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University Libraries

Libraries' COVID-19 Strategy: Nimble, Creative, Efficient, Supportive

As academic and community needs changed during the spring semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, University Libraries faculty and staff adapted quickly to support remote teaching, learning, research and student life. The pivots paid off, according to the data gathered from research interactions, information inquiries, circulation statistics and online resource usage.

Research support

Between March 19 and May 15, library faculty and staff responded to over 578 questions via email, IM, text message, Zoom meeting and phone.

New teaching, lab resources

As faculty across the University converted to all-online instruction, Libraries faculty made the same transition, all the while creating new resources to support a rich learning environment in all academic departments:

  • In the first two months of the semester, librarians on the instruction team conducted 73 sessions about research methods and information literacy. In the final month of the term, they used technology to deliver synchronous and asynchronous instruction for over 30 more course sections, ranging from ENG 114 to MBA 799. 
  • While students were away on spring break, liaison librarians built new websites with discipline-specific remote teaching resources such as virtual science labs; digital archives; online galleries; and streaming music, film and performances. Shared directly with departments and via the LTC email newsletter to the Chairs Collaborative, these sites received more than 1,000 website visits. 
  • New resources from the spring term remain available; new ones are being created as needs arise. Departments are calling upon librarians to continue instruction in a variety of formats.

Expanded online access to resources

As publishers and vendors responded to the pandemic with temporary free access to premium online resources, the discovery services librarian has posted them on a new website and publicized their availability. Over 600 people visited this site by the end of the spring semester. A snapshot of items and usage:

  • Temporary-access or open-access packages (e-journals, ebooks, databases) added in March and April: 309
  • Temporary-access or open-access titles (individual journals or ebooks) added in March and April: 89,655
  • LibGuides assets viewed/clicked in March and April: 11,785  
  • UDiscover (UD’s multi-catalog search box), March and April — Total requests (full text, abstracts, linkouts): 102,565
  • EBSCOhost databases, March and April — Total requests (full text, abstracts, linkouts): 69,499

Reliable news and information

Librarians encouraged students, staff and faculty to stay informed using campus subscriptions to The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Dayton Daily News and the digital magazine platform Flipster. 

Online exhibit

The librarians and staff within the Marian Library moved the exhibit Mary in Miniature: Books of Hours in the Marian Library's Collection online.

Interlibrary loan and Friday pickups

Unlike at other academic libraries in Ohio, Roesch Library's access services team created a system for accepting local requests for materials and providing a window of time on Fridays for contactless pickup of items on hold. From late March to the end of the spring semester, the team fielded hundreds of requests:

  • 204 Roesch materials requested for patron pickup
  • 44 Marian Library items requested
  • 26 articles scanned
  • 480 interlibrary loan requests

Fun fact: Graduate students out-requested faculty at a ratio of 2.4 to 1 (116 graduate students; 48 faculty)


Faculty have been grateful for the service-minded faculty and staff in the University Libraries. The morning history professor Caroline Waldron picked up some books she'd requested for her research, she found another book she needed for course preparation, and the online catalog showed that it was available. Knowing it was a long shot but not wanting to wait a week until the next contactless pickup, she contacted the remote librarian on duty to make the request.

The librarian made no promises, given the time and staff limitations.

“But he pulled it off,” Waldron said. “I'm really grateful for him doing this for me. It meant I didn't have to return to campus the following Friday — a health issue. But also, I appreciated his willingness to listen to me as a colleague and support the needs from an empathic perspective that showed care for me and for students. That all meant a lot.”

Supporting students: Research assistance, Finals Friends, helping hands

After the move online, librarians continued assisting students with research in courses such as ASI 120, SSC 200, HST 337, and MBA 798. Josh Wopata, a doctoral student in religious studies, shared that because of the continuity of library services, he was able to stay on schedule with his writing: 

“As a theologian working on a publication … within the confines of my home, I have felt the difficulties of meeting deadlines,” Wopata wrote. “The Marian library has provided incredibly powerful help … providing dozens of books, audio and visual resources. … This has been a priceless resource for me to work toward publishing a chapter in a forthcoming book (with Marian Library associate professor Jillian Ewalt) about a Marian apparition in Ohio. I have no idea how I would continue my research on Mary and other theological matters without the ongoing lending services.” 

As part of the annual Finals Friends program, 34 alumni sent in well-wishes for finals week, and Libraries staff shared them on social media, providing a sense of positivity and connection to the Flyer family. 

And, for students’ convenience during the phased move-out process in May and June, library staff placed book return bins in five residential locations and volunteered in several buildings.

Documenting COVID-19

The librarian/archivist who oversees the U.S. Catholic Special Collection began archiving websites that document how the Catholic Church in the United States has responded to COVID-19; archived websites include archdiocesan and diocesan press releases, liturgical guidelines and more. The Marian Library began archiving websites and collecting personal stories and saving documentation of activities around the world that illustrate ways people have turned to the Blessed Mother during the pandemic. Marian Library staff members also created a webpage with activities for children and adults and published additional blogs listing remote resources, virtual Lenten devotion and at-home May crowning options.

A blog by the University archivist examined the effect of the 1918 pandemic on St. Mary’s College, and after seeing it, the nonprofit organization Retroreport planned to include information from UD in an upcoming story.

And as faculty, staff, students and alumni used sheet signs to share good wishes with health care workers as part of One Day, One Dayton, another archivist shared a history of UD’s popular messaging medium.

But wait … there’s more

Forthcoming programming includes outreach and engagement with new and returning students with a virtual escape room, an interactive virtual film screening and more.

— Contributors: Christina Beis, Amanda Black, Sarah Cahalan, Hector Escobar, Heidi Gauder, Henry Handley, Kayla Harris, Elizabeth Jacobs, Katy Kelly, Maureen Schlangen, Kristina Schulz, Stephanie Shreffler, Chris Tangeman, and Ann Zlotnik

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