Is the Library still closed?
by Christopher Richardson, Seminary Librarian
“Is the Library still closed?” I reply to that question from time to time and my short answer is that the Library has remained open, under COVID-19 protocols, since the Seminary’s shift to online learning in mid-March of this year, but that’s not the whole story – especially for alumni users, paid clergy and religious leaders, reciprocal borrowers from other schools, guest users in Charlotte, and public account holders enrolled before April 26, 2008 in Richmond. Here’s a more detailed answer.
Under COVID-19 protocols, access to the Library’s physical spaces has been limited since mid-March, and continues to be limited in some ways, due to the threat of COVID-19 infection. The Library’s online collections and services, on the other hand, have remained accessible (in keeping with licensing guidelines) and have been expanded since March. Most of the Library’s current COVID-19 service protocols have been in place since June 16, but were expanded at the beginning of the fall semester. They include:
- A more limited rotation of in-person staff hours, designed to reduce the amount of time that staff members spend in Library buildings. In-person staff hours extend from 9 to 4 Monday through Friday in Richmond. In-person staff hours in Charlotte typically range from 12 to 3 on Tuesdays, from 12 to 4 on Thursdays, and from 4 to 7 on Fridays.
- A twice-daily weekday pickup service in Richmond, designed to provide all Library account holders with opportunities to check out physical materials.
- Library Research Appointments in Richmond – for current students, faculty, and staff – designed to provide opportunities to browse physical collections for academic/institutional research purposes or to use the Instructional Resource Center’s Makerspace. These appointments are available during the Library’s operating hours in Richmond – 9 to 4, Monday through Friday – and patrons are limited to two hourly appointments per day to control the number and range of individuals who have access to the building, both simultaneously and cumulatively.
- Physical Interlibrary Loans – for current students, faculty and staff – available for pickup in Richmond – and electronic Interlibrary Loans available to students, faculty and staff at any location. Charlotte students, faculty, and staff may also request that items in the Richmond collection be shipped to Charlotte for their use, or that new resources be purchased, as noted below.
- Online Reference and instructional services, including:
- Reference Desk Service via Zoom, 10-4 M-F
- Reference Appointments Service via Zoom, 9-5 M-F
- Individual Library Instruction Available Upon Request (contact email@example.com)
- Virtual Library Instruction for Classes Available Upon Request (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Specialized Online Instruction for ThM and DMin Programs (contact email@example.com)
- Revised online Research Guides including, but not limited to:
- Digital Reference Sources at UPSem
- Finding and Using E-books
- An online guide to PC(USA) Ordination Exam Preparation Resources
- A new research guide for the Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation
- An updated Handbook of Library Access and Services for Distance Education Students (available under the Research Guides menu on the Library web site)
- Updated scanning equipment in Richmond and an on-request scanning service for print-only Library items (within copyright restrictions). For information on this service, email our Reference Librarian, Dr. Robin McCall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ongoing support from all Library staff via email, see Richmond Library Staff and Charlotte Library Staff links for contact information
- Book donations temporarily suspended in light of reduced staffing
- Library patrons of all types may request that titles be added to the collection by using our online Request a Title forms, here for Richmond and here for Charlotte.
Under these protocols, Alumni patrons may check out physical materials through the weekday pickup service in Richmond, Library service hours in Charlotte, or the Library’s Extension Service for Alumni (by mail). Alumni may also access electronic resources through the Library’s Alumni Research Portal, which includes but exceeds the number of resources available through the ATLAS for Alumni database subscription.
Other categories of Library users – including paid clergy and religious leaders, reciprocal borrowers from other schools, and public account holders enrolled before April 26, 2008 – may access physical items through the weekday pickup service in Richmond and electronic resources through a Member Research Portal that focuses on providing high-quality open-access materials from many sources through a single search interface. For additional information about access to physical Library materials in Charlotte, contact Charlotte Library Director, David Mayo, at email@example.com.
As posted on the Seminary’s Coronavirus Alerts page on October 5 by President Brian Blount:
Given the ongoing health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the physical campuses of Union Presbyterian Seminary (Richmond and Charlotte) will continue to be closed during the Spring and May 2021 terms in Richmond and the Spring and Spring 2 terms in Charlotte. Classes will continue to be delivered in online formats… Staff will continue to work under present COVID-19 protocols: working primarily from home, but coming to campus when necessary to accomplish essential duties or as directed by supervisors. In particular, library operations on both campuses will continue under present COVID-19 protocols. (https://www.upsem.edu/about/coronavirus-communications/, accessed 10/12/2020)
The rationale behind these protocols is that they fulfill the focal point of our Library’s purpose statement, to provide “print and electronic resources as well as library instruction to support the curricular needs and research activities of Union Presbyterian Seminary,” while limiting the number and range of individuals who have access to Library buildings for the sake of the safety of patrons and staff at a time when the path and threat of the COVID-19 pandemic are still uncertain and concerning.
Thank you for understanding and working within these protocols, as we do, to maintain access to library resources and services amid a rapidly changing public health situation. To keep up with the latest Library updates, please consider following the Library’s Facebook page, or the Seminary’s Facebook page for alumni. News and tips will also be posted here, to the “News and Events” section of the Library web site.