Your Virtual Library

In every team and department at Northwest Vista College, there are always great stories to tell that show faculty and staff going above and beyond.

While it’s hard to capture every story, we hope to periodically share in this space some of the major accomplishments or projects that are taking place. Members of the executive team will write about important topics that they feel NVC employees should be made aware of.

Let us know about the positive things your area is doing to help students or improve processes by contacting myself or NVC Marketing & Strategic Communication.

– Dr. Ric Baser, NVC President

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Linda Reeves
NVC Librarian

Although the doors to the NVC Library are closed, library employees are busy supporting the needs of our community as they transition to remote teaching and learning.  Some things have stayed the same; other things are brand new or have changed in modality.  Each of the three units, Circulation, Computer, and Reference, are working diligently to provide our students and faculty with online resources and support.  Customer service is our main focus in the remote environment, just as it was in the campus setting.

The Circulation Desk staff work with patron data to make sure people have access to the library collection.  A big project is pushing back the due dates on materials.  Since the campus is closed, we do not want people to try to enter to return materials.  Circulation staff assure patrons that the items they have checked out will not accrue late fees.  The staff are also lifting library holds to remove barriers to registration.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, people kept up with library news by walking through the library itself, through library participation in campus events, and through displays and flyers.  The library’s social media team, consisting of librarians as well as Circulation Desk staff, are using a variety of social media to disseminate information about online sources and services that will help students succeed in their studies.  Posts on Instagram are the virtual representation of library displays.  Featured currently on Instagram are celebrations of May as Military Month, Bicycle Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month.  Other posts inform patrons about how to access films on Kanopy, one of our streaming video databases, and how to access popular magazines (including Sports Illustrated and adult coloring books!) through Flipster.  Check out the library’s posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Our Computer Desk staff provide technical support to patrons who experience technical or access issues.  They also provide much appreciated assistance for people using technologies that they may not have much experience with, such as Zoom and Virtual Personal Network.  Other important functions they perform include checking the links to the library’s 235 databases to ensure seamless access and auditing database usage information.  With access no longer available to the library’s physical collection, patrons are relying more than ever on our databases and the digital resources they provide, including books, journals, art images, films, and music.

The NVC librarians have not only moved their usual responsibilities online but taken on some new ones.  Before COVID-19 we provided face-to-face assistance to patrons at the Reference Desk and through Book a Librarian research appointments, as well as through chat and email.  Face-to-face help sessions may not be available currently, but we conduct these sessions through chat and Zoom.  Just like before, we invite faculty to book an information literacy session for their classes, but now these classes are conducted through Zoom.

Since the college has gone remote we have also seen an increased interest in the library’s online research guides.  We already had made research guides for disciplines, courses, and particular assignments.  When the campus went remote, we quickly created some guides to provide crucial information about COVID-19 and library resources  as well as  instructional guides to help students with particular aspects of research, such as finding articles in peer-reviewed journals. Since the move to online learning, research guides have acquired a more important role in students’ information literacy education.

Part of a librarian’s responsibilities is to select and purchase appropriate materials for the library collection.  This responsibility took on greater importance and urgency with the rapid move to remote learning.  Both students and faculty began contacting us to ask if a video or book used in class was available in a digital format. Everybody on the library staff pitched in for this task. When we got such questions, we immediately looked to see how we could facilitate access to the item.  This involved checking our own collections, checking with each of the vendors to see if a digital format is available, and checking online to see if the item is legally available for free.  Indeed, some publishers of media and text have stepped up and made materials available for free, at least for the time being.

Finding the same item or something similar involves a lot of research and exploring various vendors.  The next steps include setting up a new vendor if necessary, adding information about the item into our WMS and creating a record in our system for One Search.  Finally, we check to make sure the link to that item is working.  Once all of these steps are completed, we notify the instructor, and all they see is a link to the materials that they need.

All of us in the library are participating in frequent professional development through webinars and live meetings.  These sessions allow us to not just keep up in our field, but take the practice of our profession into new realms.  All of us are learning new technologies and strategies in order to provide as much support as possible to our students and faculty in the new online learning environment.  We are still here to help!

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