COVID-19, Australia's academic library service, response, and strategies: Learning from the experience of Monash University Library in Melbourne

Jung-Sim Kim, Anita Dewi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Australia began to feel the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in late January 2020, and it has since greatly affected university operations, including that of Monash University, whose campuses are situated in Melbourne, the capital city of the State of Victoria.

Orientation Week activities that were initially planned to take place in the last week of February had to be cancelled, and Week 1 of the first semester was also delayed. Since then, all classes have been moved online, and seminars and library classes that were scheduled for the year were postponed or cancelled. Australia-wide, the Prime Minister announced further restrictions on social movements and workplaces in response to COVID-19 on 29 March. This was reinforced with further details in the Premier of Victoria State’s address on 30 March.
Australians were advised by the government tofollow good hygiene practices for COVID-19. This includes: 1) wash your hands regularly; 2) avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; 3) cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or cough into your elbow; 4) maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from other people; 5) 14-day quarantine period if have returned from overseas, been in Victoria, visited a high-risk NSW venue and had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case; and 6) follow the instructions of COVID-Safe guidelines.

Since then, institutions have also been implementing measures to maintain social distancing. In the context of Monash, the University established a regularly updated, centralised COVID-19 web page for employees and stakeholders to refer to. University operations were reduced to essential services. Classes completely moved online. Of the six University library branches, only Matheson and Peninsula libraries remained open with reduced hours of 9am-5pm. The buildings functioned merely as study spaces for staff and students, with compulsory social distancing practices in place. The majority of staff were instructed to work from home, and supplied with office’s laptop, monitor, and other relevant equipment to set up sufficient safe home offices.

COVID-19 restrictions were loosened from Stage 3 to Stage 2 during June. However, the situation worsened in the State of Victoria and Stage 3 was reimposed on 7 July for 6 weeks. People could only leave home for four reasons: 1) to shop for food and necessary goods and services; 2) to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment; 3) to exercise or for outdoor recreation; and 4) for work or education, when cannot be done from home. As the situation did not improve, the State Government of Victoria strengthened restrictions to Stage 4 on 2 August for the Metropolitan Melbourne areas. Residents are now expected to stay home as much as possible, with an 8pm-5am curfew in place. They can leave for the above four reasons, but only within a 5 km radius distance of their homes. Those travelling to work need to obtain official work permits from their employers. Stage 4 is to be in place until at least 13 September.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-150
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Overseas Korean Studies Libraries
Volume21
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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