Libraries are an essential part of the fabric of university life. Although many of our services continued throughout the year, even during the Spring lockdown forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the closure of study space and the lack of access to our print collections was a blow to both staff and students. There was huge relief all round when we were able to get our “click and collect” service up delivering print books to readers in July. By August we were preparing Covid-secure study space and adapting to a “new” normal.
I would like to pay tribute to all library staff who coped with the challenges of this extraordinary year with good humour, patience and their customary professionalism.
Although 2019–20 divided into two very distinct periods, there were nevertheless many continuities. We have long delivered information resources digitally. We have answered readers’ queries through email and webchat; Minerva, our Virtual Learning Environment has become an important platform for the delivery of academic skills teaching. In Special Collections, we have explored how digital services can add value to physical collections not just by enabling remote access but also by facilitating new research methods.
Our response to the pandemic has accelerated these trends—widely known as the “digital shift”. The Library will continue to be a blend of physical and digital services, but the increasing emphasis will undoubtedly be on the latter.
I have heard many expressions of thanks for the efforts library staff have put in to ensure access to the best possible resources and support for both learning and research throughout the academic session. I am immensely proud of all that has been achieved this year and I would like to record my thanks also.
2019–20 was a very strange and challenging finale to my career in libraries. However, as with all previous years, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to have been part of the University of Leeds and in particular to work with such talented Library colleagues!
Dr Stella Butler,
University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, 2010–2020