Following the retirement of longtime University Librarian Gwen Arthur, Laura Robinson took the helm of Clark’s Robert H. Goddard Library in February. But she assumed more than just the leadership of the University’s knowledge hub — she also inherited a developing crisis.
After a few weeks of adjustment in her new position, Robinson and her staff joined the rest of the Clark campus in finding ways to meet the challenge presented by COVID-19, giving Clarkies the resources needed to finish off the semester remotely.
“This crisis has been an exercise in prioritizing and focusing on what is most important in librarianship,” she said. “That means listening carefully to the community one serves and being nimble in offering that community the services and collections it needs, even in challenging circumstances.”
Library staff spent several weeks feverishly scanning print materials and adding to online holdings to complement remote learning. “In just a couple of weeks, they scanned and uploaded the reserve books faculty needed for their courses — almost ten thousand pages — so that students are able to remotely access all of the knowledge required by their professors,” Robinson said.
“The staff at Goddard, including our dedicated student employees, have been such a positive force,” she added.
Lawrence Bolduc ’17, the library’s reserves supervisor, mobilized a team of staff and students to scan required course materials, Robinson said. “In addition to using the library’s high-quality scanners, staff and students who were working at home — in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, or socially distancing in their homes around Worcester — scanned print materials using cell phone apps and delivered them to the faculty and students who needed them.”
Several librarians also gathered lists of open access book collections and educational resources to share with faculty. In addition, Ed McDermott, systems librarian, secured temporary free access to books, journals, and streaming video collections for faculty and students. An online guide to help the Clark community navigate library resources for the remainder of the semester can be found here.
“While the crisis leaves us without the ability to share our well-used spaces, our services and the vast majority of our collections remain available online through the dedication of our staff, who often make the whole library operation look like magic,” says Robinson. “We know this is an extremely challenging time for students. We miss them very much, and our whole staff is cheering them on. As always, we are here for them, no matter where they are.”