Quarterly was accepted for publication and will appear in the journal's December issue.
Reference and Instruction Librarians Edward O'Donnell and Cynthia Thomes gave a Faculty Development presentation about business resources available in the UMGC Library in 2020.
Associate Vice President, UMGC Library Stephen Miller and Reference and Instruction Librarians Robert Miller and Cynthia Thomes gave a Faculty Development presentation discussing updates to APA citation style in 2020.
Reference and Instruction Librarian Cynthia Thomes gave a presentation at the Towson Conference for Academic Libraries entitled Pivoting...to a New Way to Work with Doctoral Students in 2021.
Reference and Instruction Librarian Cynthia Thomes gave a presentation on Scopus to UMGC faculty, May 2021.
Reference and Instruction Librarian Robert Miller gave a presentation on APA 7th edition to UMGC faculty, May 2021.
Digital Asset Services Librarian Mariette Largess is working with UMGC's Office of Diversity and Equity to encourage reading and support the University's mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion among the UMGC community. The University has made available the Bookstack app (powered by Beanstack), found in Google Play and iOS App stores. The app helps to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion by exposing readers to books that feature people and characters with widely diverse background and stories.
Ms. Largess's role in the initiative involves creating reading lists that reflect the unique heritages of specific groups. Oftentimes, the list will correspond to the month when a specific group is celebrated.
For more information on signing up for and using BookStack please visit the Engage Page.
The UMGC Library provides library liaison services to UMGC faculty. We welcome the opportunity to work closely with faculty to provide tailored library services for individual classes, whether it be visiting your online or face-to-face class, assisting in adding information literacy components to specific course assignments or projects, or providing handouts or online resources customized to your discipline or current course topic. Please keep the liaison librarians in mind when you have library related questions, need extra help with research, or need instruction on how to use our resources.
Research assignments may prove difficult for students who have limited experience with conducting college-level research. Based on UMGC librarians’ extensive work helping students with research assignments, we offer Research Assignment Guidelines for faculty for effective assignment design.
Please complete the Faculty Request for Library Instruction form to schedule one or more sessions for your classes.
Need instruction but don't have time to schedule a facilitated session? Consider adding a stand-alone instruction module to your online classroom or add a link to the Library Research Tutorial. Please contact your library liaison for more information.
We look forward to working with you!