A day in the reader's life in quarantine - library inspirations

Patryk Wesołowski

Remote tools in the library

Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on society, institutions and businesses. How to find yourself in all of this? How to function normally in the new, difficult reality? Libraries, and even library software producers, must also answer these questions.

Imagine an example “remote day” in a house.

Usually the day starts with remote study and work. With a family of five, there may be a problem with the access to the computer. Fortunately, there is also a tablet. My doughter needs to read “The Crimean Sonnets” by Adam Mickiewicz. Sadly, we do not have this item in the home library. I fire up the INTEGRO catalog in my library. Responsive interface compliant with WCAG 2.1 requirements, so even on a small tablet, everything displays well and works. The library has a catalog with the Central Index, and in it I can see access to Free Reading, a quick inquiry and I have it! The full text of Mickiewicz’s work is available for download in five formats and soon … I also see the audiobook. Everything for free – great! One topic settled.

The second daughter collects material about the sociology of education. I advise her to also check the INTEGRO catalog in our library. Hit position, the facet points to a book on the IBUK Libra website. My child browses the available table of contents for this publication, everything is on the topic. But how do I get to the content of this book? Fortunately, the library had already given me access and PIN to this service. I give my daughter the account and she can start learning.

During this time, the wife took up her tasks for postgraduate studies. Fortunately, the university library cares about modern solutions. From the INTEGRO catalog, it searches the EDS EBSCO databases and access to specialized texts from scientific articles is wide open. The authorization issues are handled by the HAN server, so only authorized persons have access to the content. Some of the materials are not in the university library, but the wife has access to the Interlibrary Loan Facility (RWM) from the INTEGRO catalog. Fortunately, this library agenda is very active. After completing the form from the account level in the INTEGRO catalog, the wife receives a notification that the relevant materials will be ordered from the library of another university and made available as a scan. In such a situation, all she needs is a little patience and everything will be on her computer.

The youngest daughter confessed that she once withheld the books and that her library account is debited (she has a fee). It is true that the library does not charge fees now, but the penalty is already payable. Fortunately, you can regulate everything remotely via PayU and not explain yourself to anyone. It would be nice to borrow something now, but unfortunately a virus … Wait! The library has started disinfecting the library collections and you can order documents for the book-o-mat. After paying the fees by PayU – BLIK, I order three books for my daughter, to collect them from book-o-mat. I will pick it up during the evening walk with the dog. I’ll handle everything contactlessly with a library card, but I’ll take the gloves … We’ll have to close the hiding place.

Okay, now you have got to do your job. I am collecting materials for my new book. The problem is that all devices are occupied, even a tablet… Wait, there’s still a smartphone. I recently found out that a group of libraries has the mProlib mobile application. I did a search on Google Play and downloaded the phone app for free. A while of browsing and they see a whole lot of interesting materials, books, magazines. But how to use it? Wait … I can see that you can sign up to the library via the ePUAP trusted profile. I already have a profile so it went smoothly. I am signed up and authenticated now, I can take full advantage of all library services. Well, almost, because I won’t visit the place personally now because of the virus. I search their resources, I use faceting and filtering the result. I save the bibliographic list on my e-shelf. I send the second statements directly to my colleague’s mailbox. Let him see, it should interest him. He can also sign up. I can see that the library has the ability to place reprographic orders. This is something for me! I fill out a simple order form for a scan of the previously indicated article and send it. After a while, I get a notification that today I will be able to download a scan with the text directly from my account. Needless to say, they care about the reader from the other end of Poland. Oh… and one more interesting book. Over 500 pages. It would be nice to borrow it, because I’m interested in the whole thing … Wait, it’s possible to borrow it remotely with home delivery. Cool! I entered the shipping address. Now, PayU transfer for the shipment and in two days the book will be at home. Of course, previously disinfected by the library …

The situations described above were imagined, but the tools and what can be offered to the library reader.

The environment that uses the PROLIB system is as real and functional as possible. The exception is the topic of disinfection of library materials, which I have not heard about on a larger scale in Poland, but will probably appear. I was inspired by the library in Guangzhou (China), where book disinfection has been used for years.


Despite the hard and difficult times, the library can continue to function effectively. It is not easy, but a modern system, additional tools and functionalities can efficiently support the librarian in handling the reader. Eventually everything will return to normal, but the new solutions will stay and expand the offer of every modern library to the satisfaction of readers.


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