Life and times of a High School Librarian during the lockdown phase.
How does a librarian define themselves as “useful” to students and staff; during this global pandemic sweeping the world and confined to the house without the librarian’s precious companions – books and journals that define their existence? In this fast-paced digital world. That is a question that haunts and worries many librarians, and he/she needs to redefine their space and rise like the phoenix from the ashes to avoid an existential crisis of sorts.
First things first. I had to evolve into the role of a virtual librarian to provide online information services to my teachers, students & other staff. I had to shift away from the physical space of the library to a digital space of resources and create a library there. My limitation was that I did not have a collection of ebooks, and I was dealing with students from the age group of 13-18 years and three (IB, IGCSE, and Indian National curriculums). It seemed to be a daunting task, but I was up for a challenge.
I have a dedicated and motley group of librarians under me equally motivated and ready to take the leap of faith. We brainstormed and decided that each week we would send them a curated list of lockdown resources based on a theme.
We have opened up Google Classrooms, and Managebac and extensively used the Destiny Collections feature. So here are some examples.
We also created an interesting and personalized, curated list for teachers to help them individually in their online teaching. This way, we assisted them when they were struggling to adapt to a new way of teaching. Collection set created for lockdown:
Each set has multiple resources.
We created interactive Padlets to keep in touch with them and were happy to be in touch with them. We built interactive Padlet walls, which was a great tool to stay in touch with our students. This worked magically well as we had wonderful interactive exchanges of their views & ideas during this period.
We send them resources on mindfulness to both teachers and students to care for their mental health and keep them motivated & positive during this period.
We send them funny and creative online games and online Mandalas for helping them with the stress & use their free time productively.
We send them custom-made book trailers to cheer them up with small previews. These book trailers encouraged students to go and read e-copy of the books.
We also started Tech Thursdays and introduced a tech tool each week. This way, we kept our students abreast of the latest educational tools and, they were very enthusiastic about using them in their projects & other works.
We send them a monthly bulletin of Current affairs to help them keep in touch with what is happening in the world. We have shared with students a monthly bulletin of current affairs, which kept them abreast of all the significant events & happenings in the world. This bulletin was compiled with the help of all leading Indian & International news sources.
We converted the library periods of IGCSE Class into a skill development period. In these skill enhancement sessions, various ATL skills, Ed-tech tools, Academic Integrity & Introduction to citations were conducted for students using the Zoom platform.
For IBDP Extended Essay, we created a Libguide of resources so that students could access the information 24×7, and supervisors could share them with their students. We collaborated with teachers and taught the students referencing and held zoom sessions to guide them through formal presentations and referencing of research papers.
Slowly but surely, we have inched back and claimed our position as facilitators of information. Having like-minded colleagues who are up for any new ideas helped, and we spent many hours debating and rejecting ideas, and then once we started, there was always so much more.
In this COVID-19 pandemic situation, we have to remind the whole world that libraries are essential, and so are the librarians, as they are experts in organizing and disseminating the information in physical and virtual spaces.
Libraries and librarians are inseparable from the society they serve and the society in which they live. Thus, a library in a pandemic is indispensable.
Let’s rise & shine to the occasion. Step up your skills and journey ahead into this vast space of innovative practices. Take this period as a defining moment to cross the threshold from conventional methods to a virtual space of unlimited ideas.
– Mila Chakrabarty, Head Librarian, IBDP Curriculum Coordinator, IB Extended Essay Coordinator