Libraries are known for their collective ability to pivot. People who regularly use library services know that the richness of paper books, the essence of the stacks and the feeling of laying one’s hands on the perfect volume are all that remains the same and that nearly every other library action can be performed online. Remote services became even more important because of the pandemic. Binghamton Fund donors stepped up to help.
The institutional transition to virtual was, for so many libraries across the world, a 25-year process made possible by the inception of the web. The Binghamton University Libraries’ full transition to virtual was completed in 2018 when, together, all 64 SUNY campuses joined a single library system called ALMA. This cloud-based library services platform helps drive student engagement and success through a wider range of accessibility. Those of us who remember the old familiar card catalogs can appreciate how today’s full complement of services remains available nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week to faculty and scholars during the pandemic.
But however prepared our libraries were to provide remote services during the pandemic, there was a temporary panic surrounding book sharing. Would the libraries have to suspend loans and browsing? There was an idea briefly swirling around the professional library community that books and anything else that people touched could be unsafe to share during the pandemic, but science quickly prevailed. The American Library Association’s Preservation Administrators Discussion Group announced that books could be considered safe from COVID-19 24 hours after last being touched and scientists globally began to report that time and UV rays were appropriate tools. With these guidelines in mind, quick-thinking Reader Services staff adopted new material handling procedures for general collections and special book-safe sanitizing machines were purchased for Course Reserves.
- Two branch locations received ILS book-sanitizers. This emergency purchase, made possible by the Binghamton Fund for the University Libraries, enabled uninterrupted Course Reserves access to students who share the use of library-owned textbooks.Course Reserves texts can be sanitized within 30 seconds after each return.
- All four branch locations quarantine their general circulating collections upon return for 72 hours before books are safe to reshelve and make available to the next borrower.
The Libraries extend a hearty “thank you” to all who generously gave to the Binghamton Fund for the Libraries and helped make the ILS book sanitizer purchase possible!