Libraries staying very busy, even though they’re closed

The 10 libraries on Pitt’s Oakland campus and those at the regional campuses have been closed since March 20, but that doesn’t mean the librarians aren’t busy.

At the April 23 University Senate Library committee meeting, Barbara Epstein, director of Pitt’s Health Sciences Library System, said that while a couple members of her staff remain on site at Falk Library in Scaife Hall, most are working remotely.

Since March 23, HSLS has handled 711 requests for materials, and provided 818 articles to the Pitt community, and 1,902 articles to libraries around the country.

They’ve conducted 27 virtual workshops with nearly 500 attendees. Epstein said that workshops that normally have 15 to 20 attendees, now have 30 to 35. Department chairs have told her that the online meetings are much more convenient for them, even if an in-person option was available.

Epstein said the Health Sciences Library System has 52 virtual workshops planned during the summer months.

University Library System

From March 15 to April 26, the University Library System staff also were quite busy, according to statistics from Berenika Webster, director of Assessment and Quality Assurance. The staff members:

  • Conducted 1,489 reference transactions (answering questions ranging from information about access to materials, help with student assignments, to in-depth research consultations).

  • Received nearly 2,000 requests for print materials (either held at ULS or elsewhere) from Pitt community. Most of these requests required scanning of physical materials at ULS or loan requests from other libraries.

  • Received more than 1,800 requests for ULS-held materials from other institutions worldwide.  All requests for print materials required scanning.

  • Bought access to more than 150 e-books or streaming media to fulfill urgent in support of teaching and research.   

  • Conducted 18 online workshops and classes for Pitt students, staff and faculty attended by more than 500 participants. 

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.


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