Going Online with BC Libraries

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When the plum trees in the O’Neill Library quad last blossomed, we had all suddenly moved online. The library–and many publishers–made immediate accommodations for increased online content and contact to adapt to the sudden change, but it took some time to make deeper systemic changes. By summer, many library staff were helping groups of instructors with online course design under the auspices of CDIL and the CTE. By the time fall courses got underway, library staff had worked with faculty members to transition over 200 courses in both the Morrissey School of Arts & Sciences and the Woods School, offering help with everything from quick tutorials in copyright and fair use to ordering articles and streaming video content. Now that we’ve made a quick digital transition, consider expanding library content to enrich your courses.

Close-up of white plum blossoms catching the sun on a dark branch with blue sky in the background

Here are some library staff reflections about that process:

A lot of my “value added” early in the online transition was in the discovery of short, targeting video segments for use in asynchronous teaching – to spare the faculty from having to recreate the wheel for everything. They often had very specific needs with regard to topic, video duration, audience level, etc.  My goal was to provide them with only the highest quality material whether freely available online or through our subscribed resources;  so not a casual YouTube search!  In some cases, rather than a very specific topic, I was given a syllabus and asked to find a few videos that were relevant to each lesson. To help meet some of this need for high quality video content in the sciences, I lobbied successfully for a subscription to JoVE Unlimited, which was well appreciated by the faculty.

Enid Karr, Senior Research Librarian/Bibliographer

Working with online classes and remote students has clarified for me exactly how much the whole curriculum in arts and sciences still depends on physical media, because electronic access is often not available to libraries at any price. Often, even if it is, the access is so limited as to not be useful for reserves purposes. Almost every class I worked with had a reading or a video or a textbook (or several) fitting that description.

Chris Strauber, Senior Research Librarian/Bibliographer

Working with the faculty groups was a great opportunity to see how faculty develop their courses and take on the challenge of converting in-person lectures and activities to the online environment. We rarely have an inside view of this process and it was an excellent learning experience to better understand the faculty perspective. Often the faculty were surprised by how much course content the library could provide and the potential it offered them, especially when it came to film and streaming media. I especially enjoyed working with graduate students who were teaching courses for the first time and seeing their courses develop.

Julia Hughes, Senior Research Librarian/Bibliographer

Faculty asked many questions. Here are some common ones:

Can I use this Netflix film?Not likely from the library; ask students if they have Netflix accounts.
Is my textbook available online for the library to purchase?Maybe! We’ll check.
Is it OK to link to this free content?Yes, but check links before they are assigned in case they disappear.
Can the library provide an introduction to library research for my students?Of course! Contact me to arrange it.
Can these films be licensed for streaming?Maybe! We’ll check.
How can I get this article?Request it from Reserves (either through our catalog or through ILL).
How do I link to these supplemental tests from the publisher of my textbook?Depending on the publisher, Canvas may have an LTI that can link to the content; talk to CDIL.
Can I use these images for posters?It depends on how the posters will be used and whether it falls under fair use.
Can you please translate this passage for me?If we can find someone in the library with the language skill & the time to do it, yes.

Here are some some ideas to consider for library content:

Add streaming video to your course to make it more engaging: The library has several streaming collections including Films on Demand and documentary collections. We can also license feature films or digitize short clips of content we already have on DVD.

Offer your students support from librarians: Before assigning a research project, have your students watch one of our short Core Skills Videos including an Introduction to the BC Libraries, Focusing your Research, or Finding Articles with Databases.  We offer chat 24/7, so if your students or you get stuck or have a question, we are there to help. We will also come to your course or create an asynchronous session on library resources and we are always available for one-on-one consultations. And you can embed a librarian in your Canvas course.

Work with us to find affordable and accessible online material: Think about how the library can help defray the costs of textbooks or other readings that you might usually use the bookstore to acquire. We may be able to add unlimited user ebooks to our collection so that all students can access them from “free”. And we will scan pdfs of articles or chapters to make them accessible to students who may use screen readers or other devices. And we can help determine how to use print materials online under Fair Use guidelines.

For more information on how the library supports faculty teaching online, please view our guide for Online Instructors.  Contact me at theresa.lyman@bc.edu or your Subject Librarian to get started.

Theresa Lyman

Online Learning Librarian