Savoring Spring, Planning for Fall
As vaccination numbers rise, and COVID-19 transmissions decline, the Libraries have at long last been able to reopen a limited number of study spaces to our students – and it is wonderful to have students taking advantage of the opportunity! We have implemented a number of safety measures to ensure that those who use our spaces will face minimal risk of infection, including a reservation system for seats in both the W.E.B. Du Bois Library and the Science & Engineering Library (SEL), as well as mandatory compliance with the campus “Green Checkmark” protocol, overseen by Environmental Health & Safety. We’re happy to note that our students are taking safety for themselves and our staff as seriously as they’re taking their study time, and the Libraries are once again filled with the sound of laptop keys clacking and pages turning. (Music to a librarian’s ears!)
The limited springtime reopening also includes resumed access to the newly renovated and expanded Digital Media Lab (DML), adjacent to our Learning Commons. Our DML staff each have significant expertise in new and emerging technologies that enhance student research and learning, such as 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality technology, and video and audio media production. Opportunities for learning these technologies and integrating them into the student learning experience is growing ever more critical in our increasingly online world, something the COVID-19 pandemic has made all too apparent.
We continue to prepare our physical spaces for the return of all students to campus for the Fall 2021 semester, with students being able to look forward to refreshed study spaces in both Du Bois and SEL. The planned return to campus, however, has not lessened our focus on the availability of e-resources and digital media, including access to electronic journals, books, and monographs. Even with curbside pickup of materials available during the pandemic, we’ve seen a decline in physical circulation, and a corresponding increase in access to electronic materials. This trend offers benefits even beyond the obvious convenience of not having to dash across campus in the rain or snow to return a book. For example, many open educational resources are available in digital form to support student research and learning, and faculty who create and use them are able to target them directly to the classes they teach. We’ll maintain our support for students remaining off-campus as remote learners until all students are able to return to campus. And our librarians will remain available to all students through chat and email to assist with research, identifying and obtaining resources.
Spring at the UMass Libraries also means the return of the peregrine falcons that nest on top of the Du Bois Library tower. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of members of our Libraries staff from Communications and Library Technology services, along with the UMass Amherst Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement, the UMass Amherst Physical Plant Division, the UMass Amherst Information Technology (IT), and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), we are able to bring you a livestream of the nest. Many of these institutional partners are also joining us for a one-day FalConference on May 21 (via Zoom), which is free and open to the public. Please register to join us if you can!
My best wishes to you and your loved ones,
Dean of Libraries
There is no better time than now to support the UMass Amherst Libraries.