Like most aspects of society, Binghamton University Libraries have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. In mid-March, the University converted to online classes, and the Libraries went online-only as well. We are able to provide reference service, support course reserves and obtain scanned copies of articles and chapters through our interlibrary loan service. However, physical access to the Libraries, including our extensive print collection, is not possible at this time.
The decision to close was not made lightly. While virtual services mitigate some of the impact, the book collection is still used, and we host a significant number of computer workstations. The latter is of particular importance as the campus has gone to online classes because not every student owns a laptop. We were also aware that for many faculty, the disruption in routine might present an opportunity for them to engage in research, making lack of access to the collection problematic.
Binghamton was not alone in grappling with this topic. Academic libraries across the nation were confronted with challenging decisions about sustaining access during the crisis. As a residential campus, we still have students here. Don’t they need a place to study? For us, it came down to the personal safety of our staff, of course. But the symbolic act of closing the library suggests something broader — that something atypical is going on, something unusual, and we should pay attention. Our staff is now working remotely, we have become well acquainted with Zoom and we look forward to when life after COVID-19 can resume.
As always, we would love to hear from you! Reach out and share any ideas that will help us increase engagement with our alumni community.
Curtis L. Kendrick
Dean of Libraries