Since lockdown, librarians have been going digital to reach their patrons and provide as much of a “regular service as they possibly can. It’s a huge challenge considering for most librarians the majority of their role involves face to face interaction. In a bustling school library, it truly does feel like you’ve been cut off from the world that you love. I am fortunate in that I have not been furloughed, therefore I can still go to my library to do work as we are open to students whose parents are key workers and to those who are vulnerable.
For librarians who have found themselves in this bizarre, unsettling situation, there are many things you can do, here are a few that I have found that have worked well with our students.
I currently run a weekly quiz via Quizizz, this does not require students to log in or create an account. You don’t actually see your students (our school has a no video interaction policy) but you do see who is in the lead and I shout encouraging things over Twitter. The quiz is made up of 50 middle grade and young adult book questions. It’s a challenge to make it every week but it’s a lot of fun. I make a logo for it using Canva and promote it over social media and email, lots of parents and students take the quiz together.
Every week I send out a newsletter to parents and carers. My goal is to provide a one-page list of activities and information. I felt that social media was bombarding us with free resources and I simply couldn’t keep up. I thought parents would enjoy a short, one page newsletter with a few literary based things they could do each week.
Every day, Monday to Friday, I submit a one minute book review on the Library’s Instagram account. I tag these with the #OneMinuteBookReview hashtag. I have found it to be an effective way to reach out to parents, students and other librarians and to promote books that have flown under the radar. I have also done themed reviews where I’ve done all graphic novels for a week, books that focus on mental health and so on. It’s a fun, easy way to connect and to spread the word about great books.
We have a popular podcast at Glenthorne High School where students interview authors when they come to the library. I have continued this at home using Skype audio. Students call in with an author, we create a group and then spend the next thirty minutes talking, asking questions and discussing our favourite books. It’s been a really fun way to not only connect with new authors but to keep students engaged with the books that they love. A podcast can be done easily and on the cheap, Skype is free, I record on a program called Audacity which is also free. Microphones can be purchased relatively cheaply these days and many laptops have ones built in that do the job. I highly recommend using podcasts to get your students’ creative minds running!
About the Author
Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, Lucas Maxwell has spent the past five years as Head Librarian at Glenthorne High School in South London, UK. He is a contributor for Book Riot and has written for School Library Journal & the School Librarian Magazine. In 2017 he was fortunate enough to be named the UK’s School Librarian of the Year by the School Library Association.
You can read Lucas's previous blogs here: Running a Successful Book Award and Celebrating World Book Day at Glenthorne High School