Work in the Time of Corona: Katherine McKenzie, Coordinator of Interlibrary Loan and Research Librarian

Posted on
April 27, 2020
By Katherine McKenzie - Coordinator of ILL and Research Librarian


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.

Name: Katherine McKenzie

Title: Coordinator of Interlibrary Loan and Research Librarian

Department: Interlibrary Loan

meme of a character with it's arm raised exclaiming InterLibrary Loan Borrow All The Things

How has your work changed during the pandemic?

Working remotely means that everything we receive and everything we send out is an electronic version. Even though much of our work previously involved digital materials, we also typically had dozens of books coming and going every day. Now we are not able to send books or scan articles and chapters from our print collections. When we receive a request, we have to approach our search from another direction and maybe get a little more creative, like contacting an author or institute directly for a publication.

What are your challenges?

Most books are only available in a printed format. If an eBook does exist, we can often add it to our collection as a rush purchase. We have been able to locate other books online in places like the Internet Archive, and we have received articles and chapters from libraries in other regions/countries. Sending eBooks and electronic articles/chapters can be tricky, too, with variations in licensing and some technology challenges. Carol Frieden and Christie Arntz have done a fabulous job keeping us going.

What has surprised you?  

How much we’ve been able to accomplish! Thankfully, we already had robust procedures for sending electronic materials—even whole eBooks in some cases.  We also have great experience getting online journal articles quickly.

What do you miss most about being in the library? A screen shot of a Zoom window with three people's screens

The people—absolutely!  Friends we’re used to seeing every day: library colleagues, student assistants and other students and faculty. An email is just NOT the same, but ZOOM helps. :-)

Anything else you’d like to share:

It’s been wonderful that people all across the library (and campus) in every department have pulled together in a very short period of time to support the W&M community during the crisis in such a profound and caring way.