Unlocking libraries during this lockdown

Selvakumar. J

The purpose of a school library is to cater to the information needs of its users– the students, teaching and non-teaching staff. The information needs vary from academic to recreational, parallel reading to current updates, preparation for competitions, etc.

During Covid-19, schools are conducting online classes and teachers, some or most of the time, are handicapped with no access to reference materials they would otherwise have found in the school library. Teachers are now dependent mostly on the internet. In this continued lockdown for schools how can the library cater to its user’s information needs?  

Affluent libraries can survive with a website in place that gives users access to subscribed e-magazines, e-books and online databases. But the scenario with respect to most Indian schools is different. Even affluent schools generally don’t have a digital presence.

Here are a few suggestions for agile and resilient libraries to follow:

–Libraries can work on aggregating available barrier free e-resources and making this information available on free websites which they can create using google sites or other similar services.    

–Librarians can register their schools on the National Digital Library of India website, thereby providing their teachers and students access to a number of e resources and NCERT books.

–Textbook publishers often have a lot of free e-resources such as worksheets, videos, mind maps, etc., on their websites for different classes clearly earmarked. There are separate YouTube channels as well that can provide teachers with good resources. Librarians can create a database of such useful resources and make it all available in one place for teachers/students to immediately access and thereby save their time.

–It is also time for libraries to become Centers for Innovative Teaching and Learning’. Libraries should identify, select, provide various small experimental projects by scanning academic magazines with the help of peers. These projects may be an idea or the success story of a teacher, about a software to assist in online teaching, etc. Teachers can take up these projects to implement, incorporate in their teaching practices with necessary adjustments.

–For children as well as teachers, in addition to their academic needs, libraries can also provide recreational reading materials. We can scout for audio books or e story books and make them available to our teachers and students.

Libraries are now moving from place to space! It’s time for the library professional to act and capitalize on this period!

The author is a librarian at DAV Public school, Chennai. He can be reached at jskr.lib@gmail.com

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