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Closure of libraries due to COVID-19

Many libraries worldwide have been closed due to the COVID-19 crisis; it has left many library users having to adapt their normal library routine. This has been an especially strange time for students who use the libraries to complete their schoolwork or prepare for their finals. In this week’s post we have reached out to some Danish College and University students to ask them their thoughts on how the closure of libraries has affected them.

The students we have reached out to are Nanna, Trine and Sarah. Nanna and Trine are studying Nursing and Sarah is studying Law. They all are attending school in Aarhus, Denmark.

How has the closure of libraries affected you as a student?

Nanna: The closing of libraries has meant that I have had to find new methods to find literature and that I have made my searches on the web more varied than usual in order to find relevant literature. In addition, I have used fellow students, supervisors and acquaintances who could possibly have the necessary literature.

Trine: I started writing my thesis just when the libraries were closed due to COVID-19, and that meant that I didn’t have access to books and other material. I have therefore been limited to the information and literature I have been able to find online. It is only rarely possible to find textbooks online which has meant that I have only had access to the ones I have from the curriculum.

Sarah: It has affected me because it is much more difficult to obtain books for my thesis. I’ve managed to borrow a little before the libraries closed, but it’s stressful not to have the opportunity to borrow more books along the way. There are also some books where I have used old editions, but where I need to check up on the new editions – the library would have been really helpful for that!

Has your local library tried to adjust to help their users during the closures? If yes, how?

Nanna: The university library has made it possible to have photocopied pages from books, but to a limited extent as they are still subject to copyright. So, for example, the library can send us copies of literature that help us obtain the information we need but still abided by copyright regulations.

Trine: Various types of classes with instructions were already planned for us who are writing our thesis. It has been changed so that some of the classes have been online. I have, as an example, received information on Skype in relation to the process of searching for literature. It was very useful. It has also been possible to get help and guidance via e-mail or Skype for the search I need to do for the thesis as well as finding literature online. The university library has also offered to scan literature that cannot be found online and send it via e-mail to us. It is a really good offer – unfortunately it is only a limited amount because of the copyrights.

Sarah: I think AU library (Aarhus University Library) is trying to help as much as they can. You can write to them with questions etc., and they would very much like to help find what can be found electronically. We’ve also received an e-mail about temporary digital access to some legal literature.

Are there any aspects of libraries you have realized that you appreciate more now when you don’t have access to it?

Nanna: Yes, it is the access to books and literature. I have become more aware of how much time I spend using library resources and may have taken it a bit for granted. Being able to ask the librarians questions and having access to areas to study other than my apartment, especially later in the process, is something I would really like to make use of again.

Trine: I have especially been missing the opportunity to be physically present in the library to look through the various books before borrowing them. So being able to “sniff” out the books you think you should use and see if it makes sense in relation to what you are looking for. I also often think that when I have been to the library at my school, the librarians have been really good at providing good advice on other material that might also be relevant. I have missed that too!

Sarah: I think, for me, it is that you have the opportunity to find useful and proper information or literature easily and can trust the accuracy of it.

Libraries find a way

There is no doubt that the sudden closures of many establishments due to COVID-19 has impacted many people. However, it has been very promising to see many libraries adapt so quickly to continue serving library users and communities with digital materials and resources. As always in times of uncertainty libraries have stepped up and responded to the best of their abilities and continue to make an impact.

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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