While the shift to remote learning due to COVID-19 was a learning curve for some, the Diane M. Halle Library was well-prepared.
Library Director Brian Courtemanche says that the library has been moving in this direction for a while now. “We have witnessed the growth of the graduate program over the years—going from just a couple of programs to a multitude of programs which eventually led to the development of doctoral programming. The vast majority of these programs are hybrid or entirely online with students around the globe, so our communication with them has always been electronic and we have constantly sought out new ways to best assist them.” Courtemanche says that coronavirus is just another opportunity for the Halle Library to “put a new spin on their services.”
Reference Librarian Bridget Cunio agrees. “In a way, we were kind of built for this.” Cunio says that her job has remained “business as usual” with no real hiccups due to the coronavirus disruption. While she would occasionally receive requests for in-person meetings, most communication was digital. And thanks to technology like Zoom, Cunio is still able to meet any “in-person” needs. She says that even with the uptick in requests that the end-of-semester brings, the Halle Library is well-suited to provide students with what they need, promptly, so that they finish up strong.
Courtemanche and Cunio have both worked with professors directly since the College transitioned to remote learning in March. While Cunio would typically lead in-class trainings on how to access and use databases for research, she has alternatively created “how to” documents that professors can post to Canvas for students. Courtemanche has worked with professors to ensure that students have access to online news sources and connects them with his appropriate staff member to best assist with research or other needs.
Courtemanche says that the Halle Library is always seeking new ways to improve their services, but during a time when there was a lot of uncertainty, the Library has been available, engaged, and ready to help at any capacity. “We’re student-oriented. We’ve been consistent and friendly. We’ve been that ‘smooth sailing’ in students' lives so that they don’t need to worry about access to materials in addition to other anxieties during this time.” In addition, through a partnership with North of Boston Library Exchange (NOBLE), the Halle Library is able to turnaround digital materials within minutes of a request.
While the Halle Library has had sufficient practice in providing services in a hybrid environment, the physical space is still a very important component to who they are. “We always want to be that destination to students,” says Courtemanche. In fact, over the last year, the Halle Library has made significant progress in its student programming such as “Therapy Dog Thursdays,” an initiative that was spearheaded by Coordinator of Library User Services Laurie Souza to help alleviate stress for students. The Halle Library is looking forward to seeing students back on campus when it is safe and time allows.
To learn more about the Halle Library’s services, visit endicott.edu/library.