Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Ascending into an Open Future: Proceedings from ACRL 2021 Virtual Conference

Publication Date



There are different ways to interpret the statement, “the library never closes.” One interpretation is that the library as a place and a building is so vital to a university that it cannot close under any circumstances. At the University of Memphis (UM), one of the universities included in this study, the McWherter library did not close, even in March 2020 when fear and uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic were at their height. The University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) and Illinois State University (ISU), the other two institutions included in this study, closed their buildings in March and stayed closed into the summer. A second interpretation of “the library never closes” is that the library is more than a place or building. The library is a collection of resources, a set of services, and a group of people who can operate independently of the building. As long as it continues to serve its users, the library remains open even when its doors are closed. This paper uses data to examine the extent to which three university libraries were able to continue serving library users despite the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data cover various aspects of library collections and services: physical checkouts, research services, instruction, website visits, discovery service sessions, electronic serials, electronic books, and streaming videos.


This paper was originally published in Ascending into an Open Future: Proceedings from ACRL 2021 Virtual Conference.



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