In response to delayed shipping times for books, librarians and professors have worked to get course materials to students both on and off campus through creative means — from digital resources to socially distanced drop-offs.
The University first faced restrictions to online resources when Yale closed down its libraries last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. With many students enrolling remotely and others quarantined on campus for the start of the semester, the Yale University Library and the Yale Bookstore have had to adapt. Kelly Blanchat, the undergraduate teaching and outreach librarian, wrote in an email to the News that she has “collaborated with professors on [online] library instruction sessions” and has suggested that “professors put class material on electronic reserve in Canvas to make access to library resources more equitable for all students.”
“The process of moving books and keeping track of them is a lot of work,” Blanchat said. “But in this pandemic environment, everyone is very eager to make things work. We understand that this is a really difficult time for students, and we want to help.”
To find textbooks on time, on-campus and off-campus students interviewed by the News said they have used a variety of websites to order materials. Iris Li ’24, who is studying remotely, had to pay $20 to ship a $90 course packet from Tyco to her home. While she has received the packet, her textbooks, which she ordered from Amazon Prime more than a week before classes started, have yet to arrive.
Ella Mainwaring Foster ’24, who lives in Timothy Dwight College, also ordered from Amazon and received her books just in time for the start of classes last week.
“In my language class specifically, I had a lot of trouble trying to obtain the necessary textbooks and workbooks I needed and the course packets … weren’t uploaded, but the teachers said that we needed them for the first couple days of school,” Foster said. “The instructions sometimes made it difficult to find out which [books] I needed because they either weren’t specific enough or they were very specific and I couldn’t find those in time to order them.”
Melissa Adams ’24, an on-campus student living in Silliman College, said that she primarily used the Yale Bookstore’s website to find the textbooks for her two foundational STEM classes. She picked them up at the shop on Broadway when she first arrived in New Haven, but she noticed that the Yale Bookstore had given her two copies of the same book and that she was placed on back order for another textbook. She has yet to receive all of her materials and said the first thing she will do once her arrival quarantine is up is return one of the two books.
“I think [that the] coronavirus has slowed stuff down because I’ve been trying to order stuff from libraries [through Borrow Direct],” Adams said. “I would be really worried right now if not for the fact that professors understand this so they’re giving us all of our readings online.”
Adams commented that she does not blame Yale for the mix-ups and delays, adding that “it’s just an unfortunate set of circumstances to be opening a college where people need a lot of books.”
Sarah Lerner, an archivist at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, said that she has been reaching out to professors to encourage them to upload readings online and make clear to students how they can request and receive books.
Adams, Foster and Li all said that professors and librarians have given students advice on how best they can find course materials.
“The professors are all super understanding and my head of college has been super helpful in saying that [there is] a two-week leeway period,” Li said. “I would say that [the administration] is doing their best to make it easier for all of us.”
The Yale Bookstore is located on 77 Broadway.