School Libraries During COVID-19

COVID-19 has, very quickly, changed our world. It seemed to come out of nowhere (though some dystopian writers might say they predicted this years ago) and within a matter of weeks and months, life as we know it has been altered. For many, the impact has been far greater reaching than a change in civil liberties. It’s a heart breaking situation for many.

Within schools, it has sparked quick change. A big drop in attending student numbers. The move to online learning. A very quick learning curve for many as they navigate new technologies and new pedagogies.

I am fortunate to work within the school system and my jobs have been protected. I’m grateful for this security. The two school libraries I work in were quick to respond to the changing situation. Here are just a few of the things we have done so far:

  • Allowed students and staff to borrow as many books and resources as they wanted. For some, this meant walking out with boxes and bags of books. The response was gratitude. Public libraries had already closed and many were facing weeks of staying at home. A book (or 10 or 20) was comforting.
  • When school moved to “pupil free” and “online learning” we created click and collect pickups. Students and staff could request books through our online catalogue and we prepared these for collection at the front of the library to limit contact.
  • Created online readers groups. My book club has been using an online platform to communicate for a while now, so we are continuing to use that, as well as online meet-ups. I have also created some new groups, such as a readers and reviewers group and I want to explore the possibility of a student and parent book club.
  • Created social media for our library. Just quietly, I was like “finally!!!”. I finally got my wish to create and run some social media pages for our library. Facebook has been happening for a while, but I’ll be running the Twitter and Instagram pages in the hopes of connecting with staff and students.
  • Sharing lots of online resources and links to the resources shared by publishers and authors.
  • Enabling access to digital resources for teachers.
  • Sharing access to Clickview, LibGuides, ebooks and databases.
  • Building online library lessons
  • Promoting the use of local public library digital resources.

Without student supervision time requirements, we’ve also been doing a lot of admin tasks, like preparing displays, finishing the new dividers and stocktaking.

The results: Well, by all accounts students, staff and parents are happy. We’ve received many grateful thank yous and appreciation for the access to as many books as they want. Our loan statistics are through the roof!!! And this makes stocktaking easier, as there isn’t as much left on the shelves.

The team at the Students Need School Libraries campaign have created a blog series called “Snapshot of a School Library During COVID-19” where library teams are sharing what they have been up to during these new and challenging times. You can see the posts here.

The Library organisations are also collating resources and offering support.



SLASA – including a huge range of resources