We are reaching out to a number of our colleagues in the library and information field to see how they and their institutions are faring in the current environment. We will attempt to continue this series as long a the pandemic is having global effects.
Dokkyo University decided to extend the beginning of a new academic year from April 1st to May 11th. Other universities in big cities also extended the beginning of a new academic year, and some of them like Kyoto University are preparing all classes to online basis.
I felt better staying at home for at least 14 days (not mandatory) after coming back from Wellington, New Zealand where I had spent almost two months at Victoria University at Wellington, School of Information Management as a visiting scholar. I arrived in NZ after spending several months at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a visiting scholar. Even before losing anyone to the corona virus, New Zealand declared a national lock-down. I was able to get on the final flight from NZ to Japan.
Now at home I am making hand-made facemasks to pass the time. I am sewing several facemasks with a pocket in which I can put a piece of bleached, washed gauze cloth or nonwoven fabric. Basically these are not made to prevent the corona-virus, but for my brother’s pollen-allergy protection. Here in Japan no facemasks are sold at stores, no adequate cloth is available at handcraft shops, but I found some in Wellington and brought them back to Japan. I hope they work!
Japan does not have a lock-down at this point, but officials are “asking” the public not to go outside on weekends in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka even though the number of corona-virus patients is increasing day by day. All stores, restaurants, cafes, even pachinko-playing places are open. Kind of a scary situation, but still the Japanese government hesitates to do anything. I wonder if policy makers (make decisions) on economics and business mainly, not … the health of the public.*
– Yasuyo Inoue is a Library Science professor at Dokkyo University in Saitama, Japan and had spent from Sep. 2019 to Jan. 2020 at the Center for Global Studies as a visiting scholar.
*A State of Emergency has now been declared in seven of the country’s 47 prefectures.
Our last day of work on site at our teaching university in British Columbia, Canada, was Wednesday, March 18th. Even though we had been watching the progress of the COVID-19 wave – first to the west, across the Pacific, and later with shock at the pandemic’s impacts in an unprepared Europe – it still seemed hard to comprehend. As a public institution, we worked in concert with our Ministry of Higher Education and other institutions to move courses and services online for the last few weeks of the semester. Through all of this, I have been immensely impressed by the resilience of our library’s 22 employees who have responded to this challenge by learning to work remotely with colleagues, supervisors and others, through new communication tools. As the UL, I feel it’s important to ensure we are connecting with all employees regularly, to acknowledge and try to reduce the feelings of anxiety and isolation that are sure to be affecting everyone to different degrees. We seem to be holding more meetings than ever, and chatting and sharing photos to maintain our sense of community. We continue to progress with various projects that ensure employees are involved in a range of activities, such as policy and procedures development. I am planning to hold our strategic planning session via MS Teams, and so it will be an interesting challenge to try to engage all employees through that platform. My practice is to create as much structure and routine as possible, for myself and my employees, to ensure that we continue to be a functional and supportive team, throughout this challenging time.
Dr. Debbie Schachter is the University Librarian at Capilano University in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Debbie is a memberof IFLA’s Library Theory and Research Section, and is Chair of the OCLC Global Council and Chair of the OCLC America’s Regional Council. Debbie also teaches at the UBC Information School and the Langara College Library Technician Program.