Except for my commute, everything is the same: the shared lived experience of health sciences libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic





Libraries, medical, health sciences librarians, COVID-19


Objective: To understand the experience of academic health sciences libraries during the pandemic using a phenomenological approach.

Methods: This study used a multisite, mixed-method approach to capture the direct experience of academic health sciences libraries as they evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase one of the study involved administering a qualitative survey to capture to capture current evolutions of programs and services. The survey for phases two (August 2020) and three (February 2021) contained eight questions asking participants to share updates on their evolution and experiences.

Results: Qualitative data were analyzed using open coding techniques to ensure emergent themes were allowed to surface. Additional post-hoc sentiment analysis ascertained the frequency of positive and negative words in each data set. Of the 193 possible AAHSL libraries, 45 (23.3%) responded to the April 2020 survey, 26 to the August 2020 survey, and 16 to the February 2021 survey. Libraries represented 23 states and the District of Columbia. The majority of libraries closed in March 2020. The ease of transferring library services to a remote environment varied by type of service. For the quantitative analysis, ten distinct areas were analyzed using text coded as “Staff” as a lens for understanding the connection between codes.

Conclusion: Innovations by libraries during the early stages of the pandemic are having a long-term impact on library culture and the delivery of services. Even as libraries returned to in-person services, elements of telecommuting,

Author Biography

Bart Ragon, University of Virginia

Associate Director for Knowledge Integration, Research, and Technology


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Original Investigation