By: Nursyafinaz Mohd Noh
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (also famously known as KJ) in early September, told a press conference that Malaysia is expected to move from Covid-19 pandemic into the endemic phase by the end of October 2021. He also added that even though the country has managed to control the coronavirus, the community needs to accept the fact to "live with the virus".
The term endemic refers to "the occurrence of a constant presence of a disease or infectious agent in a particular area or district at a low and stable rate", (Bernama, 2021). When the pandemic first hit Malaysia, the whole nation was in a state of fear and tumult. But after some time, people started to adapt and the new norms were introduced. While some companies faced major losses and even had to shut down their operation, to some other businesses, the pandemic brought much favor to them. Amazon, for example, was reported to gain triple profits during the pandemic.
In the higher education sector and academic libraries to be specific, the biggest negative impacts of pandemic can be seen by the number of new students enrolled, low usage of digital resources and collections, and also funding cuts (Connell, Wallis & Comeaux, 2021). The librarians were instructed to work remotely from home which later raised some issues like limited access to stable internet, plenty of distractions, blurred work-life balance and lower productivity.
The pandemic has forced everybody in the sector to rely solely on remote tools and online technologies in order to get everything done. This however becomes an opportunity for librarians to truly implement agile and hybrid working, and brings positive changes to service delivery and ways of working. Despite being closed to the public/users; the library services were still delivered online through digital access while meetings and consultations were carried out through various online platforms such as Zoom, Webex, Google Meet and others. According to Martzoukou (2021), the academic libraries have been supporting and serve as forefront of the Universities by providing “flexible online learning resources, online services and training, positioning librarians to take on a leading role in supporting students and staff to develop information and digital literacy skills via online courses, tutorials, workshops and e-consultations.”
Nevertheless, from pandemic to endemic, this raises a new question; whether the library should revert to the “normality” where services and processes are conducted in the old ways, or should the library utilize the dexterity acquired during the pandemic and invent new ways.
Bernama (2021, September 1). Malaysia to move to Covid-19 endemic in October: Khairy. The Sun Daily. Retrieved from https://www.thesundaily.my/home/malaysia-to-move-to-covid-19-endemic-in-october-khairy-DK8279027
Connell, R. S., Wallis, L. C. & Comeaux, D. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on the use of academic library resources. Information Technology & Libraries.
Martzoukou, K. (2021). Academic libraries in COVID-19: a renewed mission for digital literacy. Library Management, 42 (4/5). https://doi.org/10.1108/LM-09-2020-0131.
Ramsay, S. (2020). Let’s not return to business as usual: Integrating environmental and social wellbeing through hybrid business models post COVID-19. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872820944996
Tarikh Input: 21/02/2022 | Kemaskini: 21/02/2022 | khairul_zul
Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan.