Volume 18, Number 2 | August 2020
Networking - It's in Our Name!
Read on to learn how BC ELN’s service and resource networks have increased capacity and provided valuable support in response to COVID-19.
Networks of Support
For more than thirty years BC ELN has fostered networks within, and beyond, the post-secondary library sector through group licensing and shared services. Designed to carefully leverage resources, these networks bring cost savings and deliver benefits to all participants. As disruptions caused by COVID-19 continue to place incredible pressure on students, educators, and the institutions that serve them, we’ve further seen how these networks provide continuity and a valuable infrastructure of support that is so needed in challenging times.

Now, more than ever, as in-person services have been reduced in response to the pandemic, post-secondary students in the province have turned to BC ELN’s Learning Support services AskAway and WriteAway for research and writing help. Patrons can access these online services from any Internet-connected computer and service providers have long been accustomed to helping students virtually.
Photo of colourful game pieces with a quote: The time to build a network is always before you need one. By Douglas Conant.
Photo of colourful toy markers with quote from a VIU student that used AskAway: This is a great service - especially since the COVID-19 pandemic requires social distancing. Thank you!
WriteAway saw weekly increases of 50% through the spring session and continues to see higher usage than usual, while AskAway received 60% more calls in the spring than the previous year, and it too is continuing to see increased usage. Both services are well equipped to handle this higher volume. Central management by BC ELN Coordinators means that system capacity is carefully monitored and participating institutions are alerted when additional help may be needed. Institutions in turn have swiftly responded to pinch points by contributing additional staffing. As a result of this established and agile network, students have experienced uninterrupted – and more often than not, expanded – access to critical academic support.

Central coordination of BC ELN services has proven particularly advantageous through COVID-19. Coordinators are experts on both provision of services (e.g. scheduling, best practices) and underlying software. Illume interlibrary loans for example, makes use of SHAREIt, a powerful and complex platform. When interlibrary loans of physical materials were paused in mid-March due to concerns around transmitting the virus, library staff looked to the Illume Administrative Centre for guidance on how to manage and adapt workflows. At the request of participating libraries, the Admin Centre produced new and revised online training. And as physical lending gears up once more, the Admin Centre is sharing best practices on how to manage the transition.

Often referred to as BC ELN’s bread and butter work, licensing electronic resources on behalf of partner libraries is another networked activity that is bolstering libraries through unforeseen events like COVID-19. With a focus on online resources such as electronic journals, ebooks, and streaming media, BC ELN-licensed content supports students and faculty even as they work remotely. The BC ELN Office has been advocating no to low annual increases with vendors to reduce the financial burden on institutions. With library budgets likely facing restrictions in the near future, cost savings delivered by collaborative licensing will be more necessary than ever.

While the uncertainty brought by COVID-19 presents challenges for all of us, BC ELN remains steadfast in facilitating cooperative and collaborative access to critical services and resources for the province’s research and learning communities. Together, we are stronger. Through our established networks, we are able to respond to change and support one another in difficult times.
BCHDP-Arca Hosting Initiative Expands Access to BC's Historical Treasures
Black and white photo of a fishing boat coming into shore
More of BC’s rich history will be available online thanks to a five-year extension of the BCHDP-Arca Hosting Initiative. A partnership between BC ELN and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (IKBLC) at the University of British Columbia Library, the initiative allows BC History Digitization Program (BCHDP) past and present grant recipients the option to host their digitized material on Arca, BC's collaborative digital repository, at no cost. Ten GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) organizations – groups like the Potters Guild of BC and grunt gallery – have joined Arca in the 3-year pilot period. Both BC ELN and IKBLC have committed to supporting the initiative into 2025. Read the press release.

Image: Keith Philippson at the wheel of his packer the Pacific Surf at the North Pacific Cannery, Bill Pearce Collection, Northern Pacific Cannery, BC History Digitization Program Arca repository, August 31, 2020, https://arcabc.ca/islandora/object/npc%3A10.
BC ELN Service Spotlights
Learn the latest about BC ELN services. For a more detailed list of BC ELN progress, please visit our Progress Reports page.
Icon of an open treasure chest
Arca Collaborative Digital Repository

Ready to get your hands dirty? Introducing “the Arca Sandbox”, a test space for Arca participants to experiment with configuration, new modules, and theming in an environment that looks just like the real Arca site. UFV Library Technician students now have a sandbox space to learn with and explore. Contact the Arca Office to set up an account today.

Arca visitors can now expect faster load times thanks to Cloudflare, Arca’s new firewall service that stops DDOS (Distributed Denial-Of-Service) attacks, and has the added bonus of speeding up access.
Icon of two chat bubbles
AskAway Chat Reference

Participating libraries rallied to help greater numbers of students using AskAway this summer as classes and library services remained primarily online. Service providers assisted 90% more chat visitors in May/June than the previous year, and AskAway remained open during the semester break.

Anticipating increased student need again this Fall, AskAway will open two weeks earlier than usual in September with added staff available to help. Let your students know: September 8th, we'll be ready!
Icon of a book with a share symbole
Illume Interlibrary Resource Sharing

Help is now available for library staff exploring new ways to deliver contact-less library services during COVID-19. The Illume support centre has redesigned the Patron-initiated Interlibrary Loans guide, including videos for every step of the process, and updated guides such as the Borrowing Policy and ILL Review.

Good news: With post-secondary libraries adding further services and most public libraries re-opening interlibrary loans soon - the support centre is here to help restore Illume services.
Icon of a contract and pen
Collaborative Licensing

BC ELN partner libraries now have four new resources to choose from: 4 Seasons of Reconciliation, Audio Cine Films Streaming (ACF), Harvard Business Review Press eBook Collection, and ProQuest Academic Video Online (AVON). Learn more about these resources on the BC ELN eResources page.

The BC ELN Offices has begun consultation with partner libraries in preparation for the next common suite cycle. A preliminary survey was conducted in July; watch for results to be shared soon.
Icon of a paper with feedback symbol
WriteAway Online Tutoring

WriteAway saw much higher student usage through the summer. Participating institutions chipped in additional tutoring hours to manage submissions, and WriteAway remained open two weeks longer than usual. Students can expect the same timely and efficient service this fall as institutions have increased tutoring support.

Students at Alexander College now have online writing help through WriteAway. Alexander College is the 18th institution to join WriteAway.
An International Statement on COVID-19 Impact
Earlier this year the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) produced a Statement on the Global COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Impact on Library Services and Resources. It is intended to both inform vendors and publishers of the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has on the information community, and suggest approaches that will ease hardships - such as opening access to paywalled content.
BC ELN Executive Director Anita Cocchia serves on the ICOLC Coordinating Committee which created the statement. BC ELN and the Electronic Health Library of BC (administered by BC ELN) were early signatories, joining 112 other consortia from around the globe. Many providers have responded to COVID-19 by providing complimentary expanded access; ICOLC is tracking these on behalf of consortia.