In March 2020, as institutions of all types began to shut down in response to the COVID pandemic, colleges and universities quickly modified their operations to be able to continue teaching and research activities. At over 80% of the institutions represented in the survey, some form of hybrid learning model was in place, with courses offered both in-person and online during the 2020-2021 academic year, though often the in-person courses met for very specific reasons—clinical education, labs, art classes. Only 5% reported that classes were “remote only, in real time.”
Most libraries continued to offer services in some way, with over a third reporting that the main campus library was “physically open, with most services operational” and another third reporting being physically open, with limited services. Less than 10% reported being “physically closed” while still offering online services. Over 15% stated some “other” modality, often illustrating the careful thinking involved in providing services to those who needed them. (For example, “Mostly physically closed except one study space to provide those with exceptional needs access to internet, computers, and for staff to provide curbside pickup and digitization services.”) One librarian’s response characterized the unpredictability of the year, describing their status as “It depends, we keep moving in and out of lockdown.”
This rapid shift to an online environment underlined the importance of having materials available online. Over 85% of respondents reported that by Fall 2020 faculty demand for e-resources, whether subscription or OA, was either much greater (45%) or somewhat greater (43%) than in other years. By contrast, librarian perceptions were that faculty demand for “open and free (open access articles, open educational resources, other freely available learning materials)” had not increased as dramatically, with only around 60% reporting increased demand, and the majority of these stating that it was only some-what greater than in other years.