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When Disruption is the New Normal: The Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Technical Services in US Academic Libraries

Yuji Tosaka, Cathy Weng


As college campuses closed for in-person classes and shifted to online instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, US academic libraries also scrambled to provide continued access to library services and resources to support remote learning, teaching, and research. One important question is how academic library technical services responded to the public health emergency and adapted to new challenges to continue to serve the academic community. This paper illustrates a survey study that investigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on US academic library technical services units in terms of disruptions and alterations of existing normal operations. The study revealed that technical services librarians and staff made determined efforts to continue performing as much of their pre-pandemic work as possible under the challenging circumstances. Unsurprisingly, library collection building practices and collection budgets were seriously affected by the pandemic. The study also showed the limitations of institutional preparedness and response to the public health emergency. Lastly, the study explored the personal experiences and perceptions of working from home during the pandemic and found no significant changes in work productivity, motivation, or concentration.

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