COVID-19

Don’t pump up the volume: TU audiology expert offers insight on healthy hearing during the pandemic and beyond

The COVID-19 crisis has spawned new health-focused behaviors across the country: repeated hand-washing, standing 6 feet apart at the post office, waving at grandmothers from outside their retirement residences, keeping a cloth mask in the glove compartment in readiness for grocery expeditions. These sanitary practices are all meant to curtail the spread of a potentially deadly virus. But what about other aspects of our health during this pandemic era?

Professor Julie Hyland smiling and wearing a purple cardiganJulie Hyland, AuD, is a clinical associate professor in The University of Tulsa’s Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders and an audiologist with the Mary K. Chapman Speech & Hearing Clinic. One of Hyland’s concerns during the pandemic is that many people are unaware of the risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

“The only 100% preventable cause of permanent, sensorineural hearing loss is NIHL,” Hyland explained. During the current health crisis, she noted, many people are spending more hours than usual using portable media devices with headphones and earbuds for remote work and schooling purposes. That is on top of using them for entertainment.

Two "rules of thumb" to help protect your hearingAccording to Hyland, this new normal presents some serious risks: “In a family comprising, for example, parents working from home and children learning at home, there’s going to be a lot of noise. The natural tendency in such a situation would be for everyone to pump up the volume on their individual devices in order to hear over all the background noise. But that increased duration of exposure to higher volumes amplifies the risk of acquiring NIHL.”

Noise intensity + duration of exposure

This pandemic-intensified risk is set within the already high rates of NIHL in the United States, Hyland pointed out. A 2011-12 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that at least 10 million adults in the United States under age 70 (6% of the population), and perhaps as many as 40 million (24%), indicated in their hearing tests the possibility of hearing loss in one or both ears from exposure to loud noise. Researchers have also estimated that as many as 17% of teens are similarly affected.

The two primary factors to consider when it comes to hearing conservation and prevention of NIHL are the intensity of noise – measured in decibels (dB) – and the duration of exposure to it.

Graphic illustrating various sounds and their decibel readingsThe average conversational speech is around 60 to 70 dB. Noise levels of 85 dB or higher – such as from a leaf blower, chainsaw, gunshot, ambulance siren – have the potential to damage one’s auditory system if the duration of exposure is sufficient. Even a hair dryer has the potential to hurt one’s hearing. A typical hair dryer runs at about 91 dB, which does not become a problem if exposure is under two hours. “You are unlikely to run your hair dryer for two hours at home,” noted Hyland. “But a stylist working in a salon might be exposed to hair dryers for much longer than that over the course of a typical shift.”

Protect your hearing

For her patients and everyone else, Hyland offers the following advice to guard against hearing loss:

  1. Keep the volume of your devices – and your children’s – set no higher than about 60% of the maximum.
  2. Take breaks. For example, it’s okay to listen to music while working at your computer, but don’t do so for longer than about 30 minutes. Then, turn the music off and get up to stretch for 10 minutes.
  3. Use hearing protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs, when engaging in loud activities, such as mowing the lawn, attending concerts and woodworking.
  4. See an audiologist for a full hearing evaluation if you experience signs of NIHL. Such signs include increased difficulty understanding speech in noisy listening conditions or tinnitus, which is a ringing, buzzing or roaring sound in the ears or head.

For parents, Hyland has some additional specific counsel: “You might think that if you can hear the sound coming from your child’s earbuds, then the volume is set too high. But that’s actually more indicative of how well the device is sealing off the ear canal. A really tight seal might mean you can’t hear anything, but the intensity levels might well be damaging your child’s hearing.”


Audiology is an important element in training to be a speech-language pathologist at TU. Graduate students in TU’s speech-language pathology program learn best practices for screening their clients’ hearing. Undergraduate students in Hyland’s audiology courses learn methods of evaluating and treating hearing loss as well as how hearing loss impacts communication and quality of life. Consider joining this dynamic and growing field by applying today.

 

COVID-19 Special Report Two: Media with Benjamin Peters

 

In the second remotely-recorded special report from the University of Tulsa, Benjamin Peters joins the TUniverse podcast team to share his thoughts on the pandemic’s relation to the media, including ideas for thinking about how the two relate and what it means for us.

Links: https://faculty.utulsa.edu/faculty/ben-peters/

Research reveals improved air ventilation fights COVID-19

Cities and states across the nation are lifting safer-at-home orders, and businesses are taking extra precautions to prepare for the return of customers but cleaning high-contact surfaces and maintaining safe social distance is only the start. Findings by Richard Shaughnessy, director of The University of Tulsa’s Indoor Air Program, show that improving air quality through enhanced ventilation and filtration can decrease the advancement of harmful bacteria and viruses, like COVID-19. “We’re trying to get simple, useful, practical information to the public that they can use now,” he said. 

ventilation
Richard Shaughnessy

Clean air is key

According to Shaughnessy, the virus can be transmitted through both human contact and aerosol transmission. “This virus can survive on smaller aerosols (less than 5 microns in size) in the air for three to four hours, and on surfaces, depending upon the surface, for two to three days,” Shaughnessy explained. If ever there was a time in history for improved indoor air quality, it would be now,” Shaughnessy stated. 

After being confined at home for weeks, residents are ready to shop, visit salons, see movies and eat at local restaurants. “There is an immediate need to identify what businesses can do to supplement social distancing measures, such as improving indoor air quality,” Shaughnessy explained. “These practices go hand-in-hand with other effective approaches such as the cleaning/disinfecting of high-contact surfaces.” 

When fighting viruses and bacteria, few businesses consider cleaning the air in their buildingsadding supplemental filtration or upgrading the filtration system they already have establishedAll air cleaning requires is making sure that your filters are in place,” Shaughnessy said. “If you have a heating or cooling system, make sure your filters are adequate. Use the highest efficiency filters you can, but remember you only have fresh air filtering through the mechanical system when the system is running.” 

For more than 25 years, Shaughnessy’s research has focused on indoor environmental concerns. In the past decade, he has specifically investigated whether illnesses are more easily transmitted because of inadequate ventilation or air filtration. Shaughnessy and his team have conducted testing in commercial businesses, homes and densely occupied environments such as schools and hospitals. 

ventilation

Constant ventilation to remove human aerosols

If you’re relying on your heating and cooling systemyou turn it on, and it moderates as a function of temperature. You want to put that fan on, so it runs 24/7. Otherwise, the system may run only 18% of the day and you’re getting little filtration during that time,” he said. 

The virus also can be harbored on particles that fall out of the air onto floor surfaces, and Shaughnessy explained that if someone is shedding the virus, tens of thousands of particles from skin can dissipate to the floor. As people step across the floor, the particles are resuspended back into the air where they may be breathed in. 

“People do not have to buy gallons of bleach to chlorinate everywhere, which can be extremely hazardous to their health,” Shaughnessy said. “The thing to remember when cleaning surfaces is the virus is very susceptible to common disinfectants, soap and water. This thing isn’t that hard to inactivate and to kill.” 

Facts based on science and research

Shaughnessy has shared his expertise across the country and internationally on studies related to COVID-19. More recently, he has provided webinars for more than 2400 researchers and practitioners from state and federal agencies in 40 different countries. He has spoken with media about mitigation and best practices in order to lessen the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

“Now is not the time to let down our guard. There is no overnight cure or fix for this virus, just common sense,” Shaughnessy said. “These issues I am bringing up are based on science and research we’ve been doing for years. Let’s accept the virus for what it is and let’s take steps to make it safer — not only to protect workers but also to protect customers.”

Entrepreneurs in Crisis: COVID-19 and Beyond

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Start Us Up found in recent polling data that the majority of entrepreneurs are disillusioned with policy makers.

The survey examines the opinions of current entrepreneurs, wantrapreneurs, and general election voters. 

https://www.startusupnow.org/entrepreneurship-data

This blog is a project of the NOVA Fellowship at TU.  www.novafellowship.org

 

The NOVA Fellowship at The University of Tulsa (TU) has a mission to build and support the culture of innovation on campus and in our communities. We do this by providing small grants to help innovative student projects, faculty involved in innovative programs, and curating content related to current trends and recent developments in technology and innovation. This content includes topics relevant to the entire campus, including health sciences, economics, arts management, biology, computer science, finance, artificial intelligence (AI), communication, engineering, and global issues. Because NOVA students are studying in a variety of TU majors, our interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving is one of our great strengths.

NOVA also helps provide training to students and faculty in creativity, problem-solving, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We offer training on the TU campus in meetings and workshops, and through an exciting partnership with Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Every year since 2015, NOVA has sent several TU students and faculty to Stanford for 4-5 days of training with experts and interaction with fellow scholars from around the world. The student program is University Innovation Fellows (www.universityinnovationfellows.org) and the program for faculty is the Teaching and Learning Studio Faculty Workshop (http://universityinnovationfellows.org/teachingandlearningstudio/).

In these ways, NOVA exposes TU faculty, staff, and students to many processes and tools used in modern companies related to creativity, problem-solving, innovation, and entrepreneurship. One of these is “design thinking.” It is one of the most well-known problem-solving approaches used around the world today, used to develop concepts for new products, education, buildings, machines, toys, healthcare services, social enterprises, and more. According to the people who developed this tool, Dave Kelley and Tim Brown of the design firm, IDEO:

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success…. Thinking like a designer can transform the way organizations develop products, services, processes, and strategy. This approach, which IDEO calls design thinking, brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It also allows people who aren’t trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges.” (https://www.ideou.com/pages/design-thinking)

As the innovation field develops, new perspectives are emerging. One promising approach we are beginning to bring into NOVA meetings and workshops is called “systems thinking,” which builds upon the emergent field of complexity research. Systems thinking recognizes the inherent interactivity of the dynamic processes in our world and focuses on problem-solving with that complexity in mind. This approach isn’t completely new, but recent work has made systems thinking more accessible to people interested in solving problems of most any type. For example, Derek Cabrera, Ph.D. (Cornell University) has proposed a useful taxonomy designed to improve systems thinking called DSRP (Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives). He defines it as: “The recursive distinguishing of things and their interrelationships and part-whole organization from various perspectives” (https://blog.cabreraresearch.org/what-is-a-system-what-is-systems-thinking). Elsewhere, DSRP has been described as a particular way to think about problems, and that the use of these four patterns notably improves people’s problem-solving abilities – demonstrated in sessions with Kindergartners all the way to CEOs. The complex, adaptive mental models that are formed during systems thinking attempt to identify the most approachable and simplest explanations for phenomena. In his book with Laura Cabrera, Systems Thinking Made Simple, examples of the simplicity that drives complexity include: the interaction of CMYK colors in our world, the amazing biodiversity derived from combinations of DNA’s core nucleotides ATCG, the fundamentals of martial arts which practitioners use together to improvise during sparring matches, the almost infinite variety of models that can be built with modular Lego blocks, and the billions of possible moves in a chess match with just 6 unique pieces.

We invite you to join us and collaborate as we learn more about effective ways to solve problems that you and others care about in the community, in corporations, and on campus! Please visit www.novafellowship.org or email Dr. Charles M. Wood, Professor of Marketing at TU: charles-wood@utulsa.edu.

 

TU nursing students address community health in the midst of the pandemic

With COVID-19 raging and all in-person learning replaced with virtual instruction, faculty in The University of Tulsa’s undergraduate nursing program had to quickly figure out a way to replace clinical rotations while still ensuring their students received a high-quality, relevant education. The ingenious result was to devise a four-week model for juniors in the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program examining client education in the context of a pandemic.

Quarantine poster made by BSN juniors

“This solution made additional sense,” noted Chapman Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Angela Martindale, “given that this is the semester when those students focus on community health.” Martindale taught the course alongside her colleagues Lee Anne Nichols and Cassandra Barrow, both of whom also had a hand in shaping the new direction.

“From social distancing to sickness, COVID-19 has created a spark and lit sequential fires of change within me,” said Adonijah Young, one of the students in the course. “Being given the opportunity to create educational tools to instill knowledge in the community was an amazing experience.”

Young’s sentiments are echoed by fellow student Emily Thomas, who said the community rotation enabled her “to put my feet in other people’s shoes and think critically about what they are feeling and thinking during this time of uncertainty. I am confident the work I did and the skills I developed will benefit me in my future career as a nurse.”

COVID-19 and social distancing

The first week introduced students to the origin and context of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Students reviewed a simulation PowerPoint deck and completed a World Health Organization module on the topic. “Our students wrapped up this first stage by taking a short quiz and earning a certificate of completion,” explained Nichols.

Healthy lifestyle during quarantine posterWeek 2 involved four simulations covering the COVID-19 pandemic and explored the impact of social distancing at local, state, national and global levels. The epidemiological curve was examined at each of those levels, as well as the pandemic risk mitigation plan for both Oklahoma and the United States to flatten the curve. “A main element of our exercises this week was to explore the nursing perspective at each level,” said Barrow. “In support of that goal, our students’ clinical activity was to identify between 5 and 10 ineffective and between 5 and 10 adaptive responses to social distancing right here in Tulsa.” The students then worked in small groups to create PPT decks that shared their findings and presented a nursing diagnosis.

Nursing, pandemic ethics and public education

“During Week 3, students worked in pairs or groups of three to develop a white paper, suitable for the public, on nursing and pandemic ethics,” Martindale noted. These drew on assigned readings and discussions dealing with topics such as the role of nurses who lack personal protective equipment when taking care of patients who have COVID-19. The course wrapped up with a case study/simulation exercise. For this, students wrote individual care plans dealing with an aggregate of patients battling COVID-19. “Having community health online was a very good learning experience for me because I was able to research topics concerning our community on my own and find information on how we can help,” said student Averee Dubach.

Coronavirus educational posterOther assignments included developing educational tools for homeless people, families with children at home, the elderly and patients in clinics. “By the time the rotation was over,” remarked Nichols, “we had over 84 brochures developed to teach aggregates of clients affected by the pandemic.” Many of these brochures will be shared with community partners as our society continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impacts: From the personal to the global

The final assignment involved having each student write a reflective paper discussing how the pandemic had affected health at the local, state, national and global levels. They were also tasked with writing about how social distancing had impacted them personally. As Carol Coffman put it, “Although finishing my junior year of nursing school away from people was not ideal, it was necessary and allowed me to reflect on my role and take responsibility as a future nurse.”

Student Emma Rutter summed up the profound impact of the reimagined clinical rotation on her development as a caring, effective health care professional: “As nurses, we must remember that health is not singular. If our patients are ailing, our community is ailing. We learned how to advocate for an entire aggregate and plan how to take steps to affect the masses. The lesson I am most thankful for in this community rotation is: Your community needs you, and you most definitely need your community. There is always hope when there are those who continue to try.”

Students Emma Rutter, Trenton Hazelton and Carol Coffman wearing blue scrubs
BSN juniors Emma Rutter, Trenton Hazelton and Carol Coffman in the days before the COVID-19 pandemic

If you would like to inquire about using some of the BSN students’ educational resources at your organization, please contact Wendy Palmer at the TU School of Nursing (wendy-palmer@utulsa.edu).

 

COVID-19 as a college freshman

By: Luke Bertaux

This is definitely not the way I expected my freshman year of college to end. I was at McFarlin Library on March 10 with my Global Scholars group writing up a big case analysis we had due the next day, when we all suddenly got an email that courses were immediately moving online. At the time, TU was one of the first schools in the area to make this decision, so the news genuinely seemed too bizarre to be real.

Luke Bertaux and his Little Brother Angel leaping in the air
My little brother, Angel, and me

Little did I know, I would be packing up my belongings three days later and driving myself home to Texas, not to return for the rest of the semester and hoping that my 2008 Toyota Prius would survive the journey home.

The abrupt end to my freshman year on campus was difficult to accept, as I had just started to get involved with more activities around Tulsa. Shortly before the pandemic started, I was paired with my little brother, Angel, through a youth mentoring program called Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma. Since moving back to Texas, I have enjoyed being able to use technology to continue talking to Angel and trying to navigate through our new temporary normal.

Luke Bertaux and a friend wearing face masks outside a Walmart store
A Walmart run during the pandemic

Through the transition to online classes, seeing my classmates in tiny boxes on my computer screen was strange at first, but I am glad that technology is allowing us to stay connected with professors and classmates. Still, virtual technology, no matter how smooth and high resolution, cannot replace the on-campus living experience, the conversations on the way in and out of classrooms, the weekends exploring Tulsa and the personal relationships with professors.

Luke Bertaux jumping in a wooded area
Social distancing in the woods

Life is different because of COVID-19. My easy 90-second walk from my dorm room to the Chick-fil-A in the Student Union has transformed into suiting up in a required mask and gloves to head into Walmart to get groceries. The usual welcome diversions of friends stopping by my dorm room while studying have turned into walking my dogs in between virtual classes. I will no longer get to go to Panama in May with my Global Scholars cohort, and I won’t have the opportunity to compete as a TU finalist for the Worlds Challenge Challenge in Canada.

But that’s ok. I know that as soon as I am able to return to TU’s campus, I will be able to be a part of so many more opportunities. I eagerly await the day I get to go back. Everybody is making sacrifices to adapt to the pandemic lifestyle and so many workers are putting in tons of effort to keep essential services running. I think of the beautiful campus and phenomenal students and professors that I get to return to in order to help me stay motivated during these difficult, but tolerable, times.

Luke Bertaux and two friends jumping up in the University of Tulsa football stadium
Pre-pandemic Chapman Stadium photoshoot

University of Tulsa freshman Luke BertauxLuke Bertaux is a freshman at The University of Tulsa pursuing a dual degree with majors in International Business and Spanish. He is from Keller, Texas, and in his free time he enjoys running and performing music.

TU’s speech-language pathology program delivers therapy at a distance

Teletherapy – or telemedicine – has been around for some time. But the recent arrival of COVID-19 has led to a surge of activity for health care professionals from many disciplines. Faculty and students in The University of Tulsa’s Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders are among those who have embraced teletherapy in order to serve patients during this crisis.

Communication Sciences and Disorders has the largest number of patients in Oklahoma who attend an on-campus clinic. Indeed, the department has more patients than most graduate program clinics anywhere in the state.

Speech-language pathology master's student Gabrielle Cozart sitting at a table with a laptop computer
Gabrielle Cozart, speech-language pathology master’s student

“Over the past few years, our faculty have seen a few patients via teletherapy,” said Suzanne Stanton, the coordinator of TU’s Mary K. Chapman Speech and Hearing Clinic and the Chapman Clinical Assistant Professor of Speech-Language Pathology. “One such individual was a young adult who lived in rural Oklahoma and needed therapy to use her eye-gaze communication system. There was no one in her area with that specific expertise, so teletherapy sessions with one of our faculty members was the solution.”

In 2019, Professor Kris Foyil initiated a contract with Connects Academy to allow the department’s graduate students to work with practicing teletherapists in the community. Since then, each semester two students have been able to work with an experienced licensed teletherapist in her practice.

Rising to the challenge

With the COVD-19 crisis, Communication Sciences & Disorders students were forced to abruptly discontinue their externships and onsite clinical experiences. The Council on Academic Accreditation, however, sent out a notice to accredited programs stating that the standards for certification and completion of clinical hours would not change. As a result, the department had to find new ways for their students to satisfy those requirements in order to graduate on time in May.

Speech-language pathology master's student Marisa Nelson at a table with a laptop computer and paper documents
Marisa Nelson, speech-language pathology master’s student

“We are meeting the needs of our students in several ways,” Stanton noted. “And teletherapy has been a major asset to accomplish that goal.”

During the week of March 23-25, faculty began teletherapy evaluations to assist graduate students who had been pulled from hospital experiences. This included having members of TU’s Tulsa Aphasia Group participate in online aphasia evaluations with students using Zoom technology and following both state and federal guidelines for teletherapy. Stanton coordinated these evaluations, which allowed patients to get the services they needed and the department’s students to continue interacting with individuals.

“It was a quick turnaround to organize,” remarked Stanton, “but rewarding in so many ways. For instance, the patients we helped were isolated, and this taught them how to use new technology to foster social interactions in other situations and settings. One gentleman, for example, was able to use Zoom to talk with his grandson and son in Colorado.”

Simulations

Simulations are the second way Communication Sciences & Disorders is meeting its students’ needs through digital technology. The benefit of such simulation is it allows no-risk practice in aspects of care that previously could only be experienced with patients in person.

Sarah Launchbaugh, a clinical assistant professor of speech-language pathology, has worked with other clinical faculty to organize simulated clinical experiences through Simucase. “By using Simucase’s digital learning platform,” Stanton observed, “our students are able to continue their clinical practica, even during the pandemic in a time of uncertainty in the world around us. It also gives them exposure to patient populations that are at times unavailable in our speech clinic due to low incidence of the disorders.”

Future plans

Spurred on by the COVID-19 emergency, Communication Sciences & Disorders faculty are working with students to offer all clinic services via teletherapy soon. According to Stanton, “we are currently providing online resources for patients and their families, and we are reaching out to determine which patients have the ability to participate in teletherapy.”


Are you interested in a career as a speech-language pathologist? TU’s Communications Sciences & Disorders department has the pathways for you!

Season of cyber competitions goes virtual during COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably changed the spring semester, but TU students and faculty are actively and creatively looking for ways to make the best of the situation. Many of the spring events and competitions continued as planned, just in a new, digital-only format.

Capture the Flag for TPS

Computer science student Tabor Kvasnicka is a perfect example of how innovative ideas can help move a plan forward. TU hosts an online Capture the Flag event every November and in the middle of COVID-19 social distancing measures, Kvasnicka decided to offer that same opportunity to students in the Tulsa Public School system.

Kvasnicka describes the event as a “Jeopardy!-style version of Capture the Flag, where teams solve cybersecurity challenges to reach a string of text called a ‘flag,’ which awards them points.”

But capturing these cyber flags is not easy, and the teams must be well-versed in a variety of topics such as PWN, reverse engineering, cryptography, web and other emerging areas of computer science. The event is tentatively scheduled to start on April 13, and the end date is yet to be determined.

SWCCDC

A third event, the Southwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (SWCCDC) hosted by TU, was originally scheduled for March and temporarily postponed due to COVID-19. But after a few adjustments, faculty and students rallied to offer the event in a virtual realm; university-level students competed Saturday, April 11. The TU team won first place and will compete in the national virtual event May 22-23. CCDC teams exercise both technical and business skills while focusing on the operational aspects of managing and protecting an existing simulated corporate network infrastructure. TU’s team is led by faculty adviser Sal Aurigemma, Edward E. and Helen T. Bartlett Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems.

CSGS

Another great way the TU community is demonstrating its resilience to proceed with regularly scheduled events is the computer simulation and gaming program’

s Computer Simulation and Gaming Conference (CSGC). Originally planned before the pandemic arrived for the weekend of April 17-18, CSGC was quickly transitioned to a virtual competition by Chapman Instructor in Computer Science Akram Taghavi-Burris and her students; all speakers presented online to a worldwide audience of all ages.

 

Shifting the delivery required a lot of flexibility, Taghavi-Burris said: “Our CSGC 2020 event volunteers, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors were quick to respond and encourage the move to a virtual event. While this is a new platform for CSGC, an online conference does have its advantages. We saw an increase of out-of-state attendees, and even those from other countries. Again, our student volunteers have been tremendous and even worked out what tools would be best to stream and keep in touch with our attendees. We’ve even set up a CSGC Discord server on their recommendation and it’s been a great way to communicate with everyone involved.”

While there’s no denying that the semester has been disrupted by COVID-19, the global health crisis has also illuminated the heart, drive, and passion of TU students and faculty. Their ability to revise plans and adapt to constant change ensures the show goes on.

McFarlin Library remains open with online services

As COVID-19 continues to affect daily life and normal operations at The University of Tulsa, campus departments are doing their part to accommodate student learning, faculty instruction and scholarly research. The McFarlin Library staff have pitched in with their own innovative solutions. The most direct way to access library resources, such as remote research help and virtual instructional services, is to visit https://utulsa.libguides.com/COVID-19/libraryservices.

“While the physical building is not accessible, the services and resources are still available,” said Adrian Alexander, R.M. and Ida McFarlin Dean of the Library. “Our people are working remotely and virtually. A lot of what we regularly do involves providing access to electronic databases and other resources we link to in the Cloud, and we are maintaining that posture.”

McFarlin LibraryMcFarlin Library’s temporary closure includes all computer labs and the physical space of Special Collections, but the staff continues to supply copies and distance reference services as normal.

McFarlin’s 26-person staff understands how critical a time this in the semester for students completing final papers, reports and other year-end projects; library employees are answering questions via email, phone and text.

“We always encourage students to reach out to us. We’re doing everything we can to help people navigate our services and content. We will work to find a solution for every request,” said April Schweikhard, director of library public services.

Many scholars already are in the practice of accessing McFarlin remotely for scanned copies of vital digital research materials or online content, but for those students and researchers who still need physical resources, the library is offering a limited checkout option. TU students, faculty, and staff can request materials from the physical collection to pick up at designated dates and times. Pickup is currently available on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Requests must be submitted by midnight the night before.

“We’re adapting as we go along, but we’re in communication with libraries across the country to share information, learn best practices and take recommendations from one another,” Alexander explained.

Access to databases, e-journals and e-books, and research guides is readily available. Interlibrary loan requests for physical books and documents are prohibited temporarily, but staff members are still fulfilling interlibrary loan submissions for electronic materials, including journal articles.

Alexander, Schweikhard and Director of Bibliographic Services, Elizabeth Szkirpan, have led the charge to mobilize McFarlin’s staff remotely and provide quality customer service to all students, faculty and researchers. “The work goes on,” Alexander said, “and everyone has done a great job of meeting the challenge.”

Have library questions? Contact a McFarlin librarian by calling 918-631-2871, texting 224-357-6350 (22helpme50) or emailing mcfarlinlib@gmail.com.