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The provision of patron services in Chinese academic libraries responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Yajun Guo (School of Information Management, Zhengzhou University of Aeronautics, Zhengzhou, China)
Zinan Yang (School of Information Management, Zhengzhou University of Aeronautics, Zhengzhou, China)
Zhishun Yang (School of Information Management, Zhengzhou University of Aeronautics, Zhengzhou, China)
Yan Quan Liu (Department of Information and Library Science, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Arlene Bielefield (Department of Information and Library Science, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Gregory Tharp (Department of Information and Library Science, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 24 July 2020

Issue publication date: 21 June 2021

2506

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify the measures employed in the provision of patron services in Chinese academic libraries responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the challenges and issues inherent in providing substantial services while undergoing a public health emergency.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses an analytical survey study of 137 Chinese academic libraries using data collected through a combination of website investigation, social media access and direct correspondences.

Findings

Over 94% of Chinese academic libraries released COVID-19-related information through their websites; the majority switched their service focus to partly or solely remotely online, including remote access, free electronic resources, virtual references reachable 24/7 and research support services deliverable online; services of print materials were altered to e-books for conveniences.

Research limitations/implications

It should be noted that the survey was conducted from February 12 to April 5, 2020; because of the rapid updates to the library's website and social media channels, the status of their patron services are in the process of dynamic changes and that there should be many libraries that have adopted some patron service methods, but this study is difficult to cover comprehensively. In addition, patron services carried out offline by the surveyed libraries but not disclosed on the online platform could not be analyzed in a way that would be consistent with the data provided by the survey.

Originality/value

By providing evidence of the current status of patron services in Chinese academic libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study helps fulfill the scant empirical attention given to the impact of nationwide public health crises on academic libraries and offers new data of the best practices that help library administrators enhance the impact, efficiency and value of library services to their target community users.

Keywords

Citation

Guo, Y., Yang, Z., Yang, Z., Liu, Y.Q., Bielefield, A. and Tharp, G. (2021), "The provision of patron services in Chinese academic libraries responding to the COVID-19 pandemic", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 533-548. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-04-2020-0098

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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