Open Access goes Barcamp, Part 2: How to organise networking online

by Hannah Schneider (KIM), Andreas Kirchner (KIM) und Maximilian Heber (KIM)

You normally get together for a Barcamp event on site in a relaxed atmosphere, write ideas on whiteboards, pinboards or flipcharts and switch back and forth between the sessions as you see fit. You also naturally get into conversations with others in the kitchenette, in the corridors, during breaks or when having dinner together. All these elements enliven Barcamps and make them what they are. So how do you succeed in transferring a physical setting of this kind into a virtual space while staying true to the character of a Barcamp event?

Choose the right tools for the online Barcamp event

As we wanted the virtual Open Access Barcamp to reflect not only the exchange of information and ideas but also the networking character online, we decided to use gather.town as the technical basis. In our opinion, this tool is better than other videoconferencing software, such as Zoom or BigBlueButton, at facilitating quick conversational exchanges and the independent formation of small groups. A special feature of gather.town is that it offers users the option of moving around freely as a small figure in a space specially created for the respective event. As soon as you approach others, the camera and microphone are activated. This helps participants make a variety of contacts – just like at real meetings. We also considered using wonder.me, but since it does not provide for flexible room design, we ultimately decided against it.

Screenshot 1: The Gather.town room (CC BY 4.0)

We also used the online whiteboard Miro to collaboratively collect topics and for documentation purposes. This gave participants the opportunity to catch up on the contents of the sessions they could not attend. We chose Miro because it offers both a voting function and enough space for different groups to work in different corners at the same time.

Since technical issues and problems are to be expected when using such interactive tools, there were also two people in the conference room who provided technical support throughout the event, in addition to a central helpdesk email address. This proved to be very helpful, especially at the beginning of the event. An illustrated guide on how to use the tools was sent out in advance to help participants prepare for the event.

Screenshot 2: The Miro whitheboard (CC BY 4.0)

A central point of the programme at the beginning of each Barcamp event is the session planning to collectively set the agenda. The aim was to fill the five 45-minute sessions with up to three parallel events. To do so, we first collected topics on Miro and then presented each topic for one minute in an elevator pitch. A vote integrated into Miro then determined which topics should be included in the agenda. Care was taken to ensure that they did not overlap in order to allow as many people as possible to participate in the most popular sessions. The scheduling preference of the people giving the sessions was also taken into account.

Illustration 3: Session planning (CC BY 4.0)

To sweeten the break for the participants while the organisation team finalised the programme, a conference bag containing Open Access items and chocolates was sent to their home office in advance as a “care package”. For this purpose, we had asked the participants to provide their addresses on a voluntary basis during registration and most of them accepted the offer.

Illustration 4: Carepaket (CC BY 4.0)

How to create networking opportunities online

Since networking with other people is often more difficult at online events than at on-site meetings, and brief conversations during the coffee break usually don’t happen during virtual events, we specifically scheduled times for socialising.

Participants were given time to get to know each other better on the first day. For this purpose, three organisational questions were asked, according to which everyone in the gather.town room was asked to line up (for example, “I have already been to a Barcamp event” ? line up in ascending order from never to very often). The resulting groups were then given the opportunity to chat.

A kind of “speed dating” activity also took place allowing participants to talk to one person for five minutes, after which the interlocutors changed partners in order to ensure that each participant could have several different conversations.

We also deliberately left a time slot open on the second day for topics that either had not made it onto the agenda or required more extensive discussion. During this time slot, everyone could gather around “topic tables” to discuss aspects that concern them personally in their everyday work with Open Access. In keeping with the motto “bring-your-own-problem”, this facilitated practice-oriented discussions in smaller groups, for example on the topics of secondary publications, publication funds or Open Access consulting services.

During the evening programme, likewise held in gather.town, the participants were first given the opportunity to put their general knowledge to the test in a pub quiz. They then also had a chance to make or consolidate contacts with other Open Access enthusiasts in an informal setting. Although all the participants had spent the whole day sitting in front of the screen, about 25 people met up again in gather.town in the evening. Even though the quiz could have been a little shorter according to the feedback from some participants, it was a relaxed get-together despite the virtual setting.

The online Barcamp thrived on the active participation

We feel that the virtual Open Access Barcamp was a successful experiment all things considered and are pleased that the community had a lively exchange of ideas in our innovative setting. The two-day online event thrived on the contribution and collaboration of everyone and the active engagement of the participants. Numerous practical aspects and challenges in the everyday work with Open Access were addressed and discussed, and participants looked for solutions together.

We would like to point out that the vast majority of participants saw the video conferencing tool gather.town as very suitable, despite initial technical difficulties. It not only challenged and supported participants with their activities, but also facilitated conversations in the virtual kitchenette or socialising time slots. The combination with an online whiteboard such as Miro has also proven successful for session planning as well as for collaboration and documentation during the Open Access Barcamp. It should be noted, however, that the technical performance of online events is highly dependent on the internet connection and other technical conditions that are difficult to influence as an organiser. The virtual format nevertheless offers all interested parties the opportunity to exchange ideas easily with the Open Access community, regardless of location and without having to travel far or implement other logistical planning measures.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all participants for their active and lively engagement in the programme. We would also like to thank them for their openness to the unconventional online format and their patience with technical problems. A big thank you also goes out to the entire open-access.network project team for their great teamwork. We are looking forward to #OABarcamp22 next year!

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This text has been translated from German.

The post Open Access goes Barcamp, Part 2: How to organise networking online first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Digitalisation in Libraries: 5 Lessons from the Corona Crisis for the New Normal

by Doreen Siegfried

What innovative push towards digitalisation in libraries worldwide has been ushered in by the coronavirus? What was digitalisation status at the beginning of the corona pandemic? What were the biggest challenges for infrastructure institutions? How were they solved? What were the “highlights” of the employees? What was the biggest “life hack” that an institution picked up from the corona crisis in the field of digitalisation? And what have you learned from it?

We recently put these and other questions to our partners in the international EconBiz network. In a detailed overview, eight infrastructure institutions from Singapore, France, Germany, the USA, Denmark, Malaysia and Turkey described their experiences and the most important lessons learned from the pandemic: Digitalisation in Libraries – To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost? In a short report we now introduce the five most important trends and lessons from the network, which are sure to be reflected all over the world as well.

Lesson #1: Virtual collaboration facilitates cross-location cooperation

Digital communication technologies have fundamentally changed teamwork in academic libraries. New patterns of behaviour have been created worldwide. Virtual meetings, break-out sessions, discussions with courtesy breaks, chats and working at a distance have been learned and are now part of the standard repertoire of collaboration in libraries.

The Aarhus University Library / The Royal Danish Library, for example, with its 900 employees spread across different locations in Denmark, has sustainably reduced the social distance between branches through digital tools. Thanks to virtual working with video conference systems, employees have grown together and will continue to use their new work tools. Susanne Dalsgaard Krag, library manager, writes:

„The pandemic has taught us to work together across departments and across the country in a way we would never have imagined. You can mention a lot of different things, we have learned during the pandemic, but I guess this is one of the biggest advantages, and something we will carry into the post pandemic world, which we all look forward to welcome.“

Lesson #2: Investing in human resource development pays off

What has become clear for all EconBiz partners throughout the globe is: We are living in new times. There will be no going back to a pre-corona era. Working according to prefabricated workflows was yesterday. What propelled the libraries forward were creative employees with the ability to adapt rapidly to continually new parameters and to accept this state of fluctuation. This awareness for working and living in a VUCA world – in other words a world determined by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – will also define personnel management in academic libraries in the post-corona era.

Rajen Munoo, Head of Learning and Engagement at Singapore Management University Libraries, stresses:

„Our biggest ‘life hack’ was upskilling – to ensure that all staff were ‘vaccinated’ with digital skills to be resilient and agile by providing them with opportunities to learn, unlearn and relearn through continuing professional development opportunities in this VUCA world.“

Corey Seeman, USA, University of Michigan, Kresge Library Services, summarises:

„Libraries will have a choice on the other end of this pandemic to keep the changes that have been implemented or revert back to their previous normal ways. The path forward will likely be a combination of these both, but it is important to embrace these changes as a way to a more modern library.“

Lesson #3: Good networks are crucial for fast and stable solutions

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, infrastructure institutions have had to continually develop new solutions in order to keep hygiene regulations and health and safety measures. They therefore enter a dialogue not only with the authorities but also with other institutions on the campus or in the wider world. Those who are well connected here, can easily find common solutions. Rajen Munoo from the Singapore Management University Libraries, suggests:

„With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-changing directives from various agencies, our priority was collaborating with campus partners in order to comply with the health and safety protocols“.

Lesson #4: Empathy for users promotes creativity

Those who deal with the needs and wishes of users in an empathic way will also find creative solutions. This is suggested by a study from the University of Cambridge. The experiences of the EconBiz partners also reveal that creative solutions are found wherever libraries show empathy for the fears and insecurities of students – no matter whether they are freshers or advanced students. In Singapore, for example, the libraries use “peer advisors” to dispel the fears of the new students taking part in an online semester for the first time with a peer-to-peer learning programme.

Christine Okret-Manville from the Université Paris Dauphine-PSL Bibliothèque in France writes:

„To help our readers make the most of all these resources, we put a series of tutorials for self-training online (bilingual). We quickly put up virtual training sessions. […] In this difficult period, we had to show an especially supportive behaviour towards one another to manage adapting quickly to unusual work conditions. Yet it gave us an opportunity to increase and diversify our services, introducing virtuality where we didn’t use it enough or at all yet, and giving us new leads to expand our activity.“

And also Corey Seeman from the Kresge Library Services in Michigan can gain something from new digital solutions beyond the current lockdown:

„Library instruction and consultations via Zoom will likely continue. One of the challenges we would have is finding a space that could work for meetings. By using Zoom, the need for space mostly goes away.“

In an international online poster session organised by Koç University (Turkey), many ideas were presented on how to stay in touch with employees but also with students – from motivational emails to online pet therapy with various animals.

Lesson #5: Digital first is measurably worth it

Many libraries from the EconBiz partner network had already made a large quantity of electronic resources accessible even before lockdown. Propelled by COVID-19, they once again improved their digital services and found solutions for even more accessible e-media. Christine Okret-Manville from Paris:

„Our priority has been to extend the size and availability of our electronic collection: we offered remote access to the financial databases which were only available on site, tested new textbook databases and other sources. We dedicated a section of our website to resources publishers could open freely during that time.“

Vasiliki Mole from Koç University in Turkey also reports on the considerable efforts – both to enable students to access electronic media as well as to create enthusiasm for new possibilities.

„Sometimes, the comfort zone of years’ old practices is hard to overcome, as it creates a somewhat stiff acceptance of a new perspective. A rather difficult issue we have finally come to a point to change, has been the traditional print textbooks and their replacement with online publications.“
Deborah Wallace from the Harvard Business School’s Baker Library (USA) emphasises that the effort pays off in very clear indicators:

„As a result, almost every one of our services and information product use volumes have increased. For example, Baker Library website use by MBA students +73% and alumni +43%, database use +76%, Working Knowledge, readership +51%, and Books@Baker participants +90%.“

You can read about the experiences of the individual EconBiz partners in detail here: Digitalisation in Libraries: To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost?

About the EconBiz partner network:

The EconBiz partner network is an international network of libraries and research institutions focusing on economics studies. Its mission is to enable top research in economics and business studies through easy access to quality subject information in combination with state-of-the art search-features. The network promotes the transfer of knowledge and cooperation among members worldwide. Its mission is to enable top research in economics and business studies through easy access to quality subject information in combination with state-of-the art search-features. The network helps to promote the service on an international level and to enhance the visibility of research output and conferences in all partner countries. It also provides a forum for the discussion of topics relevant to the partners. Answers to questions as well as partners for joint projects can be found through the network.

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Further articles by Doreen Siegfried

This article also appeared in the 2020 ZBW Annual Review “Open” (PDF) that highlights developments at the ZBW, among other things: Research Data Management, Open Science and organised knowledge.

This text has been translated from German.

The post Digitalisation in Libraries: 5 Lessons from the Corona Crisis for the New Normal first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Digitisation in Libraries: To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost?

by Susanne Daalsgaard Krag, Aida Maria Ismail, Vasiliki Mole, Rajen Munoo, Christine Okret-Manville, Tamara Pianos, Corey Seeman, Claudia Sittner, Klaus Tochtermann, and Deb Wallace

Together with the partners from the EconBiz network, we set out to find the effects of the corona pandemic on digitisation in (digital infrastructure) institutes, libraries and workplaces around the world. The international EconBiz partner network started in 2012 and has 40 partners in many different countries.

So, how did the institutes from across the globe experience the changes? Are there differences across regions, countries and continents? To find out we asked the partners from the network: What innovation push towards digitisation has the coronavirus triggered in your institution? What was the state of digitisation in your institution at the beginning of the corona pandemic? What was your highlight? What was the biggest challenge? How did you solve it? What was your biggest learning? What is the biggest “life hack” that your institution has taken away from the corona crisis in the area of digitisation?

The result is an exciting wealth of experience from partner institutes from Singapure, France, Germany, the USA, Denmark, Malaysia and Turkey. Thanks to their shared experiences, it becomes possible to look beyond our own corona plates and shows which creative solutions have been found in other parts of the world.

COVID-19 learnings at AU Library / The Royal Danish Library
by Susanne Dalsgaard Krag, Denmark

COVID-19 learnings at AU Library / The Royal Danish Library

by Susanne Dalsgaard Krag, Denmark

COVID-19 came like a thief in the night, and changed all our lives. From one day to another, all the libraries closed down, including The Royal Danish Library. We all needed to find other ways to do things. It has been an exciting voyage and looking back at almost a year of corona pandemic, one can see the results of a true disruption.

Denmark is a highly digitised country. Almost 99% of the population have access to internet connection, which showed to be a very great advantage during the shut downs. At the university libraries we have been preparing for the digital change in quite a while, but in March 2020 we were forced to take a huge step into the digital age, like the rest of the world.

Up to the pandemic we had been training skills in edu-it and virtual meetings, but without the big break through. Now suddenly these skills came into use, and most of the staff are now fully comfortable in online teaching and guidance, and a very big number of digital learning objects have been prepared and published on the homepage. The creativity has been exceptional. We have learned to use the virtual environment to compensate for the social distance, and we can make break out rooms, change virtual background, chat and raise hands in Zoom and Teams. We learned a lot about, what works, and what doesn’t.

The Royal Danish Library has 800 to 900 staff members spread all over the country, and the pandemic has taught us to work together across departments and across the country in a way we would never have imagined. You can mention a lot of different things, we have learned during the pandemic, but I guess this is one of the biggest advantages, and something we will carry into the post pandemic world, which we all look forward to welcome.

More Online Meetings and Events, online-connectedness
and future café at the ZBW
by Klaus Tochtermann, Germany

More Online Meetings and Events, online-connectedness and future café at the ZBW

by Klaus Tochtermann, Germany

Digitisation and digital skills were important topics and working from home was an option for many colleagues at ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics long before the corona pandemic. Nonetheless, there was still a huge push towards using more digital tools and platforms during the first months of the pandemic. In March 2020, many employees got Zoom-accounts and were able to organise virtual events for up to 300 people. This option was used widely for many different kinds of events. By the end of October, all 270 ZBW-employees were entitled to get WebEx-accounts to organise their own virtual meetings and to use WebEx-Teams for chats etc.

Huge conferences organised by the ZBW were quickly moved to online formats and had even more participants from more countries than in previous years (for example the SWIB – Semantic Web in Libraries, the YES! – Young Economic Summit or the upcoming Open Science Conference).

In order to support social interaction of the employees an internal platform is used to share experiences in dealing with the situation from life-hacks, instructions on keeping your neck-muscles in shape to uplifting thoughts and new hobbies. Since many ZBW-employees mostly worked from home, it was feared that the feeling of connectedness and common purpose might suffer. In order to battle this, the directors launched a 30 minute “future café” which is offered every other week – talking about a specific topic with a question and answers section. Many people from both ZBW-locations in Kiel and Hamburg attend these short meetings – which would be difficult to achieve with on-site-events.

During the first shutdown – when the library was closed for a couple of weeks – students were supported with motivational letters up to five times a week. ZBW services offer special corona-related pages on information access or research or a topic page within the EconBiz Author Profiles.

Since teaching at the universities had to be moved online within a couple of weeks as well, professors asked for support in online instruction methods, so the ZBW organised two online panels and gathered some best practice solutions (German).

The pandemic was and is very challenging for many people but it also opened a number of new opportunities and boosted creative online solutions.

Pandemic Pains Pivots Possibilities at Singapore Management University Libraries
by Rajen Munoo, Singapore

Pandemic Pains Pivots Possibilities at Singapore Management University Libraries

by Rajen Munoo, Singapore

I am currently Head, Learning and Engagement at Singapore Management University Libraries (SMU) – comprising the Li Ka Shing and Kwa Geok Choo Law Libraries. The Libraries serve six schools with an enrolment of around 10,000 undergraduates and postgraduates. Being a city campus where space is prime, SMU Libraries always had a digital first approach where over 90% of our collections and resources are digital. A robust systems infrastructure of various online applications supports the research, teaching and learning needs of the community.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-changing directives from various agencies, our priority was collaborating with campus partners in order to comply with the health and safety protocols. To meet this challenge we put in place a business continuity plan that pivoted our digital strategy and also became a catalyst for change.

Our highlights were the various creative ideas implemented by the SMU Libraries team such as:

  • pick-up-and-go access service, quickly sourcing e-textbooks and Open Educational Resources (OER) and reaching out to faculty to navigate copyright compliance;
  • a knowledge portal of the gratis access to databases provided by vendors during the pandemic;
  • redeploying student assistants to extend the virtual “Ask Library” chat service beyond normal library hours to optimise the value-add of library staff and continue to provide work opportunities for students with the physical libraries closure.
  • Our Library Peer Advisors also stepped forward when the freshmen orientation moved online to curate Online Learning is Different! Succeed in Online Learning a peer-to-peer learning programme that comprised workshops and hacks to help quell the anxiety of new students across the university taking an online semester for the first time!

    Stakeholder involvement and communication to ensure no one was left behind, was the biggest learning for the leadership team especially in a service-oriented profession.

    Our biggest “life hack” was upskilling – to ensure that all staff were “vaccinated” with digital skills to be resilient and agile by providing them with opportunities to learn, unlearn and relearn through continuing professional development opportunities in this VUCA.

    Onward in the spirit of #OneSMULibraries …

COVID-19 and Dauphine-PSL library: Pushing electronic resources
and self-training to the fore
by Christine Okret-Manville, France

COVID-19 and Dauphine-PSL library: Pushing electronic resources and self-training to the fore

by Christine Okret-Manville, France

In the library of Université Paris Dauphine-PSL, we had already gathered a large amount of electronic resources in pre-coronavirus times. But the lockdown forced us to pause and think, to come up with ideas to improve our virtual services.

Our priority has been to extend the size and availability of our electronic collection: we offered remote access to the financial databases which were only available on site, tested new textbook databases and other sources. We dedicated a section of our website to resources publishers could open freely during that time.

To help our readers make the most of all these resources, we put a series of tutorials for self-training online (bilingual). We quickly put up virtual training sessions. We promoted our questions and answers module to maintain contact with our readers. Eventually, through Twitter, Facebook, internal mailing lists and the website, we fed our followers with a regular flow of information.

In this difficult period, we had to show an especially supportive behaviour towards one another to manage adapting quickly to unusual work conditions. Yet it gave us an opportunity to increase and diversify our services, introducing virtuality where we didn’t use it enough or at all yet, and giving us new leads to expand our activity.

Jaws: how Koç University Suna K?raç Library fought against the pandemic
and managed to hunt the beast down
by Vasiliki Mole, Turkey

Jaws: how Koç University Suna K?raç Library fought against the pandemic and managed to hunt the beast down

by Vasiliki Mole, Turkey

Koç University (KU) is one of the leading universities in Turkey, distinguished by notable contributions to the elevation of education, knowledge and service both domestically and beyond. Suna K?raç Library, the main University library embraces and follows closely and consistently the University’s efforts to advance knowledge.

Koç University Suna K?raç Library has fought COVID-19 investing long working hours and determination to turn the situation into an opportunity to develop distant access solutions for its users. Among the highlights of the previous year are

The biggest challenge for us has been to see our efforts and adaptations having a positive result to the community. Sometimes, the comfort zone of years’ old practices is hard to overcome, as it creates a somewhat stiff acceptance of a new perspective. A rather difficult issue we have finally come to a point to change, has been the traditional print textbooks and their replacement with online publications.

Academia brings together the advantage of continuous improvement which benefits all related stakeholders, including the libraries. The current global state dictates that we should always keep our eyes open to new opportunities that will strengthen our profile and consequently will help us accomplish our primary goal: serving our users the best way!

Kresge Library Services and the Great Flip of 2020: Innovation & COVID-19
by Corey Seeman, USA

Kresge Library Services and the Great Flip of 2020: Innovation & COVID-19

by Corey Seeman, USA

Kresge Library Services supports the business information needs of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Back in 2013, we were a fairly traditional business library, with 70,000 volumes, seating for nearly 700 students, and over 100 service hours a week. During a large construction project at the Ross School of Business (2014-2016), the library space for print volumes and student study were removed completely. So we reinvented itselves as a digital only library (or as we call it – the ethereal library). From the time we moved out of our old library space, we were a mostly digital library and (though we did not know it at the time), very well suited for the challenges of a pandemic.

While our collections were virtually all electronic, we had a few in-person services only performed at the library. These included our exam and assignment review and handback service for Ross classes and course material pickup (for printed versions of cases and required readings). In March 2020, with the move to virtual classes, we pivoted easily to meet these new dynamics. We shut down the services that were in-person because there was no way to complete them effectively in a remote fashion.

We developed a number of hacks and changes that will likely be a part of our library from here on out:

  • We have long advocated for flexible scheduling, but we were able to expand our coverage by allowing people to work at different times. Giving flexibility to your team can lead to expanded hours of service for your patrons.
  • Meetings via Zoom will continue when normalcy returns! Typically, we would try to schedule team meetings for days when everyone can be in the office, but now we can be more flexible.
  • Library instruction and consultations via Zoom will likely continue. One of the challenges we would have is finding a space that could work for meetings. By using Zoom, the need for space mostly goes away.

Libraries will have a choice on the other end of this pandemic to keep the changes that have been implemented or revert back to their previous normal ways. The path forward will likely be a combination of these both, but it is important to embrace these changes as a way to a more modern library.

COVID-19 Inspired Innovation at Harvard Business School’s Baker Library
by Deb Wallace, USA

COVID-19 Inspired Innovation at Harvard Business School’s Baker Library

by Deb Wallace, USA

Baker Library sits at the scholastic, physical, and emotional “heart” of the Harvard Business School (HBS) campus. When the decision to move the majority of the School’s activities to online platforms was implemented on March 18, 2020, Baker Library leveraged its decade-long investment in staff capability development, digital collections, semantic search, and a content management/publishing platform to enable continued pursuit of the School’s mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world.

To meet the research, teaching, and learning needs of our community of students, faculty, alumni, and staff, we repositioned services and created new self-service information products, including components of an internal information portal to enable just-in-time decision-making and the HBS COVID-19 Business Impact Center, an external-facing repository and newsletter that provides the latest research and insights from HBS faculty.

In addition to creating new products, we expanded our virtual reference and digital content delivery services, published 10,000+ digital surrogates of unique materials, and increased access to licensed databases and digital alternatives to print resources. We also created the HBS COVID-19 Community Archive to chronicle the experience and launched a collecting strategy to document this unprecedented time in American business through company records and websites.

As a result, almost every one of our services and information product use volumes have increased. For example, Baker Library website use by MBA students +73% and alumni +43%, database use +76%, Working Knowledge, readership +51%, and Books@Baker participants +90%.

Our greatest challenges are prioritising work, allocating limited resources, and sustaining our teams as they juggled remote work, child and eldercare, and related issues to the growing racial and political strife and healthcare crisis that the US continues to experience. I am indebted to the staff’s commitment to our goals, passion for our work, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial spirit. They are certainly the “secret sauce” of our ability to remain relevant to our community!

Students support SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic
by Aida Maria Ismail, Malaysia

Students support SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Aida Maria Ismail, Malaysia

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia resulted in an unprecedented slump in economic activity. Businesses adopted digital measures to make up for the shortfall in traditional sources of revenue. As more business establishments digitalise, firms that are left out of this digital revolution will struggle to survive, let alone thrive. Although the prevailing wisdom is that COVID-19 has ushered in a pivot to digitalisation, there remain many challenges that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) face in doing so. Digitalisation is increasingly useful for SMEs to improve efficiency and competitiveness; despite they perform relatively poorly in digitalisation. Government and policy interventions can facilitate this process, and the university can assist in supporting SMEs digitalisation and survivalist.

The Malaysian education framework direction and way forward addresses the local community needs and issues. Through the ‘Service-Learning Malaysia – University for Society’ (SULAM) which was initiated by the Ministry of Education, students participate in a structured service activity that meets identified community needs. It is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience. SULAM pedagogy supports humanistic and value-driven education as a key to strengthening the education system by integrating love, happiness and mutual respect.

Four classes of final semester students, Bachelor of Accountancy (Hons) from the Faculty of Accountancy Universiti Teknologi MARA Selangor involved in SULAM, in helping four SMEs’, managing the impact of the pandemic on business sustainability. In order to ensure businesses, remain resilient during this pandemic, students conducted a comprehensive business analysis in order to advise on sustainable strategy and mechanism. Elements of digitalisation were incorporated in the sustainability strategy and mechanism since this will ensure businesses remain competitive. Business model canvases (BMC) and business plans were among the documents prepared by students in helping SMEs getting assistance from the government economic stimulus package. According to the new standard, 90% of the implementation of SULAM took place via a digital platform.

As an advisor to this project, it was a valuable experience since I was able to see how students engage in activities that address community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning. It is capable of enhancing the sense of social responsibility, religious and racial tolerance as well as developing skills such as the ability to work well with others, critical thinking skills and creative, leadership and communication skills.

How the corona pandemic has advanced digitisation in libraries

The corona crisis caught us all cold. When suddenly all libraries and institutes more or less closed their on-site services, the first thing to do was to take stock. The result: many institutes had long since made the leap into digitisation or had almost done so. The staff had been trained and had the necessary skills to do their jobs digitally. Now the task was to apply the knowledge they had learned and to improve services that were not yet sufficiently digitalised.

Many libraries created extra websites with corona information and made collections accessible online that were normally only accessible on site. Communication with staff and users took on an important role, which in many places was solved with great personal commitment and creativity. Websites became more dynamic and social media and newsletters were perceived as even more important. The staff was the “secret ingredient” that made so much possible during the pandemic.

To compensate for the lack of social interaction, to keep teams together and motivated, and to keep personal contact with users online, tools such as Zoom or Teams were made available across the board and learned almost overnight.

The group of (often quite young) students was especially supported with a lot of understanding and compassion in the EconBiz partner institutes all over the world, for example with extended chat consultation hours, longer online opening hours or “corona letters” of encouragement. Self-training for a wide range of online and learning skills has been developed and offered to users.

In addition to all the challenges, the crisis was also recognised in many places as an opportunity to make a leap into the possibilities of digitalisation. And even if everyone is longing for a new normality right now, much of what was established and cherished during the corona period will certainly remain part of this new working world.

Note: Originally, another EconBiz partner institution wanted to share their experiences as well. Since they were under a ransomware attack they had more pressing issues than this blogpost. This may happen to any service we provide and shows how fragile digital services can be and that we all have to face many digital challenges in the future. When things work, we sometimes tend to forget.

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About the authors:

Dr Tamara Pianos studied Geography and English literature. After completing her doctorate in Canadian Studies and a traineeship as an academic librarian she worked at the TIB in Hanover. Since 2005, she has been working at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, where she is now head of Information Provision and Access. She is the product manager of the EconBiz portal and is responsible for information literacy topics.

Claudia Sittner studied journalism and languages in Hamburg and London. She was a long time lecturer at the ZBW publication Wirtschaftsdienst – a journal for economic policy, and is now the managing editor of the blog ZBW MediaTalk. Part time she works as a freelance travel blogger, speaker and author.

Prof Klaus Tochtermann is Director of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics . For many years he has been committed to Open Science on a national and international level. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of the EOSC Association (European Open Science Cloud).

Rajen Munoo has been employed at the Singapore Management University (SMU) Libraries for over 13 years now primarily in the role of working with a team of Research Librarians to design, develop and deliver learning programmes including information literacy classes and workshops for their respective Schools and the wider SMU community. His areas of interest are information and digital literacies, continuing professional development of library and information workers and pedagogy and instructional design.

Christine Okret-Manville has a PhD in History, a degree in Political Science and an Archivist-Palaeographer Diploma (Archive and Library Science). She holds the position of Deputy Director of the Université Paris Dauphine-PSL Library and is also in charge of the library services for researchers, and the management of the university repository BIRD.

Vasiliki Mole is a librarian with a B.A. in Library Science and Information Systems and an M.A. in Cultural Management. She has worked in Academic Libraries, mainly as an Instruction and Reference Librarian focusing on Information Literacy, Outreach and Research support. She is currently serving as the Head Librarian of the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) Library.

Corey Seeman (personal website) is the director of Kresge Library Services (Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor). Corey has written and presented on customer service and change management within libraries, especially academic ones.

Deb Wallace is the Executive Director of Knowledge and Library Services and is a member of the HBS Senior Leadership Team. She manages a team of library, archival, technical, and research professionals in providing innovative products and services to meet the needs of the HBS and Harvard University communities.

Aida Maria Ismail PhD is Senior lecturer at the Faculty of Accountancy, University Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Selangor Malaysia. Her responsibility covers from teaching & learning activities, supervising research students, conducting research, publication and consultancy. Her area of expertise is ethics, governance and sustainability.

References Portraits:
Susanne Dalsgaard Krag© | Klaus Tochtermann: Sven Wied/ZBW© | Rajen Munoo© | Christine Okret-Manville: Patrick Dardinier© | Vasiliki Mole© | Corey Seeman: Bob Hebert/Wake Forest University Library© | Deb Wallace© | Aida Maria Ismail©.

The post Digitisation in Libraries: To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost? first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.The post Digitisation in Libraries: To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost? first appeared on Leibniz Research Alliance Open Science.