The Virtual Heartbeat Is Your School Library

The relevant school library undertaking on everyone’s mind right now is distance library learning. How do you provide resources, assistance, and information to our students and teachers from afar? The state of our global community has plunged us all into a new learning curve right now. The following is my plan to make the most out of what we have available to us right now if we are forced into a long-term distance learning situation.

Start with What I Have

To start,  I looked at my personalized learning programs for students. I’m thinking about ways that I can continue those programs from a distance.

  •  I will continue my personal book shopper program, but instead of a stack of books I will e-mail each student a list of books that I think they might enjoy.  
  • Personalized research appointments will continue, but instead of a physical meeting I will send the student a link to a Google Hangout at a time we agree upon together.

Next, I’m thinking about staff needs. I am always available through e-mail, but thinking about how I would teach classes research or book talk skills became challenging. My rough plan is as follows:

  • Research lessons or database introductions will be recorded using Screencastify and shared with staff, who can then share them with students via Google Classroom or our district learning management system. 
  • Book talks will be recorded using WeVideo. I have a YouTube Channel that I created previously for virtual book talks that I will now update based on what teachers or students tell me they need. 
  • Read-alouds for my RISE and STRIVE classrooms using Google Hangouts. These classes are our students with severe physical and cognitive impairments. They are smaller classes of only about 10 students so Google Hangouts will give me a chance to interact with them virtually, read aloud to them, and still keep our weekly routines. 

What I Need More Of

For most of us our yearly budget for library resources is spent or nearly spent as we approach the last few months of school. I have never had a very large interest in e-books from students or staff. Only about 1% of my collection is currently digital. Mostly due to the fact that my students prefer to hold the actual book. I also have a small collection of Lightbox interactive e-books from Follett, but not in every content area. As I prepare for the possibility of the long haul in distance library learning I will do the following.

  • Purchase more e-book titles
  • Create additional Lightbox Interactive e-book activities to show staff and students how to use them
  • Look into purchasing digital infinity access titles of books that are in our curriculum.  

Looking Ahead

The personal relationships that we are able to build while assisting all students and staff has always been my favorite part of what we as librarians do. For now, the way that we help our buildings will need to change, but we can still maintain our presence. The virtual school library may be different, but it still carries the same heartbeat and pulse to our school communities. 


Author: Elizabeth Libberton

Elizabeth Libberton is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the ALA Awards Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the steering committee for the AISLE Lincoln Book Award.

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.