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COVID-19: How to reinvent library services respecting current public health measures?

Une bibliothèque 100% virtuelle pendant le confinement… Et ensuite
Published on
09 July 2020

A serious game and an example of GEM's new organization.  The school's Playground teams have just designed a new serious game that is particularly timely.  The goal is to train librarians to find new ways of encouraging users to come (back) to the premises. At the same time, reorganization was essential for the GEM library teams.

Training by GEM for staff of the Médiathèque Départementale de l’Isère 

There are two steps to the game. First, the players represent 4 libraries that compete with one another to organize a Summer Solstice Party. It is up to them to convince the randomly selected characters among 40 villagers representing the French population: men, women, children of all ages, able-bodied or disabled people, who are either accustomed to attending libraries or not at all. To win the first round, players have to convince as many characters as possible based on to their personal story, bad habits, what annoys them and the potential incentives to go to the library. Further to this, the players have to cooperate to imagine the program of the party. Librarians, therefore, learn to identify and mobilize the available resources at their media library to create and set up an activity or project based on a given audience and context.

"The game was imagined before the pandemic. It is the result of 2 years of work in collaboration with the Médiathèque Départementale de l'Isère (MDI). Before the lockdown, we had just trained the members of the MDI. They will in turn train librarians of a larger network in Isère," explains Isabelle Patroix. "We can imagine having this game played to find solutions and events adapted to the new public health measures in libraries," she concludes.


A 100% virtual library during lockdown... What's next?

"The COVID-19 health crisis has suddenly forced library directors and managers to set up telework for their teams. To this end, GEM's team of ten librarians, for which I am responsible, was impacted. In addition to the challenge of maintaining, at a distance, an open and social environment for fruitful teamwork and boosting employee motivation, we had to deal with the bankruptcy of one of our e-book suppliers, as well as the question of the return of books borrowed by our students at the end of their studies, without knowing when we could reopen. The question was: How do you manage a library and a team in an uncertain context which can eventually lead to a loss of meaning," explains Corinne Flacher-David, Director of the Dieter Schmidt Library at GEM.

However, the library remained open, with 100% online services: new ways of accessing resources and reinvented services:

  • Online support provided by IT professionals: full-time online reception desk (response within 24 hours); individual digital appointment with a librarian; virtual classroom training; chat room service for an immediate response; FAQ; video tutorials (Website/YouTube) ...
  • A global and massive communication with the library's different visitors, on the web via the corporate social network, the traditional social networks; the website...
  • Adapting the offer and access to online resources: increasing e-book collections; extension of database bundles (Scholarvox, Cairn, Jstor); increasing the number of simultaneous connections (ENI); adjustment of loan regulations and cancellation of overdue items penalties.

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