Fifty-five hours was the time that the UCR Library had to convert its operations to a completely-remote mode—from when the Riverside County Public Health Officer’s order to close all county campuses due to the COVID-19 crisis was received at close of business on Friday, March 13, 2020, to the moment it went into effect at midnight on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
You would be proud of the extraordinary efforts that the UCR Library staff took to make that transition and the efforts that they went to support teaching, learning, and research in this new reality. I know that I am.
Some of the highlights of those extraordinary efforts include:
1) With less than two weeks’ notice, the library’s Teaching & Learning and Research Services units stepped up to help XCITE, the campus’s teaching and learning operation, convert thousands of in-person classes to remote teaching mode, working with many faculty who had never before taught remotely;
2) Numerous additional staff throughout the library worked for XCITE to caption faculty and other instructional videos, and also served as XCITE exam proctors for spring midterms and finals;
3) Research Services staff continued to help faculty and students in their research efforts, and also 3-D printed key parts needed for protective face shields for local hospitals;
4) Access Services staff began digitizing increased numbers course reserves and making the content available online; others implemented the first curbside delivery of books and other physical materials implemented in the UC system;
(4) Staff in Special Collections continued to answer reference questions and provide digital copies of items needed by our researchers around the world;
(5) Our Preservation department staff began using the library’s digitization equipment to scan title pages from incoming physical books and sending them to the catalogers working from home to continue describing the research collections that the library is continuing to acquire;
(6) The library’s Multimedia Services operation continued to reformat motion picture and other media content for our faculty to be able to use in their courses.
These are just a few of the inventive and heroic steps taken by staff from across the library to ensure that we can continue to provide the information sources our researchers need to be fully productive in their research, teaching, and learning initiatives. There are many others in the library who equally deserve praise for their ingenuity, resilience, and creativity in rethinking how to continue providing excellent service while working from home.
The UCR Library staff have proven once again how dedicated and resourceful they are. If the old adage that one should never let a good disaster go to waste, then I can confidently say that my colleagues have not only risen to the occasion, but are rethinking how we can re-engineer how we can provide robust services to the academic community of UCR whether on campus or studying from the other side of the planet. This is a story not of tragedy but of triumph.
May you and your loved ones be safe and healthy. And remember: whether we are working on campus or from our homes, we are here to ensure the success of the faculty, researchers, graduate, and undergraduate students of the University of California, Riverside.