The 2021 academic year started later than usual, with lectures beginning on the 15th of March.
The 2021 academic year started later than usual, with lectures beginning on the 15th of March. Lockdown Level 1 restrictions were enforced at the time, and so the Department of Library Services (DLS) announced that all campus libraries would be open during the week and on Saturdays to staff and students with permits to access campus. On the 29th of April, it was announced that Library patrons could collect Library books that they had placed on hold from the Roper Street entrance. This book collection service was made available from the 4th of May.
The MakerSpace maintained their steady stream of innovation by devising an add-on feature for the infrared thermometers that we are faced with upon entry of any premises these days. The add-on includes a distance sensor and LED indicators to ensure that infrared thermometers are placed at the correct distance for taking accurate temperatures. An article by Sean Kruger titled “Integrating the Internet of Things to Improve COVID-19 Screening” was published on the intranet at the beginning of May, announcing this fantastic work.
Following a national move to lockdown Level 2, the Library announced that Library services would be adjusted to safeguard the health of all staff and students while still providing proficient support for research, and teaching and learning on the 1st of June. Most libraries were still open from Monday to Saturday, with limited study spaces available in each library. Unfortunately, in the middle of June, infections were increasing and the country was placed on lockdown Level 3. Once again, the Library responded quickly, reducing the opening hours of the libraries somewhat, while maintaining all online services. On the 18th of June, the Medical Library, BMS/Dentistry Library, Klinikala Library, Witbank Health Library and the Weskoppies Library, were closed until further notice.
As the country moved into lockdown Level 4, the DLS announced that from the 1st of July, most libraries would only be open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 09:00 to 15:00 for limited services, such as the collection of books. Walk-ins were limited to enquiries at the circulation desk, and study spaces, research commons, study centres and computer areas (on all campuses) were closed until further notice. The book drop and collection services continued.
From the 23rd of August, with infection numbers dropping and the country moving to adjusted lockdown Level 3, Library services were once again adjusted, with all campus libraries once again open from Mondays to Fridays, and Saturdays with extended hours. Limited study spaces were also made available.
Throughout the year, patrons have been informed about, and encouraged to use, the DLS’s online and digitisation services. In 2021 so far, our Digi Office has digitised 34 141 pages for users! Information was also posted regarding the availability of ebooks, and reminding users that hardcopy books can be placed on hold.
Health and safety protocols remain in place in all our libraries, with social distancing and the wearing of masks remaining mandatory. The DLS is committed to ensuring the safety of staff and students while continuing to provide the services that our community needs.