When the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) Library Team tumbled down the COVID-19 rabbit hole, it soon became clear that the whole situation, although surreal, wasn’t as chaotic as it could have been. We were fortunate because we had already been prepared with frequent team-building activities and online work. As a strong team who was used to working online, we just carried on.
The teaching librarians also just carried on. There were a few hiccups in the beginning as we found, for example, the students wouldn’t talk to each other in the breakout rooms. However, as we all got used to the apps, things smoothened out. In addition, we discovered that although we were not as badly off as many third world countries, there were some disadvantaged students, so we didn’t insist on seeing their faces as this freed up more Internet connection. We taught less and we taught more slowly, and we found that asking the students to annotate the librarian’s screen was a wonderful engagement tool. We also developed a successful asynchronous online programme.
Our research consultations were transformed too as they went from individual half-hour face-to-face slots to hourly online sessions with up to six students. We also stopped trying to insist on a single session per person, so many students asked for consultations again and again. We saw this not as a reflection on our abilities to communicate research skills to the students but rather as another cry for support in trying times, so we complied.
There is pain. We miss being able to get together in person for both discussions and laughter, and being able to offer our whole library space to the students. There is pride. We may be at the bottom of the rabbit hole, but our students are still getting what they need.
Debby Regina Wegener
Senior Librarian, Singapore Institute of Technology Library
The Pandemic IL (Pain and Pride) Series, is a curation of stories in 300 words by instruction librarians as part of the Council of Chief Librarians (CCL) Committee on Information Literacy (CIL).
Released on a weekly basis, this multi-part story series highlights the pivot to online during the pandemic and demonstrates the resilience, tenacity, commitment and passion by instruction librarians to teach, educate and advocate not only information, media and digital literacy, but multi-literacies using various digital learning strategies. Enjoy.
Rajen Munoo Chair, CCL, Committee on Information Literacy