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Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Library in COVID-19 Times: Part 2: Transitioning Services, Offerings and Support

Therapy dog visit at the Icahn Levy Library

The Mount Sinai Libraries team offers education, teaching, and community engagements throughout the year. The library offers a variety of workshops, seminars, and courses, as well as on-site wellness activities on a weekly basis. Our workshops include instructional sessions on a wide range of topics, spanning from library resources training to competitive intelligence, publishing-related topics, and research metrics.

In addition to these weekly workshops, the library also has two separate seminar tracks. These seminars are longer and involve guest speakers and a planned program. “The Research Insider” seminar track focuses on research-related topics, while “Mindful Medicine” focuses on clinical topics. Finally, we developed “Lessons in Scientific Publishing” and “Introduction to Systematic Reviews,” which are two-credit courses embedded in the graduate and medical schools’ curriculums. We also have onsite wellness activities that include a weekly therapy dog visit and meditative activities such as coloring and art as well as special engagement events aimed to engage our patrons in a fun way and give them a break from studying. Our activities, whether educational or wellness-related, draw hundreds of patrons from across campuses, programs, and departments.

A workshop at the Icahn Levy Library  A seminar at the Icahn Levy Library

Workshops and seminars at the Icahn Levy Library

As soon as the library closed and staff moved to work remotely, we quickly reprogrammed all of our educational offerings and moved them online. To keep our patrons engaged and avoid “Zoom fatigue,” we decided to offer short, 30-minutes sessions covering the topics that were offered on-site in the past. However, we did not stop at that. Because we changed the length of the sessions, we decided to offer them more often during the week so that patrons have more opportunities to join. Therefore, we are now offering many more sessions and expanding the topics we cover. Patrons can register to attend sessions using our website or the Levy Library App. Thus far, 300 patrons participated in the 8 sessions that we offered in April. Our calendar is booked through the end of May, in case we cannot reopen the library by then.

In addition to the educational sessions, we also moved all library support services online. These include chat, phone, and, of course, reference services. Patrons can chat with us through our site or our app, and we established a callback service that allows us to call patrons who try to reach us by phone. While working remotely, all librarians monitor the LibAnswers queue throughout the day, thus enabling us to quickly resolve problems and provide support. We noticed an uptick in technical issues, especially regarding remote access. Patrons who usually access resources on campus are finding it difficult to navigate remote access, so based on that, we added an educational session on how to access the library remotely.

Levy Library question service web notice  Levy Library drop in web notice

Web notices after services moved remotely Remote Services: Stay Connected

Finally, we all recognize that many are struggling with stress, anxiety, and fear during this time. Therefore, it was important that we continue to provide our patrons with access to wellness resources and offerings even while remote. To that end, we created a wellness guide that aggregates information and resources from across the institution. As a special gift, we created a coloring book and journal of inspirational affirmations and made it available to download for free on our Levy Library Press.

Levy Library affirmations web notice

Levy Library affirmations web notice

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