When UCR librarians shuttered the doors to the Tomás Rivera Library and Orbach Science Library to help contain the spread of Covid-19, my tears flowed freely and stained not a few pages of my overdue New Yorker. Even though this was the right thing to do for now and the foreseeable future, I miss wandering the corridors of the university library. You see, I get lost in the comforting silence of the library. I also enjoy the distinctive sounds that intermittently puncture that silence. For instance, the “schlif, schlif, schliff’ of a carefully turned page or a patron courteously coughing into her medical mask. I get my best work accomplished at the library because not only do I love these sounds but I also enjoy the physical resources at my fingertips. And now we grad students are unable to go dwell in silence and retrieve the stuff we need to produce our gleaming dissertations.
So, what to do now? Well, while there is some bad news, thankfully, there is some good news as well!
[Image Description: A man looks up as a slow smile spreads across his face.]
Pictured: You, learning that there’s good news coming your way
The bad news is that InterLibrary Loan (ILL) and General Circulation will not be able to receive or process physical materials until at least June 19, 2020. However, the good news is that ILL and General Circulation are extending due dates on checked-out materials. Moreover, ILL, along with general circulation, are working diligently to make available an assortment of e-books. UCR Faculty and students can access a sizable portion of these materials owned by UC Libraries through the online resource HathiTrustE. Some cooperating publishers making their e-books available for free include Duke University Press, Ohio State University Press, and R2 Digital Library (See the library website for more information). Additionally, curbside pick-up will be available after June 15th for physical library resources. In fact, if you follow the previous link, you'll find a whole host of ways in which the library is still working actively to support your work--from a distance. However, the other bad news is that turnaround time will be understandably slow as our great librarians struggle to meet student and faculty demands.
[Image Description: David Rose, from Schitt’s Creek, gives his head a little shake as he says, ”Okay.”]
Pictured: You, accepting this mixed news with grace and dignity
Another valuable service that continued over the Spring Quarter was laptop loaning. There are students that simply do not have the resources for a laptop, so this program was especially helpful for students in this situation. Of course, the remote working and learnign set-up is made even more challanging because most students are ineligible for the (as of the time of writing this blog, still undelivered) Covid-19 Stimulus checks. This can be incredibly burdensome as our lives become increasingly dependent on digital communication and literacy. I’m glad the libraries have made available an online form (UCR Loan2learn) so students that need laptops and devices can still get them. Check the UCR library website for updates about this and other support programs offered through the summer sessions.
Of course, for other nerds like myself, nothing can replace the tactile experience of studying in the wonderful silence of the library itself. Whether you are living under quarantine with family, a partner, housemates, or even alone there are too many opportunities for noisy distractions from Netflix, youtube, the neighbor’s obnoxious lawnmower, or your housemate clipping his toenails. Can you do that somewhere else, Ralph? All I can do is commiserate with you and pine for the day when our university librarian can once again say in person, “this laptop was due back 15 minutes ago, you owe us 10 dollars.”
[Image Description: Kenan Thompson, from Saturday Night Live, sits at a table staring off into the distance as the camera zooms in on his face.]
Pictured: You, accepting the good and the bad of in-person library time