onths 8-10 of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect every aspect of VDOT, including VDOT's Research Library. Library staffers find the library to be busy but business is "irregular" in many ways, as our customers continue to adjust to telework. Library staffers are adapting to support customers, many of whom are discovering that all library collections (including print collections) and services are actually available "virtually."
Full-text downloads from databases hit a record of 4,151 last quarter. To our surprise we topped that with a new record of 4,309 downloads this quarter. That is about 25% higher than our average over the past 5 years, leading us to conclude that VDOT patrons working remotely are able to effectively access library resources via "self-service" remotely as well.
Print resources were requested at high rates this quarter, led by the request for P.E. Exam materials (managed by Barb Neyman). It seems the pandemic is a good time for some to work toward the P.E. credential. Yet due to the pandemic NCEES cancelled the exam last spring. Since then, U.S. testing sites have proceeded at reduced capacity based on local restrictions, extending backlogs for exam takers. We expect that to continue, and have extended all material checkouts to support our patrons. In fact, this quarter we automatically renewed all overdue items (a total of 888 resources) due to the aforementioned constraints and the fact that many patrons don't have a way to easily ship items back to us. That has resulted in what appears to be a record circulation statistic this quarter, discussed in the cataloging section.
Our ILL lending symbol remains turned off, but we updated our status on the OCLC Physical ILL Return and Lending Status site to reflect that we "Ready to Receive" loaned items back. To date only have one item checked out to another library that has yet to be returned. Our patrons have 11 items that need to be returned to OCLC libraries we borrowed them from and we are working to get those items back.
In a small milestone Barb Neyman was the first library staffer to return to work "in-person" one day a week starting in December. We are proceeding tentatively with safety (and VTRC building capacity guidelines) as our top priority and the library remains closed to walk-in visitors.
VDOT IT Procurement Confusion Continues as a Library Challenge
We continue to experience delays in procurement for routine renewals of subscriptions due to challenges in communications and coordination of payment with VDOT IT procurement staff. These challenges may be representative of the Pandemic's "disruptive" effects on agencies like VDOT. Last quarter we had a database turned off due to late payment, an unfortunate precedent. While all library databases remained accessible this quarter, we had late bills for OCLC EZProxy, OCLC Firstsearch and OCLC cataloging. VRTC's business manager and procurement officer have been extremely helpful in working with VDOT IT to understand the nature and extent of the problem, and library staff resources (particularly the focus of Gil Kenner) were drawn away from normal patron interactions to help.
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