For years now, colleges across the U.S. have been making use of document scanning and management platforms to build out their archives and increase operational efficiency on an ongoing basis. That continues to this day, even as the coronavirus outbreak has all but closed many campuses.

At the University of Virginia, the school's Library department has been hard at work to facilitate remote teaching and learning with scanning efforts, according to the school's website. UVA has been a closed campus since mid-March, but even through the end of April, the department's staff was diligently working to not only create digitized versions of necessary files, but also work with faculty to make sure everything they needed was easily understood and usable.

A big scanning effort
Of course, to get a campus the size of UVA even remotely up to speed, it required an all-hands-on-deck approach to scanning critical files and textbooks, the school noted. Through the end of early April, they had scanned nearly 69,000 pages from more than 125,000 individual book pages, as well as nearly 2,700 images from rare materials.

These efforts have now ceased because the library staff completed every scanning request submitted by faculty, and those workers are now – like so many others – sequestering themselves at home, the report said.

A different type of effort
Meanwhile, at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, the library staff has been archiving some very different types of files – preserving potentially important historical documents from nearby communities originating specifically because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Brown Daily Herald reported. 

"This is the first time in my career as an archivist where I am collecting due to an event, a tragic event, in real-time – where we put down our other work and turned our attention squarely to harvesting evidence of what was happening right in front of us,"  Mary Murphy, archivist at the school's Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, told the newspaper.

These efforts include not only physical documents, but also oral histories from people affected by the outbreak, the report said.

Certainly, this is important work at a time when there is a lot for just about everyone to worry about, and having comprehensive, effective systems for scanning and storing important data is critical to ensuring effective continuity going forward.