EduCampus supports library systems during COVID-19 pandemic
EduCampus were invited to showcase a poster at the Quality and Qualifications Ireland 10-year anniversary conference at Croke Park, Dublin, in October 2022. Under the theme: Opportunities from crisis: action resulting from learnings following the pandemic and how these can enhance future programme delivery/educational provision, the poster highlighted the additional support and assistance EduCampus provided to library staff and patrons during the COVID-19 lockdown.
In March 2020, the Irish government announced that all businesses should work remotely were possible, and that all further and higher education campuses should close. In response, EduCampus and our library supplier immediately invoked our business continuity plans to ensure that this would impact our services in the least way possible.
As part of EduCampus’ plan, all libraries were contacted to advise and assure that the EduCampus and Library supplier service was fully available and would not be impacted by this announcement. During this difficult time for our colleagues in the Library, EduCampus kept in constant contact to offer any supports and assistance needed to ensure their staff and patrons were able to adapt and access the library system and resources remotely.
While libraries have been offering a blended approach with a mixture of online and traditional resources for many years, this sudden lockdown and closure of campuses resulted in a necessary pivot to online only resources. The smooth transition to this way of working was supported by the Koha LMS, and the supplementary library systems - EDS, Booked, PC Reservation and WordPress. These highly available cloud-based systems and infrastructure allowed for 24/7 access to critical online resources for the users.
As a result of the physical library closures, patrons were unable to return their physical materials however, using the Koha LMS circulations functionality and with support from the LMS supplier, the libraries were able to overcome these constraints. Configuration changes to extend borrowing arrangements, suspend fines and holds for all patrons, and to suspend reminder and overdue notices were put in place to alleviate the constraints.
During this period the supplier also provided additional assistance and training to libraries who were expanding their usage of the Koha LMS to accommodate changed requirements due to the pandemic. Some examples of this additional assistance include handling of “lost” items, changing renewal settings in circulation module, changing messaging preferences, managing autorenewals, managing of holds, configuring ILL functionality, creating, and amending reports, use of MARC modification templates, editing frameworks, adding MARC fields, importing records, how to batch delete records, how to batch change due dates etc.
The EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) for searching, locating, and accessing the libraries e-resource subscriptions was extended to make more e-resources available. The LMS supplier aided the libraries were needed to ensure end users could access all these available e-resources.
Libraries were able to quickly update content on their WordPress websites, adding notices about changes to services and directing users to online resources (including resources about coronavirus and health and wellbeing).
The Booked system facilitated the setup of “click and collect” service during the early lockdown stages. During the phased return to campus, when patrons were returning to the library under new socially distanced restrictions, the Booked system was used by patrons to book designated desks.
Some libraries also used the PC Reservation system to facilitate the booking of desks with PCs for those patrons who needed to use the library under new socially distanced restrictions.
Learning from this experience EduCampus has adapted its approach and continued to support the Library community, even as the higher education sector transitions back to on-campus delivery, improving access to key Library resources for all users across the client community.