The new normal: Chronicle of the University of Groningen Library in times of the COVID-19 pandemic


Bert Platzer
Marjan Brouwers


At the end of February 2020, the University of Groningen Library (UB) celebrated its 405th anniversary with an open day, lectures, guided tours, theatre performances, musical performances and an interactive anniversary lunch for UB staff members. The bustling UB City Centre that welcomes thousands of students every day became a festival ground and was once again the ‘place to be’ at the University of Groningen (UG).

No wonder it was unreal to walk through the empty and quiet building three weeks later. Our slogan ‘University of Groningen Library – where the Shhh happens’ suddenly took on a completely different meaning. The UB did not close during the ‘intelligent lockdown’, and it was anything but quiet behind the scenes: the UB still offered its services to UG students and staff members during the COVID-19 crisis. Even when the Cabinet announced on 3 November that some additional measures were being taken on top of the partial lockdown, the UB remained open. While all public libraries, museums and theatres had to close their doors.

This chronicle describes the adjustments to our services in the period from March to October 2020: our experiences and considerations and the preparations to reopen the reading rooms with measures that changed almost every week.

The authors Bert Platzer and Marjan Brouwers interviewed dozens of employees – on behalf of all University Library staff members – about their experiences over the past few months. The result: The New Normal. Chronicle of the University of Groningen Library in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As director, I find it remarkable how UB staff members responded to this new norm. Thanks to their dedication, flexibility and inventiveness, it was possible to maintain the services of the University Library – to the delight of our users.

I would like to express my gratitude, respect and admiration to all University Library staff members. I dedicate this book to them, about a period which is now part of the 405-year history of the University of Groningen Library.

Marjolein Nieboer

Director of the University of Groningen Library

Published by University of Groningen Press
Broerstraat 4
9712 CP Groningen
The Netherlands

English Language Translation © Annelies Gallagher

Cover design and typesetting: LINE UP boek en media bv | Mirjam Kroondijk

Photo Cover and photo’s book interior: Tom van der Kloet


Download data is not yet available.



December 24, 2020


Details about this monograph

ISBN-13 (15)


Publication date (01)