learning as a librarian: what is the new normal?

learning as a librarian: what is the new normal?

And I thought March and April were difficult.

Here in Texas, the COVID numbers are soaring after two and a half months of a reopening that included two weeks of protesting in June. Dallas doesn’t seem to be as bad as Houston (yet), but it’s difficult to measure the level of risk when the county doesn’t release its information on ICUs. And schools at every level, without definitive direction from the state, still have not committed to how education will look, leaving parents, students and teachers/faculty to worry endlessly about whether everyone will be safe.

I’m thankful that I know my classes through UNT will be online, as the plans for on-campus classes look a little confusing. But as of today, no plan has been announced for what fall classes will look like where I work at SMU, and they’re supposed to start in five weeks. The lack of announcements (and the trickle of what has been announced) has led faculty and students to plead, through the student newspaper, for university leadership to consider the lives of everyone on campus and to go online for instruction.

(And this doesn’t take into account what we’re dealing with as parents, considering the options between more schooling at home, or putting our children at risk by having them return to a building where they’d be sharing a small space with 20 other children. I cannot even imagine what the plan for the elementary school library would be.)

I am grateful that SMU Libraries has done a great deal of planning to make our reopening last week as safe as possible. But even with the library limited to current SMU summer students, faculty and staff, it has been a challenge to guarantee student compliance with mask requirements. What will happen if/when we have our full number of undergraduate students in the fall?

Our biggest challenge now is that there are no definite answers. Research often leads to new directives and new questions. Our society is used to instant gratification and information, including — especially — at the library. And we’re at a bit of a loss without that.

 
Champagne, S. (2020, July 2). Texas won’t specify where hospital beds are available as coronavirus cases hit record highs. Texas Tribune. https://www.texastribune.org/2020/07/02/texas-hospital-capacity-coronavirus/

Dallas County Health and Human Services. (2020, May 11). Today’s COVID-19 risk level [image]. DCHHS website. Retrieved on July 14, 2020, from https://www.dallascounty.org/departments/dchhs/2019-novel-coronavirus.php

Eggers, D. (2020, May 3). Flattening the truth on coronavirus: All your questions about the pandemic, answered. Sort of. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/03/opinion/dave-eggers-coronavirus-questions.html

Hixenbaugh, M. & Ornstein, C. (2020, July 10). ‘All the hospitals are full’: In Houston, overwhelmed ICUs leave COVID-19 patients waiting in ER. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/all-hospitals-are-full-houston-overwhelmed-icus-leave-covid-19-n1233430

Keomoungkhoun, N. & Marfin, C. (2020, July 13). We asked 3 Texas doctors: Should you send your kids back to school this fall? Dallas Morning News. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2020/07/13/we-asked-3-texas-doctors-should-you-send-your-kids-back-to-school-this-fall/

Nadworny, E. (2020, June 29). The wild card for an in-person fall: College student behavior. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/29/873798541/the-wild-card-for-an-in-person-fall-college-student-behavior

Rentería, P. (2020, July 8). OPINION: Now is not the time to be selfish — The problems with a return to campus. SMU Daily Campus. https://www.smudailycampus.com/opinion/opinion-now-is-not-the-time-to-be-selfish-the-problems-with-a-return-to-campus

Smatresk, N. (2020, July 13). Fall class options to support our students’ academic needs – An Official Notice from the President. University of North Texas. https://www.unt.edu/notices/fall-class-options-support-our-students-academic-needs-official-notice-president

SMU Libraries. (2020, July 13). Current status and services. Southern Methodist University. https://www.smu.edu/libraries/covid19

Thiele, A. (2020, June 21). Faculty Senate President speaks out: SMU ‘does not believe that the threat of COVID-19 is lethal.’ SMU Daily Campus. https://www.smudailycampus.com/opinion/faculty-senate-president-speaks-out-smu-does-not-believe-that-the-threat-of-covid-19-is-lethal

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