The following is an update I sent to our alumni. It is a version I sent off to our LIS students.
As you may know the university has extended Spring Break through next week and is then going online with all of its courses (graduate and undergraduate) for two weeks after that (through April 3). For the latest information on the university’s response please see:
To be clear, this is the authoritative source for information. I haven’t emailed you before because the school has to wait for the university’s lead.
I wanted to reach out to see if you had any questions, and make you aware of a few things:
- Next week is an extended break for the students, but busy for the staff and faculty. We will not only be adjusting dates and materials for course, but many faculty will have to move in-person classes online, and that will take work.
- The university guidance also means changes in scheduled events. The Deans and Directors lecture on April 3rd has been indefinitely postponed. This includes the award ceremony and the Beta Phi Mu installation. We are working on a new date for these, or alternatives.
- Right now hooding and graduation have not been effected, but the situation is “fluid.” As I learn something, you’ll hear it.
- Offices and administration remain open at the university. Some staff and faculty will be working from home, particularly if they are in a high-risk group such as immune compromised. Also folks traveling may have to self-quarantine.
- Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. If I don’t have answers, I’ll track some down.
And now a personal note. We got this. We as a school, as faculty, as students, as staff, we have this. We know how to work online sure, but more importantly, we know about using knowledge as an antidote to fear and misinformation. Some of you may find all of this an over-reaction. Some of you may have a heightened sense of anxiety in these uncertain times. I had a bone marrow transplant 18 months ago, so as someone who is immune compromised, I get it.
The answer is not to disconnect from community while we may shelter away physically. Some of our students are already working in libraries, all of them are being prepared to support communities. Right now what they’re feeling (anger, relief, anxiety, confusion) is being felt by the 3rd grader in a school library. It is felt by a spouse browsing the health books. It is felt by students in Thomas Cooper, or the person self-quarantined at home. Soon it will be their role to reach out to all of them. To let them know they are not alone. To provide what information we can, and all the compassion we have. In these times of conflicting stories the role of a librarian and an information scientist is to be trusted and caring.
I will send updates as I have them.
R. David Lankes
Professor and Director
School of Library and Information Science
College of Information and Communications
University of South Carolina