The COVID pandemic affected normal school routine. Schools were shut and with them the school libraries. The connection between readers and libraries was lost at a time when it was most needed. How could librarians help readers, people, find some solace and cope with the mental stress of what was happening outside their doors?
While there was little that libraries could do during the initial months of the lockdown, slowly the realization set in that libraries too could go online. Here are a couple of ideas and online tools that I discovered to keep the library accessible to students in my school.
Online circulation of books: We put in place a facility that allows students to borrow books online via an online catalogue. The online catalogue provides brief details about the books available in the library. Once a reader places a request for a book online, it is issued to them and they can pick it up from the library on specific days.
Book return: We have a ‘BOOK DROP BOX’ in an easily accessible place on the school premises. The students/parents can drop the books they borrowed into this box. The box is emptied only after 48 hours. The books are then sanitized before being returned to the shelves.
Virtual library: Google Slides is an app that I have successfully used in this pandemic. This tool helps create a virtual library. The virtual library bookshelves can be curated easily keeping in mind the level of the readers. You can even arrange the shelves according to authors and genres. The virtual bookshelves look just like the ones in an actual library. When you click on a book that you would like to read, it opens up. Readers can either read online or download books that are free of copyright for later reading.
Wakelet:- Wakelet is another wonderful digital tool that I employed to organize and curate content from across the web. Using this tool, one can even conduct storytelling sessions and read-alouds. Wakelet also allows you to invite contributors to your collection to make it more resourceful. You can curate and save your collection the way you want to present it to your readers. It’s a complete storehouse of your library resources. For reference visit: – https://wakelet.com/@LPSVirtuallibrary
Padlet: – Padlet is a great tool that can help librarians engage their readers. This tool provides a live collaborative web platform in which users can upload, organize and share content to virtual bulletin boards known as “Padlets”. A teacher-librarian can make use of a Padlet for book discussions and story writing projects. Besides, the students can be asked to contribute to these digital boards by writing book reviews and reports. One can also use this tool for making book or author presentations. It allows you to embed weblinks and upload videos, images and more. One can share Padlet with students of a specific class or group via Google Classroom or email. Also, Google forms can be created and shared with readers for quizzes related to books.
Library blog: A library blog can be designed and created for sharing library resources and also updating users about all that’s happening in the library. Library timings, circulars, planners, events and activities can be updated on a regular basis to provide information to the students. Here’s a link to our school library blog: https://lpslibrary.wixsite.com/knowyourlibrary.
Online webinars and sessions: School librarians can arrange for online webinars and sessions with authors and professionals to celebrate reading with book lovers. Storytelling sessions can be undertaken for young readers and book talk sessions for students of higher grades.
The teacher-librarian can also start online book clubs to stay connected with readers. There is no end to the tools and ideas that school librarians can explore and implement. Where there is a will, there is a way. Let’s make the best of opportunities to explore and experiment with new tools. This is the time to unlearn the old and learn the new ways of librarianship.
The author works as a librarian at Learning Paths School, Mohali. She is the founder librarian at Learning Paths School and has 12 years of experience in the profession. She is the recipient of the award for the Recognition of Outstanding Excellence, by Chandigarh Librarians’ Association. She is a member of the International Association of School Librarianship and actively participates in the projects of this association. She loves reading and enjoys writing as well. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org