While You Were Gone : We Were Here

By Ashley "Ash" Gonzales - Makerspace & Billing Coordinator

Our library staff members are chronicling their experiences living through a pandemic. If you keep a daily journal of your experience, consider donating it to Swem’s Special Collections when the crisis has passed.

After the W&M community received the news that classes were moving online, the Circulation department was hit with a huge wave of faculty requests for digitization of their course materials. Normal job duties were put on the back burner as Abbey Childs (Student Supervisor & Reserves Coordinator) led and coordinated the effort to respond to the far-reaching need for digital materials. While most library staff were working from home, Abbey, along with David Morales, Gina Woodward, and Ash Gonzales from the Circulation department, Steve Locklin (Reeder Media Center), and Debbie Cornell (Digital Services) continued to report to work at Swem to fill requests, since materials could not be digitized at home. The in-house digitization team received invaluable support behind the scenes from their colleagues in the Research department, as well as the Acquisitions department to triage request and find electronic access as many titles as possible.

Even though most of the library’s staff was at home, the building did not feel empty! The team (self-described as “The Wolfpack”) kept in good spirits by sharing jokes, snacks, and the occasional ridiculous song. The Wolfpack had plenty of room to spread out in the building; we used scanners in three different areas throughout the library and digitized DVDs in the Media Center to make sure we were filling requests as efficiently as possible while maintaining social distancing.

Image of a book being digitized

Image of a book being digitized

Images from left to right: Scans being done on a Bookeye 4 V2 overhead scanner, which converts scans into searchable pdf files. The photo to the far right shows what happens when you accidently move your hand across the scanner while it is in action.

In the first week alone, we completed a total of 248 requests for 86 different faculty members by purchasing eBooks and streaming licenses, locating materials available online (such as textbooks on VitalSource), digitizing films, and scanning print materials. Of all the requests we received, we were only unable to deliver on 5 requests, due to lack of availability. In those instances, we connected faculty back to their liaisons to discuss alternatives that might work for their course.

This week, The Wolfpack is working remotely, still filling requests, although we are unable to scan physical materials. We’ll keep working as requests come in to support the WM community throughout the rest of the semester, and hope to see you back at Swem soon!