21 Feb 2022

New Maynooth University Library Service is born during Covid-19 Pandemic,

Guest post by Bridie O’Neillcurrently working with Maynooth University John Paul II Library as a Library Assistant. 1st Year student with University of Ulster (Master in Library Information Management). 

Like all other libraries both academic and public, Maynooth University closed its doors in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

This blog explores the new click and collect service devised to assist both Academic staff and students at Maynooth University (MU) Library. This service allows access to books on the library shelves when visiting in-person was not an option. As with other Libraries, Maynooth had to implement new digital services overnight. Social Media played a key role in advertising the new services available. The Library homepage  was updated daily to reflect the fast-paced changes occurring both in restrictions and online services.

Preparing essential and accessible technology for both staff and students was vital. Our (72) laptops which had been for in-house use only, were loaned to both students and staff. This was accomplished in collaboration with the Maynooth Access Programme (MAP), laptops were delivered to students at home.  Being able to access both our catalogue and electronic books entailed connecting to our server via our ‘Off – campus link’ for both students and staff which connects  differently than when used on campus.  

Library staff, some of whom were on site, while others were working from home dealt with a lot of queries about off-campus access via the chat function on the library website, email, and by telephone. The complexities from equipment set-up, broadband speeds to browsers used all played a part. As the title indicates “Click & Collect” is a service where a user, having searched the library catalogue to ascertain if a book is available in physical or electronic format, can request the physical copy if no e-book is available.  The user submits a request for a book in stock and includes the title and author of the book and most importantly the classification number for ease of retrieval by library staff. Staff receive click and collect request electronically via Lib-Answers which is linked directly from our webpage. The details of the click and collect request are checked. E.g., has the library user completed all required fields, are they indeed a current member of staff or a student? The book is then located by library staff from the library shelves and issued to the requestor’s account. This is not always straightforward as restrictions apply to the limit of books that a library user can borrow at any given time an e.g., short loan books can only be borrowed for xxx days, making them unsuitable for click and collect. Once the book is registered to the borrower’s account an email is sent to them stating the date and time for collection. We were able to streamline the service with standard reply emails informing the library user if the request has been successful or in some cases unsuccessful. Why not? Sometimes books are no longer available in our library catalogue, and they need to be requested via an Inter library loan (this again recommended the use of e-books or scanning up to one chapter.). Books could also be out on loan, lost or not present in the library at the time the Click and Collect request was submitted. We had specific times allocated for collection assisted our security team who facilitated access to the library.


The service has been highly successful and well received by both students and staff with a 50/50 split take up. The graph below displays the usage of this service over a 16-month period.

Statistical analysis of click and collect – compiled by Bridie O’Neill

On a personal note, continuing to communicate with both students and staff gave a normality to an exceedingly difficult situation. The camaraderie with other staff in our combined efforts to not only meet but exceed our users’ expectations was a rewarding unexpected well-being bonus.

Click & collect books ready for collection in Maynooth Library Foyer © Emma Boyce MU Library

The service has proved invaluable with feedback received via our poll survey. An example of such feedback is the following: How would you rate the service - “Excellent” and do you want the service to continue? “Yes, please.” At the peak we receive up to 80 click and collects requests in a normal 9 am – 5 pm working day. We welcome our library users' feedback and Click and Collect was born out of necessity and has become a popular new library service.

What Next?

In conclusion Click & Collect has proven to be an invaluable service and we have received numerous requests to continue this service now that the doors to the library have reopened.  The click and collects success has raised the question how we can improve this service further?   A parcel motel approach is being investigated to allow click and collect books to be left in the Library foyer in coded lockers for users to collect at times convenient to them.


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