Dive Brief:

  • School libraries may be closed, but librarians are continuing their work online. Jessamyn West, an educational technician who runs the librarian.net blog, shares her online library experiences with EdSurge.
  • In a fast pivot, West said libraries are looking to fill online patrons’ needs with more than just ebooks. Unfortunately, though, many facilities lack the tools to implement the change quickly. Plus, adults and students are looking for more than content; they want community, she said in a podcast, and right now, libraries are scrambling to give patrons both.
  • To respond to the sudden school closures, librarians are assembling syllabi for access to student learning materials. The problem of equal access still exists, she said, as many low-income families still lack access to the Internet.

Dive Insight:

Most academic libraries have tech-savvy staff with access to plenty of digital content. Now that many schools have closed, however, librarians are creatively finding ways to keep students in touch. Social media, such as Twitter threads, is one way to keep students engaged with their learning and their library, West said.

Even before the school shutdowns, librarians’ roles were expanding to support teachers with online learning platforms. Some librarians are encouraged to attend department meetings to keep their fingers on the pulse of school initiatives and curriculum, and to make themselves available for questions.

Librarians say they can also help teachers update lesson plans, increase student engagement and be willing to assist both students and educators about tech tools, citations and resources.

For home-schoolers, librarians can serve as a resource for parents who are looking for ways to keep their children engaged in learning at home. Librarians note that they have ample resources for home-schoolers including databases, resource kits and individualized help and tutoring. While not all resources are available digitally, many libraries are looking to move more online. 

For school leaders, librarians and media specialists can provide vital support as schools make the sudden transition to online content. Their expertise is likely more important than ever for providing professional development to teachers on digital tools as well as directing them to online resources. 

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