Virtual learning in my library

It’s an understatement to say this year isn’t going as planned. This time last year, I was working on plans for new laptop delivery systems in our school and new ways to engage teachers in their classrooms, while also teaching a new computer science course and planning makerspace expansions. Most of this just isn’t happening now (though I’m happy to say we are moving toward a 1:1 laptop program — a small pandemic silver lining that should have rewards for years to come!). Our school is, like so many others, in a virtual learning model that appears like it will last indefinitely.

At first, I think I resisted feeling like our new services were permanent for this year because I thought we’d physically reopen. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m definitely in a “reinvention” phase in our library. I’d like to share with you today what we’re doing for virtual learning this year.

None of these ideas are especially groundbreaking at this point, but I find that as we are reinventing so much, it’s helpful for me to see models of the work of others. I hope it helps you too!

Virtual library/ increased presence

Inspired by this article from Joyce Valenza, I added a virtual library to my LibGuides. It helps students find every resource they need more easily, so it’s a long-term change that should help too!

Promotion and research collaborations with teachers in their virtual classrooms

Research and reading are still cornerstones of student learning, and there’s no time like now to help students and staff alike improve their technology skills. It’s harder to establish relationships with our new teachers, but I’ve had good opportunities to work with teachers with whom I already have relationships. I am trying to make sure I see a new grade level each month — that’s less than I usually take on, but should still mean I can reach most students at least once this year.

Curbside pickup or book delivery

We are offering students the opportunity to have library books delivered or to pick them up at school. To bring a little joy, we are packaging all the books up in “care packages” with notes and treats.

Book browsing visits

In my school community, book browsing visits are permitted on our asynchronous learning day (Wednesday). Students register in advance, and we only allow small groups. We use a health check app and temperature checks for anyone entering the building whether for library visits or another purpose. Our library assistant has been willing to take the lead on these visits, which has helped me stay available for other types of instruction and student work.

Flexibility to take on new roles in supporting our students

At one point, I’d have said that librarians can lead from the library (still true!) and we should set high boundaries against taking on other administrative duties to focus on our vital work. I am softening this position a bit in this difficult time, taking on some additional leadership roles and practicing saying “yes” to what my school needs, even if it may shift the balance away from some services. For example, I’m serving as a substitute team leader for maternity leave for a few months. I’ve dropped off graduation gowns and taken on some audiobook support for our student support team. What your program and school need may be different than mine, but I think there’s no time like the present to be open to new ideas of what our work might look like.


What does virtual learning look like in your library?

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