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Smooth operator

The SDHC CARES Act Grant supported the hires of student assistants, like civil engineering senior Rohit Mali, to aid in the fluid operations of the library after the building reopened.
The SDHC CARES Act Grant supported the hires of student assistants, like civil engineering senior Rohwit Mali, to aid in the fluid operations of the library after the building reopened.

Like many libraries in South Dakota and nationwide, Briggs Library closed to students, faculty and the community for a lengthy period due to COVID-19, beginning March 13 and reopening Aug. 5. The new norm of the fall 2020 semester meant that library faculty and staff needed to modify how to conduct physical operations and increase electronic resources to meet faculty and student needs. A $14,000 South Dakota Humanities Council CARES Act Grant helped the library accomplish this mission.

Applying for the grant was “an opportunity to enhance our services and adjust to our new circumstances,” Michael Gutierrez, head of public services, said. Gutierrez added that the library was still operating and meeting the research needs of patrons during the facility’s closure.

Many new tasks became a part of regular duties with the reopening of the building. The book collection had to be handled with extra care and incoming materials were placed in a quarantined state for a certain number of days. Print materials were scanned for students to access through a learning management system, after ensuring that the digitization complied with copyright. All of the computers, scanners and study stations that were used during the day were sanitized. The reference desk was relocated to promote social distancing, a move that also resulted in increased visibility of the reference librarians.

The CARES Act Grant funded student assistant positions to help with these extra tasks and to provide coverage of the circulation desk. The student workers also scanned materials for distance education students and for faculty who were conducting research or needed supplemental materials for their courses.

Another priority of the semester was for the library to acquire more electronic resources suited for the demands of online and hybrid online/in-person classes. The grant monies allowed the library to invest in e-resources, including 38 film titles purchased through Kanopy, a subscription database, for use by faculty and students. These included documentaries, instructional films and films pertaining to topics such as politics, history, mental health and education development.