The Central Library of the Faculty of Science in the times of Corona

24 Apr 2020 Taťána Škarková, Dagmar Chytková, Klára Urbánková

Since March 13, both our personal and working life have changed. Preceding Monday and Tuesday, surprisingly over 430 patrons a day visited our library and all of a sudden – nothing but an empty space. A thorough cleaning of study rooms and all other premises followed. We started sanitizing desks, computers, shelves or book spines. And since we were recommended home office in order to prevent meeting in a big number at the office, we mark our presence in a shared presence sheet, so that we can easily check who is going to be present or absent from work. Using different marking colours, it is more than helpful.

Protože máme doporučení využívat home office a na pracovišti se potkávat v co nejmenším počtu, naši přítomnost v knihovně řešíme přes sdílený dokument, kde se domlouváme, kdo a kdy bude v knihovně přítomen. Funguje nám to skvěle, pro přehlednost používáme barevné značení. Zřídili jsme si účty na MS Teams, abychom spolu mohli zůstat ve spojení. Využíváme chatovací místnost a konferenční hovory na aktuální domluvy.

At present, one of the biggets missions in the library is scanning desired documents and adding them to the so-called E-loans for self-study. We offer this service to teachers and academics primarily, but it is popular with students, too. Colleagues Štěpán and Jana have immersed themselves in the digitalisation a great deal and can concentrate on it even more now that the library is closed to public.

The library has been closed and thus, communication takes place electronically. Our colleague Vojta is in charge of all that concerns electronics and takes trouble to keep everything running well. As an IT specialist, he’s been currently occupied with correcting the scanned documents, converting them to PDF format and making them available through the E-loans. And since technological growth never sleeps, another part of Vojta’s job is to keep up with the development. At the moment, he is studying how to work with graphics editors such as Affinity Designer.

Although students are currently not able to return their loans (which are prolonged until June), a book return box is still at the employees’ disposal. Our colleague Jana checks it every day. Viruses or bacteria can live on the surface of books for up to several days. We do not leave anything to chance and preserve the returned books in a separate room, where we sort them by the return date, as advised by the National Library of the Czech Republic. After five days, we sanitize them, return electronically and then shelf them.

Especially now that the faculty is closed, Electronic Information Resources are of the utmost importance to both students and teachers. In the library, it is Mája who is in charge of them and devote most of her time to them at work and when on home office, too. You can find out more about what is available on our Facebook and website. At the moment, Mája is also busy with checking the published works of the academics of the Faculty of Science. Meanwhile, Mája spends her time organising the journal collection or repairing the books. Mája is also responsible for communication with students because despite being closed, the library still offers services, to a limited extent, though.

Colleague Dáša specializes in graphics, so currently she has ben creating various posters and sign boards that inform about the latest news, available resources or services one can use from home. Dáša manages the social network and keeps posting on our Facebook. We follow the latest information about available resources, so we know which publishers offer their resources for free. We let our users know about all the available resources via Facebook and the website. As a graphics specialist, Dáša records the current situation in the library with a camera, too. She also gives on-line lessons on graphic design to those who are interested, so the colleagues have a special opportunity to study something new.

Even the very traditional librarian procedures are taking place. It is the domain of colleague Naďa who is willing to educate her less experienced co-workers, too. It is no rocket science, but practice makes perfect.

Like elsewhere, we have taken to distance education, as well. The library is responsible for “IT” and “Multimedia” courses. The “IT” course is carried out via e-learning each term, while the way the “Multimedia” course is taught has utterly changed. Instead of meeting in a classroom and working with PC applications and tools, students have been working from home, following our tutorials. We give them feedback, in return.

We have carried on with our English course all the way, too. On-line lessons are held every Friday. We truly enjoy it, as both precise terminology and rather more amusing topics and games are covered. We believe to have improved our skills a great deal.

In order to keep in touch altogether, we have signed up to MS Teams application. For briefing, we use chat rooms and conference calls.

Cataloguing is a huge agenda of the library. Every single book has to be catalogued, for which there are descriptive and subject cataloguing. Thanks to these, a book can be easily looked up in the library catalogue not only according to the title or the author, but also according to other features. Romana, Štěpán, Naďa and Klára specialize in the descriptive cataloguing, while the subject cataloguing is carried out by the subject librarians – Radka being responsible for Geography and Anthropology, Jana for Maths and Physics and Dáša for Geology. Radka and Jana has been thoroughly cleaning the subject registries from home, too. All the subject librarians then also communicate with all the faculty departments and deal with purchasing new books.

We still keep in touch with our students who contact us with various queries. It is often Klára who replies them. Klára has been dealing with retrospective cataloguing, these days. She also spends her time preparing a programme for a library event called “A Night with Andersen”. She is in charge of maintaining some necessary stuff that has to be in stock, too. Currently, it is mostly cleaning supplies. This special situation also brought some new activities, such as book sanitizing or pantry clean-up.

There is now enough time for thorough cleaning, too. We bear in mind how important our relax zones are for the users. So we decided to wash all cushion covers and have them ready to welcome our students.

Before publishing this article, we have updated our services to a limited extent. Since March 21, all students and employees of the Masaryk University have a special opportunity to borrow books from the library collections, between 9-12 AM, under specific conditions. You can find out more on our website or Facebook.

Finally, Spring has come! Even the most stubborn melancholics can only hardly resist the beautiful sunny weather and blooming nature. Spring fever is definitely not our case. Nor it is for our cleaning ladies who kindly put up some lovely Easter decoration. Luckily, still complete in the photo, despite the fact it is mostly made of chocolate.

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