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A campus disruption brought on by COVID-19 did not bring an end to intellectual curiosity at La Salle University.
Students, faculty, and staff conducted 71,780 unique searches in Connelly Library’s databases over the final eight weeks of the Spring 2020 semester. In particular, students sought information on a wide range of subjects, from religion and psychology to business and public health.
La Salle will return to an in-person experience for the Fall 2020 semester; however, the semester will include a combination of face-to-face and online instruction modalities to stay nimble amid the ongoing pandemic. For that reason, access to virtual resources will be critically important for La Salle’s community as the University transitions into a new academic year.
“When people think of libraries, they think of books,” said Eithne Bearden, electronic resources and outreach librarian at La Salle’s Connelly Library. “Naturally, our patrons did not have access to our print book collection. However, we have access to more than 1.2 million unique e-book titles, so students still have a vast number of options which they could read online or download.”
Subject matter of the most-used e-books in Connelly Library’s collection spanned topics like the Cuban missile crisis, science fiction, management and decision making, counseling and psychotherapy, and feminism.
Among the most-popular Summon searches in March and April: managerial decision, ethnocentrism, Peter the Great, globalization, and relationship dialectics theory. Across the same time period, the most-popular library guides searches included qualitative and quantitative research, Black Islam, and University Archives.
In both sources, the University community searched frequently for “COVID-19,” as well as more general health care terms like “disease,” “health,” and “nursing resources.”
“These searches show that, although COVID-19 was on students’ minds, they were continuing other studies, as well,” said Bearden.
To ease the recent move to remote instruction, the Connelly Library staff created two special library guides. One, called Free Academic Resources during the Pandemic, achieved nearly 12,000 uses. Another, called COVID-19, totaled nearly 1,000 uses—“a very high amount for one LibGuide (and) more than most get in a year,” said Bearden. The Free Academic Resources library guide provided links to e-books from Cambridge University Press, streaming videos from SAGE Publishers, and more—all provided from publishers and vendors during the crisis.
“The COVID-19 library guide brought together freely available information on the disease itself,” said Bearden. “It included some trials with scientific and medical publishers to support our science and nursing students who were forced to proceed in their courses without labs.”
Connelly Library’s virtual resources also offer access to nearly 171,000 e-journals and a 24/7 chat reference available to all patrons, with a professional librarian available for contact at any time of the day or night for around-the-clock support.
“Although our University had to quickly pivot to remote instruction,” Bearden said, “Connelly Library was able to provide our students with any educational material they needed.”
—Christopher A. Vito