Stocked with an assortment of books, printers, and other materials, the Godwin library provides students with resources and a place to spend time during school. The pandemic, however, has forced the library to move to a completely virtual format and to conduct all their otherwise in-person events over Microsoft Teams.
To adjust to this new setting without compromising functionality, the library has created a new virtual dashboard with links to a “Book Hub,” where students can arrange to check out physical books. An “Ask a Librarian” link was also included, so students can interact one-on-one with the librarians and receive help with specific projects, citations or book searches.
“This was a push from our library specialist. I was on a planning committee over the summer to determine what should be included on the dashboard so that students, teachers and parents could access library resources virtually,” said Godwin librarian Brooke Davis. “[Godwin librarian Suzanne Stockman and I] both took a rather involved training course to help us set the dashboard up and to help us revise our Schoology course to look like those at other high school libraries.”
The librarians have also been meeting with English and science classes across Godwin to help connect students with particular resources. One such meeting was held with science teacher Kelly Ostrom’s class.
“Ms. Davis was able to teach the information regarding the research project as she has in the past. This is very helpful for freshmen who are either transitioning to the high school expectations for research or are new to it completely. Ms. Davis teaches how students can locate resources for literature reviews, background research and the rules regarding plagiarism,” said Ostrom.
English teacher Dana Lauder also set up virtual library orientations with her sophomore classes.
“The librarians gave a really helpful overview of what is available online. The Sora feature is particularly nice, in terms of giving students access to thousands of titles. They also highlighted for the students how they can still check out “hard copies” of books from the Godwin library collection, whether for English or for any class for which they may need to conduct research,” said Lauder.
Aside from academic resources, the library also has created new student enrichment events to engage students during virtual learning.
“Mrs. Stockman and I meet each day to brainstorm ideas. We try to host at least one reading/cultural event like the one about Native American Heritage, and each week we host ‘Mindful Monday’ and ‘Lunch in the Library’ to help students connect virtually. We are trying to come up with a maker activity—like the sticker puzzle—close to holidays to offer some fun games or contests to lighten virtual learning,” said Davis.
Furthermore, the library has also focused on prioritizing the mental health of its students by hosting wellness exercises during the Common Study period. Previously in-person activities such as ‘Mindful Monday,’ where students would usually go to destress and relax, have been conducted virtually over Microsoft Teams.
“‘Mindful Mondays’ have been a little challenging since we can’t color or do relaxing crafts like in the past. Instead, I focus more on breathing techniques, guided meditation, discussions and yoga because they are possible in the virtual format,” said Davis.
The librarians have also partnered with the school counseling department to connect with students who were feeling isolated and actively have been calling parents and students as part of the re-engagement team.
However, according to Davis, the completely virtual transition for such a student interaction heavy program has been difficult.
“Attendance has been lower for ‘Mindful Monday’ than when we were in person, and that has been a little frustrating. Kids often tell me they are stressed, but are too busy to take 30 minutes to relax. We also don’t get to have the casual conversations between classes and before school like we used to. We miss you all and worry about the kids we don’t see who used to talk to us regularly!” said Davis.
According to the librarians, there was also a technological learning curve to overcome.
“At first learning all the new technology was a struggle, but now we have gotten used to it and are pretty comfortable collaborating with teachers and working with individual students. We use our Schoology course and our new dashboard to give students access to resources and help virtually,” said Davis.
Nevertheless, the librarians maintain a positive outlook for the future.
“We hope that the new dashboard and our upgraded Schoology course will continue as a means to reach students 24/7 as they have research questions or needs. We will definitely keep these new tools running as we return to in person learning,” said Davis.