A Message from Penn Libraries

March 15, 2020

Dear All,

As the University’s and the world’s response to COVID-19 continues to shift at a quickening rate to offset the spread of the virus, effective immediately, all Penn Libraries, including the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, will be closed to the Penn community until further notice.

Staff have been working through the weekend to digitize course materials and faculty-selected works for classes as we move online, but with the closure of our libraries, we will not be able to make all of these works available digitally.  We will need to direct faculty solely to our e-resources at this point.

We will redouble our efforts to increase support for a remote teaching, research and learning environment, and we have created a web page designed to reflect and respond to the needs of our students and faculty:


We are committed to offering multiple virtual services through these challenging times and currently have many augmented services now underway:


Research and Teaching Support: Our fifty subject librarians will be available to answer questions, support research and teaching, and respond to requests for digital materials. There are multiple ways for faculty and students to connect with them:

  • CANVAS - Consult Virtual Classes: Guides, Tutorials, and Services for information on Canvas, the educational platform managed by the Penn Libraries’ Courseware Services Team.
  • The Libraries' live chat will offer expanded hours starting on March 16. We will be available from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. We have multiple librarians staffing this chat and encourage you and your students to take advantage of this live service.
  • We monitor "Ask a Question" submissions throughout the day, and are committed to responding within 24 or fewer hours.
  • Librarians will set up video conferencing with faculty or students using Bluejeans, Zoom, or MS Teams to answer questions or support research. These can be reserved by contacting a subject librarian or through our appointment scheduler.


Books and Collections: Fortunately, the majority of the Libraries' collections are available in digital format. If faculty require a resource that is currently only available in print, we offer the following:

  •  Faculty and students can request the purchase of new digital materials by contacting their subject librarian. If we are unable to purchase, we will help faculty and instructors by recommending alternate resources. Unfortunately, given new restrictions on staff access to Libraries buildings, we are unable to digitize texts at this time.
  • For streaming video access in courses, we continue to offer our very robust Kanopy, AVON, Swank and Docuseek film collections. Our librarians will fill requests for new streaming videos, if they are commercially available.
  • We are acquiring multiple new, large collections of e-books and hope to have these activated before March 23. They will be discoverable along with all of our other resources through the Libraries’ catalog, Franklin.


Access to Digital Resources:

The Lean Library browser extension allows you to access Penn Libraries’ licensed content seamlessly from off campus. Read this guide for help getting started.

For more in-depth information on accessing e-resources, optimal browser settings, as well as common connection problems and solutions,consult this guide.Please help us inform the academic community.

Thank you all for your understanding and support, and be well,

Constantia Constantinou
Carton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of Libraries

Last Updated 03/01/2020 - 14:09