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University Libraries

UD Libraries Stand Out with No-Contact Checkout, Interlibrary Loan

By Maureen Schlangen

The University of Dayton Libraries’ ability to safely supply the academic community with materials throughout the pandemic has drawn accolades from not only campus patrons, but also other academic libraries.

In the OhioLINK webinar “Print Services During COVID-19” on May 6, Amanda Black, coordinator of access services in the University Libraries, described UD’s no-touch model for material pickup and return: Following the state’s social distancing, masking and hygiene recommendations, staff from Roesch Library and the Marian Library enter the building every Thursday, retrieve all the items requested in the past week and organize them by patron on the first floor. From 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays, a masked staff member with gloved or sanitized hands is at the ready as each patron approaches the library individually and presses the call button outside the main entrance. After gathering the name and ID number of the patron, the staff member checks out the items, puts them in a bag and places them on a cart in the vestibule between the exterior and interior doors. After returning to the lobby, the staff member remotely unlocks the exterior door, and the patron picks up the bag.

“I received lots of questions while doing my presentation,” Black said. “At one point, the moderator had to tell everyone to hold their questions until the end so that I could finish my presentation. I also received follow-up questions after the webinar.”

As a charter member of OhioLINK’s intercampus services committee, Black will share her department’s successes, challenges and suggestions in future meetings when the group takes up discussion on curbside pickup/delivery of print materials; safe ways for employees to return to campus; managing social distancing; and ensuring safe service points.

Faculty, students grateful for access

The pickup service has been a popular option at UD, said senior circulation specialist Elizabeth Jacobs.

“Just because in-person classes have been halted, that doesn't mean that research has stopped,” she said. “The majority of those using our no-contact pick up service on Friday mornings are faculty and graduate students. Last Friday, we had one graduate assistant who picked up 19 books.”

Because many universities — Miami University, Ohio University, Bowling Green State University, University of Toledo, Kent State University and Ohio State University, to name a few — have suspended circulation of physical materials altogether, faculty from other institutions have been approaching UD directly for materials.

“The library has been averaging 30 scanned interlibrary loan articles per week,” Jacobs said of the oft-used service known to many by its abbreviation, ILL. “With so many libraries not circulating their collections right now, it is sometimes the only way to get the information that’s needed. I was directly contacted by a faculty member from Ohio University with the subject line ‘Please help!’ She had to quickly prepare a course for this summer and needed a chapter from a book and was so thankful that we were able to get that scanned and sent to her.”

Another request labeled “Desperate” arrived on May 15 from Vanderbilt University, Jacobs said. By late morning, the item was located, scanned and sent on its way.

ILL: the acronym does not deter

Access services staffer Chris Tangeman, who specializes in interlibrary loan, shared a by-the-numbers assessment of ILL requests in the eight weeks since the University Libraries closed its doors to patrons March 21: Of the 480 ILL borrowing requests, 264 have been filled through ILLiad, UD’s interlibrary loan request platform; 144 have been supplied outside of ILLiad; 17 have been postponed until they can be filled later; and 55 have been canceled.

“The low number of unsupplied requests is made even better considering the reasons for some of the cancellations — besides the fact that almost every library in the country is closed,” Tangeman said. Here are some of the reasons: 

  • 11 canceled per patron wishes.
  • 9 not available as e-books — but we can get them once OhioLINK reopens. 
  • 10 just not available right now, until the world’s libraries reopen.
  • 7 dissertations that are only available in print.
  • 1 1902 Russian journal.
  • 1 only available in Germany.
  • 1 only available at the National Library of Israel.
  • 4 Japanese books only available in Tokyo.
  • 3 only available in Belgium.
  • 1 collection of letters that only the Library of Congress owns.
  • 1 too large (a 130-page scan).

Patron feedback has been affirming

As they’ve processed requests, Black, Jacobs and Tangeman have received legions of praise. Here’s a sampling:

  • "One big thing in my life has been that I am more aware than ever of how much your library means to me."
  • "Wow! This is a really creative way to still provide support to the campus."
  • "Thank you for your work under these extraordinary circumstances. You have been a tremendous help already."
  • "Oh my — that is EXACTLY what I was looking for."
  • "Thank you for all of your help with locating my sources! This is greatly appreciated!"
  • "Thank you for helping me locate this journal volume online. I'm grateful for your assistance in trying to find access to materials for my research."
  • "I really appreciate all of your work and the willingness to keep it going as we face these challenging times."
  • "Thank you for your commitment to your work, even in our current circumstances. I’ve been avoiding ILL lately because I wasn’t sure of the status … or what is, is not, and might be possible. If there is something that I need, I will be in touch via ILLiad."
  • "We love our librarians!"
  • "Hey Chris! thanks for this. There is nothing else I need from ILL. You have been GREAT! THANK YOU #Flyer20Grad!"

“I really like that last one,” Tangeman said.

The goal from the start: Seamless service

Kathleen Webb, dean of the University Libraries, commended Black and her staff for the seamless services they’ve provided since March.

“This has been a very challenging time for academic libraries in trying to support faculty, students and the research community with everything they need to teach, learn and work remotely,” she said. “I am impressed more and more every day with the nimble ways our faculty and staff throughout the libraries are adapting to meet the changing needs on our campus.”

— Maureen Schlangen is e-scholarship and communications manager in the University Libraries.

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