Bookin’ It To The Library

Librarians Explain LMC

Fallyn Kowalski

      As the one-year mark since the start of COVID-19 passed, it was evident how different the world had become. There were new rules and regulations to keep people safe: social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.

     Not only did Covid affect the structure of the school’s classrooms, but it also affected the functionality of the library. Library media specialists Elizabeth Ferguson and Theresa Christal took precautions to ensure the library was a safe space for students.

     Before Covid, the library media center was seen as a quiet space to relax and get things done.

      “We’ve always seen our library as kind of a hangout spot that’s always been popular where people could gather and get together,” said Ferguson.

     Before, students were welcomed to the library before school for Advisory and during lunch. Due to Covid, students could no longer do that.

      “Because we’ve had to be so distanced, that doesn’t really get to happen,” said Ferguson. “Before school, everybody has to go to the Fieldhouse or a designated area, so there’s not the same kind of opportunity to group up and just kind of relax and spend time here.”

     To reduce the spread of Covid, the librarians started certain practices when students came into the library.

     “Students have to sanitize their hands,” said Ferguson. “We spread out our furniture so that people don’t crowd together.”

     Library books go through a quarantine process to guarantee they are safe for students. There was a book-return cart set up in the front corner of the library. The cart had the day of the week on the side.

     Once the books were collected, they went into a quarantine area.

     “When a student turns in a book, it has to sit for four days before we can do anything with it,” said Christal.     

     The librarians said this process was pretty simple to maintain.

     “We are able to very easily get a visual of when things are collected and when they are safe to put back on the shelf,” said Ferguson.

     Covid also affected the job of being a library media specialist. Christal said everything they were doing was different. Before Covid, they were able to fully interact with students and help them. Ferguson said because of Covid, they didn’t get to know people as well.

     Similar to other classes, the library started moving materials online. They started doing a lot of tech support.      

     “Teachers, admin, students, helping them to navigate that online portion that they haven’t really had a chance to navigate until this year,” said Christal.

     Ferguson said Covid allowed people to show appreciation for technology.

     “I think for everybody, but definitely for us, Covid has been a time that is, on one hand, a struggle to keep up with what we can do to help, but on the other hand it forces everybody to really confront what technology can do for us and what we could be doing,” said Ferguson.

     Covid also led the library to look into buying more eBooks and audiobooks.

     “We’ve started buying more digital eBooks and audiobooks that we were reluctant to do beforehand,” said Christal.

     The pandemic has also affected reading within the classroom. ELA teacher Stephanie Robertson said quarantine left a lot of downtime.

     “There wasn’t anyone saying, ‘Give this a try,’ or ‘We want you to read this,’” said Robertson. “So, it’s hard to get kids back into the habit, I guess, of reading even just a little bit or for a little amount of time.”

     Robertson said students enjoyed reading more when they weren’t asked to dissect their book.

     “My job is to guide students or get them to learn to recognize those things on their own and understand them and get them to think about how it might impact their enjoyment of what they are reading,” said Robertson.

     Ferguson and Christal said the popular genres of books this year were fantasy and suspense.

      “I think everyone sitting at home watched a lot of true crime, and I think that a lot of those Netflix documentaries that everybody watched got everyone really thinking about suspense and crime and that sort of thing,” said Ferguson.

     Christal said fantasy was a popular genre because it allowed people to escape reality.

     “Sometimes it’s just a little much to think about the realities and conflicts going on in society,” said Ferguson. “Sometimes it’s good for mental health reasons to take a step back and go, ‘I’m going to read something that has nothing to do with my world.’ And if there’s conflict, it’s a different type of conflict.”

    Although there have been quite a few changes to the LMC, Ferguson and Christal encouraged students to read and check out books.

     “We just put out next year’s award nominees, and we definitely encourage everyone to check those out because there are some really great ones,” said Ferguson.