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Library creates and serves during pandemic uncertainty

Niraj Chaudhary, associate university librarian, in The Cube.

Niraj Chaudhary, associate university librarian, working in The Cube inside the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center.

May 28, 2020
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The William Knox Holt Library and Learning Center was mere days from grand reopening ceremonies, the culmination of a four-year project that transformed one of the heartbeats of the University of the Pacific Stockton Campus.

But the mid-March festivities were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students and faculty shifted into distance learning mode and much of the campus—including the library—was closed.

“It was disappointing,” said Niraj Chaudhary, associate university librarian. “But there was so much work going on and new work to be done.”

That work continues into the summer and toward the fall, and the hopeful re-opening of campus.

Chaudhary shared updates on library efforts, projects and initiatives.

  • Construction: Work on the library plaza and new fountain is concluding, which will mostly wrap up the construction project. Chaudhary estimates one month until completion. “It will be a much improved library entrance,” he said.

  • Print To Protect Coalition (PTPC): Library and learning center staff are active using 3D printers in The Cube to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health care personnel during the pandemic. Staff also has helped chart the coalition’s course with an ultimate goal to provide 10,000 PPE (current total: approximately 3,500). Library staff coordinated the creation of a new website for the PTPC. The site includes a counter for PPEs supplied and frequent updates on coalition work. The home page has several photos of staff in The Cube working on PPEs. 

  • Virtual reality: Library and learning center staff caused a buzz with recent efforts to switch computer science students’ senior projects to a “Games of Thrones” themed virtual realm. Keely Canniff ’19, digital projects manager for the library and learning center, led the effort to create the format. “The event has generated a lot of interest,” Chaudhary said. “Dean (Steve) Howell (School of Engineering and Computer Sciences) was very complimentary. It has opened up some doors to consider other virtual reality possibilities.”

  • Virtual reality, Part 2: Faculty in other departments have reached out to library staff to create virtual reality opportunities for Pacific classes. One example, Chaudhary said, was an “augmented reality” setup for geology classes. “We have to be prepared to help faculty for all types of learning formats, whether classes are in person, virtual or a combination,” he said.

  • Video production: The library is developing a video studio that would enable faculty to have 
    lectures or other work filmed. “The filming would be done in our studio, and then we would take it from there with all of the editing and post-production to prepare it for use in classes,” Chaudhary said.

  • Grand reopening ceremonies: The good news: preparations are complete and the dedication can happen—when the time is right, Chaudhary said. He added that Director of University Events and Ceremonies Steve Whyte told him, “Everything is set and we put it in a box. Just tell me when it’s time to re-open the box.”

  • Starbucks: The coffee shop was on the verge of opening before the shutdown of most of the campus in March. “They had finished their training, stocked up and were ready to go,” Chaudhary said. “They will be ready to go when students are back on campus.”

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