Two School Librarians Look Ahead to Servicing Students

Friday, August 07, 2020 2:12 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

by Stephanie Mills

School librarians are no stranger to collaborating with teachers within their buildings, but this past school year found them relying on their professional colleagues for ideas. When students and teachers went to distance learning, school librarians immediately tapped into their creativity to continue offering services to students in different ways. From driving house to house to deliver books, as Meredith Moore did, to creating fun Tik Toks to keep their students entertained (we are looking at you, Tasha White), school librarians tried to keep their students at the heart of their plans. 

As a giant question mark looms over the upcoming school year, Melanie Roy and Stephanie Mills, both middle school librarians, have been brainstorming ideas for how to continue to meet the needs of students. Many schools have already said that traditional library visits will not be allowed. Here’s a list of what they hope to accomplish this year!

  1. Collaborate with our incredible public librarians to ensure we are providing every possible opportunity to our patrons.

  2. Hold a public library card application drive to promote that a library card is an essential “back to school” supply, just like a pen or pencil! Also, provide a link to apply online as another viable option for families. Ask our faculty to put a “public library card” on their back-to-school supply list they provide to students and families.

  3. Plan an online orientation for students, with a focus on accessing digital platforms for reading and research. What we realized in the Spring is that creating short videos for students, teachers, and families to access is just GOOD teaching practice. Plan a place to store these videos for later use by our patrons - preferably on our library websites.

  4. Devise a weekly system to provide readers with book recommendations. Promote ebooks and audiobooks, particularly through BookLynx and Overdrive as a priority. We are unsure about ILL delivery, so finding ways to get books we do not have in the hands of our readers is of utmost importance.

  5. Curate and share up-to-date resources available to students, teachers, and families as well as video tutorials on our library websites. Create a library Google Classroom students and staff can access for login information that cannot be posted publicly.

  6. Devise creative ways to get books into readers’ hands - pod bins for 6 weeks, longer patron checkouts, deliver and pick up books at homerooms.

  7. Be good models of copyright adherence for students and staff by sharing Kiera Parrott’s SLJ Publisher Directory widely, in order to properly implement online read alouds for our students. Perhaps create a video about copyright adherence for our staff to access as well.

  8. Provide “Reader’s Advisory” via a Google Form. While students may be able to use RICAT to log in and place a hold on a specific title, many students will still need to be guided to new reading choices. Having an open-ended Google Form allows students to give examples of books and authors they have enjoyed or topics they would like to know more about, giving the librarian more opportunities to provide personalized titles. Also, be sure to promote’s NoveList to teach students how to advocate for themselves.

  9. Post photos of books and book displays to school social media to provide as many opportunities as possible for our patrons to virtually “browse” the library.

  10. Create ways to keep students engaged in the content-fun distractions like trivia sent out in Google Classroom, “Where’s Waldo” pictures with your Bitmoji hidden, weekly resources featured, ask for student input to establish weekly hashtags to engage the larger community.

  11. Provide online office hours to give staff and students opportunities to see you and learn outside of regular lessons.

  12. Establish a weekly time for students who would normally want to chat about books, life, etc. (your library regulars) a time to Zoom and connect. Create a shared Google Slideshow that they can add book recommendations to and refer back to later for ideas. Consider a blog for students (Thanks, Heidi Blais!) to submit book recommendations! (Here's a middle school example).

  13. Above all, try to think of this as “one difficult year.” It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the uncertainty and the knowledge that we aren’t able to teach how we normally do. However, librarians are always a mix of creativity and ingenuity, and this can be a year to show all our stakeholders that we can shine, even in the face of adversity.

"Rhode Island Library Association" is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Rhode Island Library Association, P.O. Box 6765, Providence, RI 02940

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