Now that most of the world is in some sort of lockdown, librarians are finding new and inventive ways to reach out to their patrons. As a school librarian in London, UK, I’ve been keeping busy reaching out to the students that I serve. It’s a bizarre situation that we’re all in but we are all in it together. For the first two weeks of this mess I couldn’t read one page, my mind couldn’t focus. Over time I was able to start reading and now I’m back to where I was before. Reading can decrease anxiety, increase empathy, and generally take you out of your situation for a few hours.
So here are a few ways I’ve been reaching out to my students, I hope you find these useful and can adopt them to your library or school!
Over on Instagram I’ve been running daily (Monday–Friday) one minute book reviews. These are fun for me and have generated some great comments. I have alerted parents of the students at the school I work at about this and they have also been watching. It’s been fun to interact with the authors and publishers as well. You can see one by clicking here.
This is an easy one, I’ve been ensuring that my emails are being checked for parents or students who want to keep in contact. This has been a fun way to recommend books and provide links to additional resources if needed.
I’ve been sending out weekly newsletters to parents every Monday since the UK went into lockdown. I created this newsletter in response to what I felt was an overwhelming number of educational resources that we were suddenly being bombarded with. I thought that parents must also be feeling overwhelmed and felt it was important that they received information in weekly, small tidbits. Therefore I made a one-page newsletter with links to resources and literary ideas in PDF format. You can access this newsletter here.
I love using Quizizz as a fun way to engage students and a tool I use often as a reward or an end of term activity. I decided to create a weekly online quiz. It’s 50 questions which are multiple choice and focus on children’s and YA books. I can monitor the leader board from here, and I provide the code an hour before the quiz starts. It’s a lot of fun—I run them every Friday at 7:00 p.m.!
Flipgrid is an amazing tool and a great way to connect to others online. At Glenthorne, we always run a yearly poetry in your pocket event where students and teachers come to the library for an open mic event. They are given short poems to memorise and then recite, with prizes for the most creative or funny way to express them. This year, I’m going to use Flipgrid to recite my poem in hopes that other teachers and librarians will respond in kind with their own short poetry videos.
At Glenthorne High School Library, our students interview authors when they visit the school. We publish this to our Soundcloud page for anyone to listen to. Since we’ve been in lockdown, I took the podcast equipment home and have been interviewing authors. I’ve written before on why it’s a great idea to start a podcast from your school library. You don’t need unlimited cash, it can be done on the cheap and you don’t need to interview authors, you can interview other librarians or simply run one solo, recommending books, discussing the highs and lows of being a librarian in lockdown.
Whatever your situation is I hope as a librarian you are able to reach out to your patrons or students during this crisis. Personally it has helped me a great deal to know that I’ve been able to reach at least some people with book recommendations and resources.