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The coronavirus pandemic in the Caribbean academic library: Jamaica's initial interpretation of strengths, biggest impact, lessons and plans

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

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 16 February 2021

Issue publication date: 22 July 2021



This paper examined the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic (known as COVID-19) on Jamaican academic libraries, during the first six months, with an emphasis on revealed library strengths, biggest impact, lessons learned and plans for library business continuity.


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


The coronavirus pandemic revealed strengths in the areas of staffing and library modality and had the biggest impact on the latter. Lessons were learned in preparedness, communication, documentation, collaboration, staffing, library modality, and infrastructure/systems, which together shaped plans for library business re-opening/continuity.

Research limitations/implications

This paper captures the initial response of Jamaican Academic Libraries (JAL) to the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, and the preliminary initial response of Jamaica is neither the final nor complete response to the pandemic. As such, a follow-up survey of months 7–12 would be useful. Also, a survey of all English-speaking Caribbean academic libraries would be of value to library evidence and practice.

Practical implications

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a gap in the literature on library disaster management in general but also specifically on pandemic preparedness and management, and library business continuity during a pandemic. Using JAL' response, this paper proposes: “A Pandemic Preparedness Business Continuity Planning Checklist for Jamaican Academic Libraries”, which can be adopted/adapted in other Caribbean/developing country academic libraries, as well as other library types in Jamaica, which currently look to the understudied university libraries for leadership.


This paper is the first scholarly paper on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on university libraries in the Jamaican / English-speaking Caribbean, with a focus on revealed strengths, biggest impact, lessons learned, plans for library business re-opening/continuity. As the scholarly literature on pandemic management in Caribbean academic libraries is non-existent, this paper seeks to fill this gap, albeit incrementally. Additionally, the findings can inform the Latin America and Caribbean section of international library papers on COVID-19 impact on academic libraries globally.



Harris, S.Y. (2021), "The coronavirus pandemic in the Caribbean academic library: Jamaica's initial interpretation of strengths, biggest impact, lessons and plans", Library Management, Vol. 42 No. 6/7, pp. 362-375.



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