By Cristian Zambrano
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, East Los Angeles College library has found helpful and innovative ways to help its students. The Helen Miller Bailey Library provides a multitude of online resources to help replace the physical access to educational materials students once had.
Librarians have given students the ability to use databases that will provide loads of literature and other resources from its website https://www.elac.edu/Explore/Library.
A good portion of the library’s resources, databases and articles had already been published beforehand, and because of that, it made the transition to online smoother.
Now students can go to the library’s website and through the search engine “OneSearch” they can receive a digital copy of the majority of any book or article.
This accessibility is great, but some don’t know how to navigate the resources digitally well enough to take advantage of the opportunities. The librarians kept this in mind and set up a way for students to contact them anytime through a 24/7 chat from the website, phone calls or even schedule a 30-minute Zoom meeting if needed.
“We put together an announcement letting the students know that even though we are working from home we are still available to help them with whatever they may need,” ELAC librarian Nathasha Alvarez said.
The 24/7 chat has been the most helpful to students and librarians in answering any research-based questions.
Since there is no safe way to return the books back to the library, workers extended due dates to Feb. 5 and canceled any late fees. This was one of the very first steps they took to help the students.
“We wanted to protect everyone’s safety when the epidemic first started and didn’t even bother devising a plan to ask for the books back. The students had enough worries.” Alvarez said.
Librarians worked around the clock to move everything online to be easily accessible at home.
A variety of online workshops and tutorials were also made available by ELAC librarian Rita Suarez. The Youtube channel “ELAC Libraries” contains tutorials on how to navigate the library’s databases for the right information and even how to formulate that information into an MLA or APA citation.
“By taking the time to review these tutorials students seem more familiarized with the online resources available in the library,” Alvarez said.
Interactive workshops such as how to properly research and cite information are held weekly via Zoom with a library staff member.
With finals coming up, Alvarez and her colleagues are thinking of many ways in which they can better help students.
Before COVID-19, the library would hold relaxing events such as book coloring or having some refreshments as a break from the stressful test-taking.
With everyone staying indoors, they are now thinking of more virtual ways they can help the students relieve some studying related stress.
“As a facility, we believe it is our job to help the students in whatever way we can. If holding something like a virtual book reading or coloring session can help we are all for it,” Alvarez said.
Students like to visit libraries to browse the bookshelves, satisfy their curiosity or study for their classes. It was a quiet place to think for many and an enjoyable place to hang out for others.
Because of the pandemic, students can’t fully enjoy what the library has to offer. The library workers are radically working to bring that knowledge to students through online means. This move allows students to enjoy it at home.
“Everyone understood how reliant students were on these resources. We brainstormed ways to give them easier access to them, it was a team effort and we will continue to develop our resources for our student’s benefit,” Alvarez said.