JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
In March 2020, the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence’s Stimson Library at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston closed its doors to protect the health and safety of MEDCoE students and faculty from COVID-19.
But the Stimson Library never stopped providing interlibrary loans, document delivery services and reference services to students and staff. Library staff were monitoring the library inbox and filling article requests as they came in and all online resources remained available with remote access.
The Stimson Library supports more than 30,000 students and many more permanent party assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, or MEDCoE. MEDCoE is the Army’s proponent responsible for training and educating the medical force.
Shortly after the library closed its doors, the Stimson Library began migrating all of its records to TRADOC’s new Army University Library System, or AULS.
Jodi Quesnell has been the director of Stimson Library since January 2019.
“While this had been planned for many months, our staff worked closely with AULS staff to ensure the move to AULS was as smooth as possible and had minimal impact on student access to our online EBook and eJournal subscriptions,” Quesnell said.
The new AULS came at the right time because it gave students the ability to reserve print books online and then pick up the books outside the library.
As new MEDCoE classes started, the library provided virtual orientations and assisted students with their research projects using the new Teams technology.
Quesnell said document delivery and interlibrary loan services continued.
“We continued to purchase new books which were processed and added to the new AULS online catalog so they could be easily found and requested for checkout,” she explained.
By October of 2020, safety protocols, including Plexiglas and cleaning stations, were in place, and Stimson Library was able to reopen for MEDCoE personnel to use library computers.
“Our entire Stimson Library staff received both of their COVID vaccines and were able to work without masks,” Quesnell said. As Health Protection Condition, or HPCON, levels gradually improved, Stimson Library opened to allow students to study in the library, and we eventually allowed students to study in groups. Things were returning to ‘normal,’” Quesnell added.
By July 2021, the Delta variant began spreading in the local area and JBSA moved the HPCON level from Bravo to Bravo Plus.
“Once again, everyone is required to wear masks, regardless of vaccine status, and social distance,” Quesnell said.
Cleaning protocols implemented in October of 2020 remain in place to minimize the chance of COVID spreading within the library.
To make it easier to maintain distance within the library, the lower level of the library opened Aug. 2. Ten additional computers, as well as quiet space to study, are available on the lower level. Four study rooms are available on the lower level and can be reserved using the new AULS.
“I encourage students looking for a good place to study to come to Stimson Library,” Quesnell said.
The library is expanding hours back to pre-COVID-19 hours of 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays. She hopes the new hours, which go into effect Sept. 7, will increase the availability of Stimson Library services and provide a place for students to study, either alone or in a group.
“The Stimson Library remains focused on supporting MEDCoE students and faculty,” Quesnell said. “If you have any ideas or suggestions for services or resources Stimson Library should provide, stop by and let us know.”
For more information about MEDCoE’s Stimson Library, visit https://medcoe.army.mil/stimson-library.