UNC Libraries Create Delivery Service For Off-Campus Students
University Libraries have instituted a new courier delivery service, making books and physical documents accessible during this semester remotely to any active UNC student or faculty member living in the continental United States. .
Joe Williams, director of library utilities at UNC, said that since the University’s initial switch to virtual learning last spring, libraries have received many requests to institute a fine-tuned material delivery system. that would accommodate people off campus.
“In the past, we have provided this service to students who were remote, which in the past only included a small percentage of our students,” said Williams. “But this semester pretty much everyone is being educated at a distance.”
The courier delivery feature is now available on document request forms which are generally in circulation. After receiving an order, Williams said it takes two to three days for university libraries to retrieve and process the item.
Then, via the US Postal Service, the item is sent. The overall delivery time depends on the location of a student or faculty member.
“It doesn’t work any differently than any other borrowing system,” Williams said. “Items are deposited into your account until you return them. So far, we haven’t had any issues with people not firing them.
Williams said return labels with prepaid postage are included in every box to ensure university libraries remain a free service to students and faculty.
“Our main desire in all of this is simply to serve the students and the faculty,” said Williams. “We know how difficult it is, and a lot of people don’t want to be or can’t be outside, so we’re just trying to serve people the best we can.”
In addition to those with UNC One cards, the courier delivery system is also available to community members with UNC borrower cards, provided they live within an 80 kilometer radius of campus.
Media and equipment, as well as anything obtained through interlibrary loans, are not eligible for delivery.
Acting interlibrary loan officer Renée Bosman said that while UNC academic libraries continue to borrow material from other universities, the process has become more complicated due to COVID-19.
“We are at the mercy of the operational statutes of other libraries,” said Bosman. “So if only a handful of libraries in the country have the material we’re looking for and they don’t have enough staff there, we can’t borrow it. ”
Although materials from interlibrary loans are not available for delivery, Bosman said students can still physically pick up anything that can be borrowed directly from the Davis Library or the Health Sciences Library via pickup. without contact.
Second-year student Julia Aminzadeh, a media and journalism graduate, said she used the virtual resources of UNC libraries through the online catalog for various projects this fall.
Aminzadeh said she appreciated the efforts of university libraries to create this new service. But she also said that as an out-of-state student living in Maryland, she worried about how long it would take for a mailed resource to arrive.
“If the book is online and I need to complete an assignment quickly, then I don’t think I would use it because online versions are readily available,” Aminzadeh said. “I would be open to using it, but I think for now I’ll just stick with the online versions while I’m remote.”
For now, Bosman has said the courier delivery service is only expected to operate during the remainder of the fall semester. In December, UNC library staff will conduct a review and the program will continue into the spring if necessary.
“It will definitely be a lot of extra work for the library staff, and I’m really happy to see that staff from all the different library departments are volunteering for shifts and doing things they don’t do.” normally to get those services off the ground, ”Bosman said. “But it’s really nice to be able to offer some of our material to students who can’t come to campus.”
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