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By: Jasmine Anderson, Biopac Student Lab Product Manager

People call the library the heart of the university campus, which speaks for the memories students and alumni associate with it. It’s the essential college stomping ground and uniquely serves as both a quiet refuge for studying and a meeting place for free-flowing ideas. At the library, peers mingle, study groups collaborate, and you can find solace from the stress of student life between the book stacks. Well, at least that was true before COVID-19…

Now facing the pandemic, libraries are performing their own open-heart surgery to maintain the flow of shared knowledge and support a thriving academic experience. They are redesigning ways to safely provide information and tools to students, facilitating inter-disciplinary course reserves and collaboration, and helping to maximize resource funding and logistics across campus.

“Quiet, please” doesn’t apply these days…talk to your librarian to discover new funding options!

To maintain their role in the college experience while also evolving with the recent changes to academia, libraries are adopting electronic print collections, virtual technology, and self-service stations. Adding these services—along with the infrastructure for self-checkout, curbside pickup, and the ability to loan technology such as laptops, anatomical models, and lab kits—helps support the transition to distance learning at universities.

Libraries can also help students in the sciences by providing funding for portable lab kits to fill the gap left by practical lab closures. In the fall, students can reserve BSL Home kits on loan from the library to participate in hands-on physiology experiments from anywhere. With BSL Home, students record and analyze data from their own bodies and receive the same authentic, open-ended, and complex learning framework that’s true of the traditional lab.

To champion this, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) put forth guidelines for instruction programs stating that libraries should demonstrate a “commitment to purchasing and providing support for classroom technologies.” Alongside the University of Wisconsin, several other institutions are following suit by providing resources and funding to support classroom technologies. A handful of these universities are listed below with their library action plan (Table 1).

Institution/University Library Action Plan
Auburn University Auburn’s subject librarians offer services to help faculty by purchasing books, journals, and electronic resources as well as supporting teaching and research in specific disciplines.
Case Western University Case Western’s Library equipment borrowing program takes suggestions for what they should be carrying online.
Georgia Southern University Georgia Southern provides a materials request form that faculty can complete online to request the purchase of teaching and research materials.
Michigan State University Michigan State allows instructors to request item purchases to place them on course reserve, similar to the University of Wisconsin MERIT Library.
University of California, Santa Barbara UCSB allows similar reserve requests by directing faculty to make requests to their subject librarians.
University of California, Los Angeles UCLA utilizes CCLE (Common Collaboration and Learning Environment), a campus-wide service that makes collaboration possible across schools, divisions, and departments and helps to advance remote teaching, learning and research.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas UNLV takes faculty purchase recommendations through a form on their website which can specifically be recommended to their healthcare library.

Table 1 – A list of Institution/University Libraries paired with their action plan to support classroom technologies.

Even though libraries will not operate in their normal manner this fall, they still remain at the heart of campus life, working to support the student body in stimulating and innovative ways. The students of 2020 won’t have the same memories in the library as classes before them, but with new technology available online and kits to take home, it’s encouraging to see the library continue to be a place of shared knowledge and scholarship. For more information on how your school can accommodate practical labs with BSL Home, talk to your librarian and reach us at

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