“Librarians are here to help you.”
Schools are closed. Libraries are closed. And yet, peoples’ information needs haven’t gone away. If anything, students in particular need more information than ever. And with the rafts of misinformation floating around online, information professionals are more needed than ever.
New Jersey’s librarians recognized this need. Working together, the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) and the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) created a virtual library. Dubbed “The Library Is Open,” this online space is focused primarily on serving the needs of K-12 students, along with educators, administrators, and parents.
This portal provides users with a variety of useful curated resources. All of the resources listed are available for free to most or all New Jersey residents.
The “Reading” section includes descriptions of, and links to, various apps and services that provide e-book and audiobooks. Also included is NoveList, a program that helps users find the perfect title for their next read.
The “References” section includes information about a variety of EBSCO tools, which are available for free to all New Jersey residents. Offerings include Explora Primary (Grades K-5), Middle Search Plus (Grades 5-8), and Academic Search Premier (Grades 9-12+). There are also links for Reference Latina, the Spanish-language database, as well as Literary Reference Center and MasterFILE Elite.
“Language Learning” offers all-ages opportunities to learn world languages. Rosetta Stone is available to all New Jersey residents, and Mango Languages is available through many local public libraries.
And the site does not neglect the possibilities of multimedia. “Videos” reminds visitors that the Kanopy video streaming service is available through many local public libraries’ websites. Kanopy provides lots of documentaries, the Great Courses, BBC titles, and many independent and art house films.
“Have a question?”
There is also a “Tutoring” section. Here, patrons find links to Brainfuse and Tutor.com, which can be accessed through many local public libraries.
Most impressive, however, is that the page features a live chat feature. Staffed by certified librarians, virtual patrons can pose questions Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. And if patrons miss those open hours, they can leave a question and a librarian will get back to them.
This portal is an outgrowth of advocacy efforts. NJASL and NJLA have created a task force on school libraries to provide administrators, school boards, and other stakeholders with accurate, reputable information about the importance of school librarians for student success.
“The Library Is Open” is an outstanding example of how libraries and librarians, particularly school libraries, are a #NecessityNotALuxury! You can check it out for yourself at https://unlockstudentpotential.org/index.php/library-is-open/.
Many state associations and individual school librarians are coming up with creative ways to serve their students. Seen something neat? Share it in the comments!
Author: Steve Tetreault
Steve has been teaching middle school English for 20 years, has several degrees in education, and recently finished his last semester as a school library media specialist student. He is certified as a teacher, school library media specialist, supervisor, and administrator. He is an old dog constantly learning new tricks!