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Connecting with the Community

By Sarah Cahalan and Henry Handley

When Marian Library staff and faculty began working remotely in March, we quickly pulled together a blog post to explain how we would continue delivering essential services. All of these options — scheduling a virtual research appointment with Book a Librarian, viewing our digitized collections and journals on eCommons and emailing — are still available and making an impact on the University of Dayton community.

Adapting to Tough Decisions

Furloughs and layoffs at the University have affected departments across campus, including the Marian Library. We miss our valuable colleagues, including student employees who are typically the first people patrons interact with when they come to the Marian Library. Making the best of a tough situation, the Marian Library is focusing on connecting people to our resources while prioritizing the safety of library workers and patrons. 

We are also reflecting on our Marian Library predecessors, who modeled caring for one another and themselves in tough times. Only five years into its existence, the Marian Library was already operating on a tight budget while receiving requests for materials from all over the world. As the October 1948 Marian Library Newsletter states, 

“Our experience in the past has been that the more publicity we had, the more extraneous work we brought upon ourselves as a result of requests of all kinds, which seriously handicapped us in the real work of developing the [library].” 

Today, we continue to develop creative ways to connect the UD community to Marian Library collections. In addition, we are collaborating with our University Libraries and campus colleagues on safely reopening. 

Continuing Our Charge

In the face of hardship, we began documenting the ways that people have turned to Mary during the pandemic. In the time of stay-at-home-orders, people are praying and connecting with their neighbors by means of rosaries and novenas. The Marian Library has received multiple requests for information about Mary Gardens during May, the month of Mary. 

This strange era is not truly unprecedented, evidence of which is a revived interest in Marian icons and devotions used in the past to guard against plagues. The Marian Library's wide collection scope since its founding in 1943 has resulted in a large and diverse collection of materials that provide historical context for the current moment.

The Marian Library is continuing to produce and share resources — and getting a little creative as well. Our Fun and Games with Mary web page began as a remote-learning resource for Catholic schools but is now being expanded and shared with the UD community and beyond. The current situation has also allowed us the time to begin a review of the over 1,200 pages in the All About Mary encyclopedic website.

In addition to using our virtual services, local UD faculty and graduate students are able to place holds on books and other circulating materials and retrieve them through a contactless pickup at the main entrance of Roesch Library. Interlibrary loan staff continue to fulfill requests for scans of articles and book chapters from Marian Library materials, including for International Marian Research Institute graduate students who don’t have access to local pickup. We continue to support the teaching and research needs of UD scholars on a weekly basis, as religious studies instructor and doctoral student Josh Wopata attests:

“As a theologian working on a publication on a Marian apparition during the pandemic within the confines of my home, I have felt the difficulties of meeting deadlines but without the normal recourse to the theological and Marian resources I need. Over the past month, the Marian Library has provided incredibly powerful help in allowing my research and teaching to move forward through providing dozens of books and audio and visual resources to help me in completing my projects.”

As we work remotely and plan for the fall, we continue to fulfill the Marian Library’s mission since its 1943 founding to connect people with resources on Mary. We can’t meet in person right now, but please reach out through email or schedule a virtual appointment. Library personnel are creative problem solvers and specialize in finding ways to connect people with information — even in very unusual circumstances. 

We miss you but hope to see you soon! In the meantime, visit and continue to connect with us.

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