Tim Gerolami, a staff member at the Wilkens Library

By Alexandria Zine

For many flummoxed students, a pandemic merely inflates their uncertainty when attempting to tame the intractable technological hiccups that come along with academic research. Despite the void of the many advantages of on-campus learning and assistance, there are still innumerable ways to procure whatever help one needs. The Wilkens Library offers unequivocally direct advice for most of the day given that many still spend most of their time accomplishing these tasks remotely, regardless of the advancement to phase two of the COVID-19 protocols. The library’s staff are willing to accept promptitude appointments lasting two hours, as well as access to specific books according to student inquiries/requests. Although many students are utilizing the library’s libguides to accomplish their research assignments, the library’s sanitation routine for the sendoff and return of books, as well as plexiglass barriers within the shell of the library may provide just enough solace for students looking to safely reconvene with the 4Cs staff and the campus itself.

“I’ve worked in libraries for 25 years,” said Tom Gerolami, a staff member at the Wilkens Library, “and I can say that the pandemic was the biggest disruption to my job I’ve experienced.”

 The prospect of preparing for an on-campus curbside pickup for an incumbent tangible copy of literary material may be unpleasant. During their extant hours of operation– Mondays and Thursdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.– only two staff members are present within the nucleus of the library, according to the COVID-19 Protocols Guiding Principles Returning to Campus, Fall 2020 digital book. “We’re open for 2 hour appointments,” said Gerolami, “to study and use computers Mondays and Thursdays 8 am to 4 pm and Tuesdays and Wednesdays 4 pm to 8 pm. If there are openings at the end of your two-hour appointment, you can stay for an additional 2 hours. These appointments do not currently include browsing, however, as our stacks are closed. There are two reasons for this approach. First, COVID can live inside books for 3 days, so we are restricting access to the books.  Second, by limiting the floor space available, Facilities are able to keep the area as clean as possible and we reduce the amount of space we need to monitor to ensure social distancing rules are observed.”    

Regarding one’s pertinent preparation for final exams, the library is available between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, with the operable hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays extending to 8 p.m. for the library’s closure. This is effective between Monday, December 7th and Tuesday, December 22nd, according to the 4Cs homepage. On Wednesday, December 23rd and Thursday, December 24th, the span of their ability to offer numerous resources is set between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., which is the close of the semester. The aim of this arrangement is to provide every variant of help in time for the final exams.    

Since remote learning may have inhibited the familiarity and visualization of the library’s order for many students, a slight description based on the protocols may refresh the subject and rid of the rust. If one needs greater clarification on this, then one can either communicate with the library via phone (508-744-6441), email (refdesk@capecod.edu), the chat feature on the 4Cs homepage (www.capecod.edu), or by Zoom (https://zoom.us/my/ccclibrary).     

“Make Cape Cod Community College as your pickup location,” said Gerolami, “and we’ll contact you when the book is ready to pick up! Don’t have a card yet? Just email us the title and we will do the rest. You can even request items from other libraries or ask to send our materials to a CLAMS library near you-but expect a delay as we are currently holding books for 5 days when they arrive. This is because COVID-19 can survive in a library delivery bin for 96 hours, according to tests.”

Although the pandemic has made the process of the library lending out books less compendious than it was before, the Wilkens library has imposed a mostly logical and sound plan to complete this with a limited quantity of students. According to Gerolami, students contact the library to arrange the acquisition of the desired materials. Students are able to enter the library for this arrangement. “Materials can be returned in our two book drops-there’s one on the wall of the library,” said Gerolami, “between the main entrance and exit and another one located near the ground floor entrance that is accessible-no need to go up stairs.” This must be executed using personal protective equipment to abate any possible contraction of COVID-19 and the efficiency to adhere to the pillar-like precautions that are in place.

“On the instruction side of things, we drew on our pre-epidemic experiments with teaching information literacy sessions through Zoom and started making short videos to show students how to use our resources. Our own team communicates mostly through email and weekly Zoom meetings. First we added back curbside pickup of calculators and drop off of library materials, then interlibrary delivery and limited curbside pickup.”

For students who are desperate for the Wilkens Library to ease their technological qualms, a two-hour appointment is feasible, but limited to one day for students to provide equitability. According to the 4Cs COVID-19 Student Resource Guide that was published by Patrick Stone, the College Communications Director, the addition of plexiglass pieces to belie the danger of transmission between students and 4Cs faculty/staff is visible by the Reference desk, the Circulation desk, and the regions where the archives are accessible. All other sections of the library including the movable shelves brimming with particular books are divided from the currently operable facet of the library by ropes and signs. The Front Desk staff consists of only two individuals during the hours in which the library is partially operable, given these inevitable policies.

For the most part, “…students utilize our electronic resources more than our print resources, “said Gerolami, “even before COVID, and we have more sources online than in print.  For example, we have around 45,000 items in our print collections and over 130,000 books in eBook Central. The majority of student difficulties are not caused by COVID; the only real difference today is that you can’t talk to us in person about your difficulties, and we miss having that option!  We are, however, available by phone, chat, email or Zoom during our traditional hours and we love to hear from you and to help you with your research questions!”

If one can sense a rush of a timorous disposition at the mere thought of an in-person transaction, then one can refer to their 4Cs ID for complete access to the library’s collection virtually/remotely. The utilization of Noodletools, LibGuides, the A-Z databases, Citation /help, and the William Brewster Nickerson  Cape Cod History Archives (https://capecod.libguides.com/student2020/) can put students in the vanguard as it preserves time during the research process, only if a student possesses a firm internet connection and device(s). “We encourage anyone who needs a library card number to request one by emailing refdesk@capecod.edu from your college email. For immediate access to the library’s e-resources, use the default username and password below.”

The only instance where the library can extend their technology out to students is if a student’s at-home resources are disproportionately flimsy to the majority of the student body. If these tools or one’s Moodle account or College email are being finical, then the IT Help desk can officiate the online endeavors of students that are not running smoothly. One can contact the IT Help desk via email (helpdesk@capecod.edu), or phone (774-330-4004). According to the revised 4Cs online page for the IT Help desk, their remote hours are Mondays through Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. until 10 p.m., Fridays from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.   Whether one prefers utterly remote processes or on-campus transactions, the Wilkens Library has implemented plans to support these circumstances. The IT Help desk and the Wilkens Library’s staff can provide extensive help, despite the pandemic’s restrictions.