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Covid-19 impact on the Caribbean academic library: Jamaica's preliminary response to people, place, product and services

Sasekea Yoneka Harris (Science and Engineering Branch Library, The University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 9 February 2021

Issue publication date: 22 July 2021

Abstract

Purpose

This paper examined the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on people, place, product and services in Jamaican academic libraries. It also compares the Jamaican academic library’s COVID-19 experience with US academic library’s COVID-19 preliminary experience.

Design/methodology/approach

The local academic libraries in higher education in Jamaica (also referred to in this paper as university libraries) were surveyed.

Findings

Government mandates, university mandates and the absence of a vaccine influenced academic library response. The measures implemented, though unplanned and developed on-the-go, constituted a behavioural change model (BCM). COVID-19 has had a positive-negative impact on library people, place, product and services and has created a new normal for Jamaican academic libraries.

Research limitations/implications

This paper captures the preliminary response of Jamaican academic libraries to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on library people, place, product and services. As such, a follow-up survey on changes, challenges, strengths, impact, lessons and plans would be a useful complement to this paper. As COVID-19 information is rapidly evolving, this preliminary response of Jamaica is neither the final nor complete response to the pandemic.

Practical implications

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a gap in the literature on disaster management generally and pandemic management in particular, and on the management of health disasters in academic libraries; this paper seeks to fill this gap, albeit incrementally, through Jamaica's preliminary response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originality/value

This paper gives voice to the Caribbean academic library’s COVID-19 experience, through the voice of Jamaica. It is the first scholarly paper on the impact of COVID-19 on university libraries in the Jamaican / English-speaking Caribbean, and so presents the elements of the BCM implemented by Jamaica, which provides an important guide to Caribbean academic library leaders. The findings can also inform the Latin American and Caribbean section of international library papers on COVID-19 impact on academic libraries globally.

Keywords

Citation

Harris, S.Y. (2021), "Covid-19 impact on the Caribbean academic library: Jamaica's preliminary response to people, place, product and services", Library Management, Vol. 42 No. 6-7, pp. 340-361. https://doi.org/10.1108/LM-10-2020-0144

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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