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A library that never sleeps
  • Writer : KU TODAY
  • Hits : 1959
  • Date : 2020-07-30

A library that never sleeps


The evolution of libraries has occurred not only by dint of external developments but also because of internal transformation. Technological advances have transformed the way Korea University Library operates, through the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system, quick and easy checkout services, the expansion of electronic resources, and a mobile seat allocation app for users. For many years it has been working on making its services available anytime, by adopting such cutting-edge technologies. Thanks to its hard work and dedication, when most university libraries in Korea and around the world have shut due to the spread of COVID-19, the library is continuing to provide self-checkout and return services and various online services, and is keeping reading rooms open by ensuring the capacity of users to social distance.

Contactless services provided through online systems

Korea University is the first university in Korea to have established the RFID system throughout its campus. The system was established in December 2014 to allow library users to check out and return material at any time, and from anywhere on campus. They can also reserve material online and pick it up and return it at one of the smart checkout and return machines dotted around the campus, including the libraries. Currently, more than 70% of material is being checked out and returned in a contactless way, using RFID devices.

“KLIB 2” is a mobile application developed by Korea University Library to allow library users to make a reservation for a reading room seat or other library facilities using their mobile devices. Ten minutes after they make a reservation through the app, they can be allocated a seat by confirming their reservation using Bluetooth or at a campus kiosk.

The library is also establishing a major-specific academic research support system. The Scholarly Information Curation Service (SICS) has been up and running since September 2015. Thanks to the system, researchers have online access to field-specific books, scholarly papers, databases, and research reports that help them keep up with the latest research trends, academic news, academic conference schedules, and other major-specific academic information. Now, more than 247,000 academic resources related to 10 majors from over 7,360 sources are being updated every day. In March 2020, the library revamped its website to make it more amenable to mobile devices. In addition, it is investing 75% of its budget in the purchase of electronic scholarly resources to improve the quality of its online services. Currently, Korea University Library holds more than one million items of digital content (e-journals, e-books, e-learning content, etc.), making it the private university with the largest collection of digital resources in Korea. The COVID-19 crisis has led to a significant increase in the numbers of those accessing electronic resources from off campus as well as in the number of e-book borrowers.

Libraries’ response to COVID-19

Korea University Library has been flexibly adjusting its service policies based on the guidelines of the Korea University COVID-19 Prevention Committee and in light of the Korean government’s coronavirus alert level at any given time.

All reading rooms in campus libraries open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and limit seat occupancy rates to 25-50% of capacity. Reference rooms are open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and limit seat occupancy rates to 30%. Those who are not members of Korea University are not allowed to enter any libraries on campus. Staff members and thermal imaging cameras are being placed at the entrances of all library buildings to check every visitor’s body temperature and to make sure that they are wearing face masks. Antimicrobial films have been attached to the surfaces of all door handles and unmanned kiosks. All library facilities are disinfected every Tuesday.

Establishing new environments for the post COVID-19 world

Korea University Library strives to continuously improve its services in light of new demands for “ontact” (face-to-face online) and “untact” (contactless offline) environments in the post COVID-19 world. More specifically, it will increase its collection e-books and audiobooks and make available more open access resources. The number of subjects covered by SICS will be increased from 10 to 30, and online services (online reference tool development, online book reservation service, etc.) will be expanded.

In addition, as part of KU's post COVID-19 safety measures, the library will consistently expand contactless library services through measures such as the improved safety of reading rooms, the expansion of convenient checkout services, and the piloting of a material delivery service for users with disabilities.


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