The COVID-19 pandemic and challenges for academic libraries: response of the IHS library

Ever since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, government authorities adopted public safety measures to lower the spread of the coronavirus in their respective countries. Universities responded quickly and hybrid provision became the new normal in Higher Education. In light of the academic libraries that were closing their doors as a result, a renewed mission for digital literacy came into existence.

For universities and their academic libraries, the pandemic brought about several challenges. In March 2020, Erasmus University Rotterdam closed its university campus including the Mandeville Building in which the IHS library is located. IHS library staff did what they could to remotely meet any of the information requests of all IHS course participants, academic staff and other parties. Research and information from multidisciplinary sources are important - even during a pandemic - since researchers access libraries for information at all times.

The Handbook of Research on Library Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 situation has without doubt been a driver for change, namely providing library services virtually. Provided that the pandemic continues to exist, and access to the physical collection remains impaired, the need to go digital in the sense of e-book acquisition will continue to be a priority.

It is against this background, the ‘Handbook of Research on Library Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic’ edited and compiled by Barbara Holland, has brought together the various experiences of libraries across the world exploring how they in their own ways rose to the challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic. The book contains 23 chapters from different contributors including a wide variety of disciplines and describing how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted on their work. 

The IHS Library and Its Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Chapter 16 of the book outlines how the IHS library developed and provided content, particularly focusing on Africa, Asia and Latin America, by collating information on the social, economic, and environmental impact of COVID-19 in urban areas of emerging economies. There is a wealth of information to be found in the IHS COVID-19 Resource Hub, especially in the Journal Articles section that has links to many articles published since the onset of the current pandemic.

This chapter further draws attention to the history of IHS and the clients of the library and gives a clear picture of the international nature of the organization’s training and education scope. It also highlights the ways in which the IHS library has become an integral part of educational experience at the institute, creating a trusted environment for studying the complex issues arising from urban development in emerging economies.