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Hewes Library’s motto during pandemic: ‘Nobody left behind’

Barry McNamara
04/23/2020
Hewes Library Director Sarah Henderson
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – This year’s National Library Week was a reminder to Monmouth College Hewes Library Director Sarah Henderson of the vital role libraries play in good times and during a crisis.

“We want to let people know we’re here to help,” she said. “We’ve never left. I’m happy to say that almost all of our services have continued despite the changes we’ve made due to social distancing.”

Hewes Library was last open as normal on March 18 before closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Monmouth students and faculty have been engaged in remote learning since March 23. Henderson and her staff have remained hard at work, providing essential research materials and assistance to students and faculty.

“Despite the fact that we are working remotely from home, our services have not stopped,” she said. “If anything, they have only expanded due to the content that vendors have provided for free during this time of crisis. I’m telling people, ‘Do research! Take advantage of this!’ It’s unbelievable the amount of free access we have right now because of the current situation.”

Henderson said the Hewes Library staff has continued to remain “nimble,” adjusting schedules and formats as needed to meet shifting demands of students and faculty. Of course, they would rather provide services face-to-face, but the library team is committed to making sure that everyone has access.

“We miss helping people here in the library and being together,” she said. “But we can still be here for everybody, even those without access to the internet. We can still get them the access they need. Our motto is ‘Nobody left behind.’”

To that end, help from Hewes Library is just a phone call away. Henderson or her staff can be reached at 309-457-2190, by text at 309-204-9275, and by email at ILL@monmouthcollege.edu.

“We have a chat line available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with times in the evening from 7 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays,” she said.

Library staff are also available for some special assignments.

“We can get into the library if we need to,” said Henderson. “We can go in and get that book that someone might need, or scan a chapter for them – things like that.”

National Library Week spans April 19-25. Henderson called it “our opportunity to celebrate libraries and everything wonderful, creative and magical about them.” She called this year’s celebration “bittersweet.”

“It’s bittersweet because we are apart, each working remotely from home,” she said. “But our staff has been able to quickly respond to all of our changes during this time without any interruption to service, whether it’s been providing access to resources, class instruction, research assistance, or being a listening ear for our students.”

To those students, Henderson offered an encouraging word.

“We miss them, we can’t wait to see them and we’re cheering them on,” she said.