As the University moved courses, exams and services online, the Library quickly responded. Expanding its laptop loan program to include wifi lending, moving 3D printers to assist FCAD’s efforts to prototype PPE, ensuring improved access to electronic resources, and participating in a global call to archive lived experiences during the pandemic, the Library swiftly adjusted to this new environment.
Library online services and resources
In response to COVID-19, the Library quickly mobilized and expanded its digital infrastructure to ensure students and faculty continued to have access to critical Library services and resources. This included highlighting and adding digital collections (ebooks, ejournals, data, streaming media), expanding virtual reference hours (a 63% jump in use), shifting workshops, instruction and programming online, and ensuring graduate students and faculty have advanced SRC support. The Library also joined the Keep Teaching Taskforce and continues to play an important role in shifting courses to virtual delivery advising on learning resources including open education resources, assisting with learning and teaching technology support, providing online information literacy instruction, and ensuring copyright compliance through the transition.
Laptops and mobile wifi hotspot loans
Quickly stepping up to adjust and expand the laptop loan program (doubling size, and extended loan periods), the Library added mobile wifi hotspot lending to ensure students had the technology and connectivity needed to complete their courses during the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, the Library worked closely with the President’s Office to liaise with Rogers to provide temporary unlimited data to students with a Rogers or Fido phone plan. This included receiving, verification and processing of student requests for Roger’s activation of this generous offer. The program has now closed for the winter term, and the Library is reviewing and revising the program to support the unique needs of students taking spring and summer courses.
Expanding digital collections
The purchase of a number of critical academic and SRC resources continued, adding to an already robust research collection. To date, the existing scholarly collections has expanded and has received more than 36 new packages in support of all disciplines, faculties, and schools, including: substantial expansion of essential ebook content, electronic academic journals, data sets and business reports, and streaming media content along with other specialized and unique collections and research tools. These new resources will have a positive impact on the Library’s ability to continue supporting high quality academic programs and SRC initiatives, especially in times of increased digital delivery.
COVID-19 Digital Archive
Through the leadership of the Archives and Special Collections unit, the Library is inviting community members to contribute to our own local COVID-19 Digital Archive. The goal of this project is to develop a portal to serve as a repository for those of us – students, faculty, staff and alumni of Toronto Metropolitan University – who may be documenting their current experiences during these troubling times. This grassroots primary source documentation will be of significant value to future researchers studying this period. The Ryerson COVID-19 Digital Archive seeks to preserve and make accessible content that was captured and created by community members about their lived experiences.
Community members are encouraged to contribute original digital content from a wide variety of possible formats including photographs, videos, diaries, journals and other written content related to COVID-19. Contributed content will eventually be made publicly available.
Library building closure
While sad to see the building closed, and a normally bustling academic library empty of students, faculty, librarians and staff, the Library was able to easily shift essential academic services to online delivery. Like all academic libraries, the Ryerson Library has been operating at the nexus of digital, experiential and in-person for years. Its digital expertise, focus on personalized services, and a pre-existing robust online infrastructure were already in place and could be easily leveraged and expanded. Though print resources, academic study and learning spaces (including experiential, SRC technology, and R&D spaces) are currently inaccessible, Librarians and staff continue to explore new and creative ways to advance their work in supporting SRC, teaching and learning at Ryerson.