Library Happenings: April 2020

Photo of Snoqualmie Building with daffodils in foreground
Snoqualmie Falls Power House with campus daffodils in full bloom. (Taken April 25, 2020.)

All campus buildings may be closed but the Library continues to serve the UW Tacoma community. 

Over the past month and more, Library staff have rapidly adjusted library services to help faculty and students transition to fully remote learning. We’ve done this while learning ourselves how to better use digital tools for telework. I am consistently impressed with the creativity, resourcefulness, and generosity Library staff bring to their commitment to serving students and engaging in the learning at UW Tacoma, and I couldn’t imagine a better team to be working with as we navigate all the disruptions this global pandemic has brought to our lives and work.

We do miss being onsite with all of you during this season of blooming. Yet the remote work forced upon us by COVID-19 has been an apt reminder that a Library like ours is both a physical space and a virtual one that weaves together interconnected services, programs, and resources. Libraries across the country are adapting themselves to this new context to support their communities and constituencies. As with us, this work is an extension of the ongoing evolution of libraries that was happening even before this crisis started.

With this post, I’m pulling together and highlighting a few examples of the ongoing critical Library work happening amidst all these dramatic changes. We do this work to help our students thrive, to collaborate with faculty and staff to meet their teaching and research goals, and to further the public good that community-engaged campus like UW Tacoma brings.

Supporting students and faculty in transition to remote learning

When the university decided to offer Spring Quarter fully online, library staff quickly understood the importance of streamlining the pathways for connecting with online Library resources. Even before COVID-19, the UW Libraries prided itself on its 24/7 “Ask Us” chat reference service and the extensive collection of online journals, books, videos, and more, but until now, these services have relied in part on in-person staff and access to physical collections. 

We also recognized that most faculty and students were being inundated with an overwhelming amount of information about all the institutional changes as a result of COVID-19. From the middle of March to relatively recently, we decided to dedicate nearly all of our external communications to service continuity and limit messaging to the essential pieces of information, often responding directly to needs that emerged through campus surveys.

For students: At the start of the Spring Quarter, Instruction and Research Help Librarian Johanna Jacobsen Kiciman coordinated the creation of a blog post that identifies all of the remote resources students might need at the start of the quarter. In addition, to continue to support students one-on-one and offer Zoom consultation, librarians and library staff adopted a new system that makes it possible to schedule an appointment with them. We also contributed laptops and calculators from the Library’s lending program to the pool of technology that is being loaned by campus.

For faculty: Before Spring Quarter started, librarians initiated a project to create a single site for faculty to get the information they needed to support online learning and created an Online Learning Guide for Faculty, which is continually updated as needs and services evolve. The start of the quarter led to an increase in instructions requests, and librarians are now collaborating with faculty to deliver instruction in a fully online environment, adapting their practice and often embedding themselves in courses through Canvas.

Getting courses the texts and resources they need

Faculty and students continually rely on the Library for the textbooks, course readings, videos, and other materials. For several years now, we have offered a successful textbook program that automatically acquires and places on course reserves any text that is above $75. The “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order and the closure of university facilities has meant that we cannot circulate any physical materials, but the UW Libraries has increased its budget for online materials, and we are continuing to offer this program, acquiring online formats whenever possible. Serin Anderson, Interim Associate Director, Hannah Wilson, Access Services Manager, and the Access Services staff are instrumental in the success getting faculty and students the resources they need. 

In addition, the Library continues to support the development and creation of Online Educational Resources. Marisa Petrich, Instructional Design Librarian, over Spring Interim, took a group of Communications faculty through a design sprint process to create a shared text for an introductory gateway class. While this is still a work in process, the current circumstances and focus on online instructions highlight how valuable and adaptable OERs can be.The Library is also offering a second round of faculty trainings on Open Educational Resources (OER) this summer, thanks to a UW Tacoma Strategic Initiative Fund Grant. Participants will receive $725 stipends to attend a multi-day, online workshop series the week of June 15 and produce short reports outlining a plan to implement these resources in a UW Tacoma course of their choice. Apply by May 1 to participate. If you’d like to learn more, please contact Marisa.

Real Lit[erature] Book Club is now Real Lit Remote 

First Year Experience Librarian Alaina Bull and librarian Johanna Jacobsen Kiciman are again partnering with the Center for Equity and Inclusion in leading the Real Lit[erature] Book Club, but have transitioned it to a fully online discussion. They selected Misa Sugiura’s This Time Will Be Different, a book with a title that seems appropriate for this moment, and obtained electronic access for everyone. Thirteen students and staff total are participating regularly in drop-in sessions of six to ten students twice a week. The book group is playing an important role in helping students form community on campus and talk about issues of significance to them.

Call for Sharing Culminating Student Work

Do you work with students on their capstone or thesis project? The  Library hosts culminating work of graduating students such as theses and capstone projects in our institutional repository, Digital Commons. (See for example Global Honors Theses.) With completely online instruction this quarter, Digital Scholarship Library Erika Bailey is working  to raise awareness of this opportunity to promote and share culminating student work at the graduate and undergraduate levels. If you’re interested in learning more or ready to invite students to share their culminating work in Digital Commons, fill out this quick form to hear from us.

Participating in Learning Commons Design Process

The design process for renovation of the Snoqualmie and Tioga Library Buildings that will establish a Learning Commons formally kicked off on March 10, 2020. This project will bring together the Center for Equity and Inclusion (CEI), the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), and Library in a single, interconnected facility that will enable us to further integrate our student-centered services, resources, events, and training programs. 

This process started just before the campus formally closed, and this first and then all subsequent meetings have occurred fully online via Zoom to ensure that we follow social distancing restrictions. The design meetings were delayed a few weeks so that the Library staff could focus our energies on supporting faculty and students in the transition to remote learning, then on April 2 the Project Working Team, which has representatives from the CEI, Library, and TLC, began meeting weekly with architects to engage with the design process. The team is starting with the test-fit schemes in the pre-design report and adjusting them to meet the needs of the partners in the Learning Commons.

The campus has opted for a design-build approach to the Learning Commons project. This means that the university has hired a contractor-architect team of Sellen and McGranahan who are working closely to quickly and efficiently design and construct the new spaces. The design process and pre-construction are expected to occur through spring and summer 2020, with construction beginning in early 2021.

It can be a bit disorienting to re-envision the “heart of campus” while the campus stands empty and everyone works from home. We wish we could host onsite events that would enable the campus to engage in the project, but for the time-being, we must use digital tools to connect with each other and share information. Plans are in the works to host an an event in May that will provide faculty and students an update on the project.

In the design process, the Library contributes a perspectives informed by more than two decades of experience serving students and faculty in the Snoqualmie and Tioga Library Buildings and frequent, ongoing assessment of spaces, programs, and services. Library staff are investing a lot of time and energy in this project because we recognize that the design decisions made today will have significant long-term impacts for students, faculty, staff.  The project also offers us a unique opportunity to strengthen relationships with our partners in the Learning Commons, the CEI and TLC. In the coming months, more information will be shared here and across campus about this project.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, I prepared a presentation with Melony Pederson, for the UW Senate Faculty Council on University Libraries, and gave on February 12, 2020:

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