This post was written by Kimberley R. Barker.
Over the course of the last year, most people and institutions have had to rethink how they move through the world; from grocery shopping to transportation, as well as processing the pressures of social distancing and quarantining, the past year has been a logistical and emotional challenge. The Health Sciences Library, on both an organizational and individual level, faced those same challenges. Thanks to technology and the desire to maintain our high level of service, we're happy to know that we met (and in some cases, exceeded) our own standards. Our staff has taught classes, assisted with research projects, processed Interlibrary Loan requests, answered questions, ensured access to our collections, conducted systematic reviews, and completed the many other tasks that make up our contributions to UVA Health- and we did all of this while Grounds was closed.
The Library was closed, and yet the Library was open.
The shift in our thinking began there, but that's not where it ended.
This isn't meant to be a braggy post about our work over the last year; instead, it's meant to provide insight into our reflection about what it means to be "open" and what it means to be "closed" and how that will affect our communications. In Pre-COVID/Quarantine Times, when we announced that the Library would be "closed", it meant both that staff would not be present and that most of the Library would be inaccessible to the UVA Health community. Now, in the Middle(?)-Pandemic Times, we realize that instead of thinking in terms of "closed" and "open", it makes more sense (given the changes in how we serve you), to think in terms of whether library services and library spaces are "available" or "unavailable". Fittingly, it was the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, a time meant for solemn reflection and remembrance, which brought this idea to the forefront of our minds once again.
The limitations that the pandemic placed on the Library ultimately led to greater openness; for instance, "the 24-Hour area" used to indicate a small section of the Library which hosts UVA Health computers and few other amenities; now, though, in an effort to better serve our community, "the 24-Hour area" has expanded to include ALL of the Library, excepting the Cabell Room and the Library's staff areas. Every other space is available to those who have a UVA Health identification badge, meaning that you can study in the booths in the lobby if you like, or claim a table in the quiet study area overlooking JPA. Do you prefer to stick to the original 24-Hour space so that you can have access to the HIT computers? You got it. You can even choose to set up in the MILL, the open concept area downstairs with its brightly-colored walls and furniture on wheels.
The Library staff who work at the Service Desk are now there from 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM, Monday-Friday (and the librarians follow basically the same schedule), which is a change from Pre-Pandemic Times. The coverage change also reflected public health policy in terms of social distancing, and its continuance is based on years' worth of gate counts and patron interaction data.
Given all of this, and in our never-ending search for precision (we ARE a LIBRARY, after all!), you'll notice a change in how we communicate the Library's status to you:
If Library services are available, it means that staff will be physically present.
If Library services are NOT available, it means that staff will not be at work either onsite or remotely.
In either case, because most of the Library space has been designated 24-Hour access, it WILL be available to those with UVA Health identification cards.
So, on Monday, May 31st, when Memorial Day will be observed, Library services will not be available but the physical space will (with your UVA Health badge).
We hope that this information helps. If you have questions, please contact Dan Wilson, Associate Director for Collections & Library Services / School of Nursing Librarian: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
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Charlottesville, VA 22908 (Directions)
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