In an effort to encourage Library staff to adopt better tools for work processes- beyond email and face-to-face meetings- the Library Information Technology staff regularly (and for many years) investigated progressive communication and collaboration technologies.
During these on-going investigations, the members of the IT team aspired to be received as enterprising pioneers but instead felt more like pushy door-to-door salespeople. While there was always general enthusiasm for new and emerging technologies, adoption was sometimes slow- after all, most staff had established tried-and-true methods for supporting library patrons.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything and, in my opinion, technologically speaking, changed it for the better. The threat to individual health and safety (as well as government and institutional mandates) forced us to work remotely, which in turn forced a technological culture change. Library staff adopted a variety of tools in the areas of web conferencing, cloud-based storage, collaborative online workspaces, and suddenly the IT team was awash in requests for help and training- and not just from Library colleagues.
We were clearly all in this together, so it was important for the team to help both inwardly and outwardly and so the Library IT team quickly responded to help and support our department faculty and staff, hospital patrons, and others across the University as follows:
1. We joined the UVA Online 2020 Support Team to help over 1,400 UVA classes transition from in-person to virtual (online). This involved volunteering as technology assistants for online classes and helping with designing and training instructors in the effective use of new tools.
2. We launched new bootcamp training classes in three areas:
a. Web conferencing using tools such as Webex, Zoom, MS Teams
b. Project management using tools such as Office 365, Collab, and 3rd party tools like Trello.
c. Asynchronous and synchronous training using tools such as Zoom, Panopto, and Collab
3. We joined with the UVA Telemedicine department to help provide Webex support for hospital faculty and staff.
4. As a certified Project Management Professional, I was qualified to join the UVA Project Management Community of Practice and help mentor colleagues who found themselves managing new responsibilities
5. We joined the Medical Education team to teach faculty how to use Panopto.
6. We joined the Faculty Development team and taught a series of Zoom classes for School of Medicine professors.
In concert with the aforementioned institutional efforts, the IT team readied library faculty and staff with at-home computing solutions, developed a remote staff computing support plan, and established remote services to manage all in-library computers remotely.
We continued to provide technology consultations but transitioned all in-person consults to online. Among the most popular requests were:
1. video production training and editing services; Library videographer Stephanie Fielding moved these consultations to Zoom.
2. tools such as Zoom, Webex, Panopto, and Office 365
3. the Library’s Technology Developer, Anson Parker, began investigating pandemic response tools such as location mapping for contact avoidance, coordinating with teams using GPS locating tracking, and improving IT support through Contract Avoidance Protocol.
The transition was an incredible amount of work, but very rewarding overall. The IT team has helped a record number of patrons during the last three months, which taught us a lot about our own abilities and capacities. While most faculty and staff in and outside of the Library have adjusted to the tools necessary for remote work, the IT team continues to embrace the ongoing challenge of developing progressive approaches to serving faculty, staff, and patrons with value-added technology services, while also meeting pandemic safety guidelines.
If you have questions about any of the projects discussed here, please fill out the “Ask Us” form and someone will contact you shortly.