By Aspasia Luster, Bettina Askew, Maranda Christy, Ali Gomez, Josette Kubicki, Shafer Tharrington, Lachelle Smith
At the end of every spring and fall semester, the Augusta University (AU) Libraries are busy providing free food, coffee, and relaxing activities to students preparing for exams. With both of our libraries, Greenblatt Library on the Health Sciences campus and Reese Library on the Summerville campus, closed for COVID-19, we were keen to find creative solutions to help students unwind and relax during these stressful times. This year we hosted a “Virtual Finals Frenzy” (April 27-May 8) by consistently posting on our social media, which pointed to a complementary online Library Guide (LibGuide). This virtual programming included photos of the libraries’ personnel cooking during quarantine, a relaxing “Zen Zone”, and library pet therapy (always a favorite!). Besides our social media posts, our LibGuide collected resources on at- home exercise and study skills for online learning to help our students get through the weirdest finals of their lives with lower stress levels and, hopefully, some smiles.
Since we were unable to offer our usual medley of nachos, pizza, assorted snacks, coffee, and tea, we converted our in-person culinary delights into a staff cooking challenge (using the libraries’ e-cookbook collection). We also featured bread and lentil soup cooking videos graciously provided by one of our university faculty members. For the Cafe section of the LibGuide we provided links to quarantine cooking themed videos on YouTube, links to resources on food facts and healthy eating, and links to popular cooking shows.
Recognizing that many students are, like us, cooped up inside without regular access to physical exercise and missing the communities offered to them by their regular gyms and fitness studios, we collected resources to help fill that void. We found local yoga studios and Zumba instructors live-streaming classes by tapping into our connections and by conducting web searches. Examples include the Georgia Aquarium’s Yoga by the Water series and the university’s campus recreation. For students who couldn’t attend live-streaming sessions, we also collected YouTube channels with at-home workouts for individuals of all ability and fitness levels.
Traditionally, each library provides a space for students to escape and unwind during finals time. Such spaces include jigsaw and word puzzles, coloring sheets and bookmarks, origami, scrap paper for drawing, board games, and relaxing YouTube videos quietly playing in the background. We united our spaces in the webiverse by having a “Zen Zone” section in the LibGuide. It includes links to virtual coloring sites and apps, puzzles and games sites, and soothing background music. This semester, we expanded the Zen Zone to include links to self-care strategies, mindfulness and meditation exercises, and ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos. We sourced links from tried and tested recommendations from colleagues and by searching for open content from reputable sites.
We know that managing stress is crucial to thriving during finals. Since therapy dogs could not physically come to each of the (AU) Libraries, our libraries’ community decided to virtually share their fur-ever friends for students to enjoy and reduce the stress of finals. For the Pet Therapy section of the LibGuide, we uploaded photos of some AU Libraries adorable fur-ever friends, along with a description of each pet that was submitted with the photo.
While we live in a modern technological age where we rely upon the use of computers and online-based learning, it is often tricky when classes completely shift to an online-only course. Therefore, we collected several resources that assist students in this transition to fully online courses. There are multiple links to Augusta University’s Writing Center, the Math Assistance Center, and our Academic Success Center. Similarly, we collected several YouTube videos that aim to assist the students with focusing and staying motivated, which can be very hard when suddenly required to be in front of a computer more than usual. Also, the University System of Georgia (USG) debuts its Keep Learning USG online webpage to support students with different checklists and resources to stay on top of their schoolwork.
Intrigued? You can visit the Augusta University’s LibGuide at https://guides.augusta.edu/VirtualFinalsFrenzy/home