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Online Library has vast resources available to students online 24/7

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October 16, 2020 - 03:53 PM

When COVID-19 forced the closure of the Mt. SAC campus, the more than 45 employees of the library staff kicked into gear. The library has had online options for a couple of decades prior, but in the past several years, the Library began focusing efforts on putting as many resources online as possible, as the college added more and more online classes.

Perhaps the first tool students would use to try out the Online Library is the OneSearch at the top of the Library web page. OneSearch uses a keywords to search most of the Library’s materials, print and online,

Hong GuoBut the full suite of online resources are better accessed through the databases directly, said Online Learning Librarian Hong Guo. “There are more tools to use, as well as the ability to select a subject-specific database, or publication type-specific, or both, in order to look for relevant sources.”

 Databases button“The databases are vast and a great research tool, said Equity Librarian, Eva Rios-Alvarado.the online library has more than 130 databases to search and material available include eBooks, streaming videos, articles from newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals..

According to Guo, once COVID hit, the Library looked to strengthen the existing tools and look for new ways to support students online. To ensure students have access to their textbooks, the library worked together and came up with a temporary solution - textbook digitization. Since the summer, for textbooks that are in the library course reserves, students can request chapters online and the library staff then scan and email them to students’ Mt. SAC accounts. This new temporary service has been popular with the students. The library staff have been working hard to meet the requests.

“Anything we can do  Kolap Samelfor students, we want to do,” said librarian Kolap Samel.

In addition to the student focus, Mt. SAC faculty and staff are encouraged to use the library and share all of the options with students to support student success.

Now, with all classes being forced online and many students never having taken an online course before, the critical importance of the online Library project was realized.

To get started, Library staff created a how-to video to help students find the online resources they need.

 If all this seems a little much for students, worry not, the online library has several online ways to get help.

The “How to” page helps guide students with videos and other content to learn and navigate the online library. Students can make a 30-minute one-on-one research appointment, attend library workshops live on zoom or self-paced ones on Canvas. For students who plan on getting advanced degrees and want to learn in-depth about academic research, the library offers two credit courses (LIBR 1, 3-units and LIBR 1A, 1-unit). Both are CSU and UC transferable.

Perhaps the most surprising feature of the Online Library is if a student is just cruising around the site, a live chat box will pop up on the right side of the screen to ask if they need some help.

“It’s just an online version of the help desk, except it is available 365 days,24/7,” said Samel.

While bringing the research and educational resources online is one thing, perhaps far more challenging is bringing the Library’s social culture online.

Eva Rios-AlvaradoRios-Alvarado characterizes the Library as “a community space for everyone. The library can be anything you want it to be.”

students work on a puzzleIf you were to walk through the library when the campus is open, you can find students gathered in a reservable room gaming, or building something together. A chess set over by the computers waits for two students to get their minds off their studies for a bit. A group of students just appear to be chatting with each other on their phones, careful not to disturb the many students who do go to the library primarily to study. Despite the recreational activities that are available, the Library is still a very quiet environment.

Students socialize in library“The Library is a place that is always cool when it’s hot outside,”said Samel. “It’s a social hub of campus for sure. A place to meet up with friends, meet new people. There are things all around to play with.”

Now that the physical Library is closed and all functions have moved online, the librarians formed a marketing team to get the word out to the students and to continue to foster engagement with students. The library has an active Instagram, Twitter, and a growing YouTube account. The team is running a library contest: “How does the Mt. SAC Library Help you in College”, where students and clubs make a 1-minute video for a chance to win a$25 gift card. The closing date for that contest is October 25.

Student on laptop in library “Our real purpose is to find out what students do know what they don’t know about the Library,” said Guo.