Recreate the cover

Inspired by the Getty museum’s challenge to recreate a masterpiece, I challenged my students to recreate book covers with things found in their homes while in quarantine. They could use their physical or digital talents to create a favorite cover. These recreations gave us so much joy during this reimagined school year. I love how they came out and I am excited to share each with you.

EDIT to include instructions for students:

Recreate a book cover with things from your home! Choose any book cover of your choice! The Middle School will vote on the top recreation from each grade who will earn an Amazon Gift Card!

I also offered this to 3rd and 4th grade without the gift card prize as an optional assignment. I included a “Making Of” time-lapse video of my own cover recreation and some examples I found online.


First up are the art pieces by our 3rd and 4th graders.

Be impressed by our 5th and 6th grade makers!

Now take a moment to enjoy our 7th and 8th grade creaters.

While I miss them immensely, being home has sparked a creativity bug in my students that has impressed me. My hope for the future of learning is that play and creativity are part of learning, too. Each student had to problem-solve for this activity. What would make the best recreation? Do I use myself or my sibling as a model? Do I create or reuse other objects to make the cover? Each student took the time to really think through their cover and this is what school needs to include, too.

Who Mentored You into Being?

Over the past few months so much that has defined us as librarians has changed: we’re away from our beloved libraries and schools; we’ve been placed in awkward digital spaces with our students and faculty or we’ve struggled to even find a place in the academic life of our schools; we won’t be able to have all those small conversations with our seniors to wish them well as they graduate and move on. These are just a few of the changes—large and small—in our professional lives. Lately, I’ve been spending time thinking about what makes a librarian a librarian and what exactly is at the heart of librarianship. I’m not sure I would be where I am right now, trying to make the best of my professional life in the midst of a global pandemic, without the support of my fellow librarians. The blog posts, the tweets, the advice and support on the Listserv, the shared documents, shared links, shared resources—they have all made a difference. Each and every day I find something that I’m grateful for as my AISL friends and other librarians think deeply about our profession and so willingly share their thoughts.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m feeling quite emotional and sentimental these days. I find myself thinking about mentors that I’ve had over the years that I want to reach out to and thank—not just for the practical skills I learned from them, but to let them know how important it was to me that they believed in me, and nurtured me, and inspired my own passion for the field of librarianship. In his acceptance speech for the 1997 Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award, Fred Rogers shared “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being.” These days I find myself thinking that we have all had those special people in our professional lives who have mentored us into being as librarians and for them, I am grateful.

In the first year of my MLS program at Southern Connecticut State University, Dr. Mary Brown and Debbie Herman, MLS were those people. In the mostly online program at Southern, Mary showed great compassion toward all of us and was one of the few faculty who took the time to make sure we understood program requirements. She stepped in as our de facto advisor—she just cared about us—and to say it made a difference would be an understatement. Many people in the program were able to walk at graduation because she posted deadlines on the Listserv reminding us to file paperwork and order our regalia. Even though we were all adults nearing graduation, I’m thankful someone more experienced was looking out for us, offering guidance, and making sure we made it to the finish line.

Mary did many small things that had a big impact on me as I juggled classes, a full-time job, and a family that included a college student and two high schoolers. She was an exacting professor who encouraged me to think about the courses in my plan of study, and when a paid internship to work with VOICES of 9/11 opened up, encouraged me to apply. She saw my interest in digital archiving and mentored me into positions that allowed me to grow personally and professionally. Most importantly, when an adjunct faculty position opened up to teach the Cultural Memorials and Digital Archives course, she was right there with a recommendation.    

When I was looking for an independent study placement the first summer I was in the program, Debbie Herman, Head of Electronic Resources and Information Systems (ERIS) at Central Connecticut State University, took me onboard even though her work space was being renovated. The department offices were in various stages of reconstruction, but she made a space for me when she could just as easily have said no. She put me to work on the Veterans History Project, then encouraged me to pick a special project to work on. That project, digitizing CCSU’s earliest yearbooks, was the beginning of their archival yearbook collection and my passion for making archives accessible.

Debbie had the vision to see something in me and mentored me in experiences that nurtured those interests. She trusted me enough that over the course of the next year, I was able to work with Wit Meesangnil (currently Digital Services Manager at Fordham University and one of the architects of LibWizard v2!) redesigning and conducting usability testing on CCSU’s library website. I mention these projects not to draw attention to myself, but to stress how willing Mary and Debbie were to mentor me, to make space for me to work on real-life projects and to grow into the profession. I think back to how insecure I was around people who did their jobs with ease, about my own ability to do any of these jobs well, and how crucial their belief in me was to my development as a librarian: they mentored me into being the librarian I am today and I am thankful to them both. 

So as this wild ride of a school year comes to a close, I hope we all take a few minutes to think of and perhaps reach out to those who have mentored us into being as librarians and to continue the wonderful work we all do as AISL librarians mentoring others.

What’s on Your To-Do List?

I love to-do lists. I love the feeling of organizing my brain while making a list and the satisfaction I feel while crossing items off as I go. On Fridays I usually make a weekend list, and on Monday mornings I make a list for the work week. This school year I have also been using Google Keep to make not only my weekly lists, but also my broader, to-do at some point lists, and narrow lists for particular projects and collaborations. I love Google Keep, and I am trying to use it to keep track of much of my work life, although I also have a spiral bound notebook on my desk during remote learning for new items that come up. Again, I love lists.

My home workspace

But the list I keep finding myself working on now is my summer goals list. I don’t really have to work during the summer, but of course I always do. I plan, order materials, design orientations, and improve access to resources. I make lists. But what to do this unusual summer? I don’t even know what will be happening in the fall. Do I order print books? Invest more in databases?  Here are some broad goals from my Google Keep lists to share with you.

  1. Watch the AISL zoom meetings that I missed in person. I always get a couple items from my lists at those!
  2. Learn to use the library sewing machine. We bought a sewing machine a few years ago and the kids sometimes use it for small projects. Our library assistant knows how to use it but I never learned. Now may be my moment, so I brought it home. This is a goal really for myself, as I really don’t know if kids will be coming in to use our maker tools in the next academic year. But it gives me time to get really good at it!
  3. Learn to make better instructional videos and brand them. Camtasia has a template feature which makes it really easy to add intros and brand elements to all your videos. I want to do that and make the library YouTube channel full of (better) help videos to insert into LibGuides.
  4. Once again, I need to reorganize my LibGuides, maybe even adding something like LibAnswers for chat reference. This time, the reorganization could better highlight my new fabulous videos, but also highlight our online resources and how to use them in remote learning more easily. 
  5. Work with my team to make processes for a potential reopening. This is already happening, but we don’t know when it will be implemented. We have been gathering resources – more lists!

What are your goals for this summer? What is on your list?

Closing the Distance with Fine Arts Week

Art by Lily Stankowski (AOS class of 2020).

In a time of quarantine, people are starving for stimulation and connection. A feeling of ennui can overshadow us, and a sense of isolation can harm bonds within communities. Our school found a way to reach out to our community and close the distance through a virtual celebration of Fine Arts. Why are Fine Arts so vital to a school community? A university art professor once explained to me that to better understand aesthetics, consider the opposite, anaesthetics.  Anaesthetics deaden the senses, while aesthetics awaken the senses. We can use Fine Arts to shake us from our deflated moods, enliven our sensibilities, and strengthen a feeling of connectedness. 

Each year, our Fine Arts week includes music, choral, and drama performances, and the library contributes by hosting a Poetry Slam that showcases creative writing pieces selected for our Literary Magazine. Faced with school closure and Distance Learning, our Fine Arts week was
“Reimagined” through a series of digital portals to sample Fine Arts offerings. Here is an example menu of items for our community to sample:

Several digital tools were used to feature daily events:

  • FlipGrid–a free resource for educators, curated individual student videos for both the Poetry Slam and Pop Up Performances. The individual videos were assembled in interactive grids so that families could sample performances.
  • A digital Flipbook software converted the pdf of our Literary Magazine into an interactive view of the featured writing and art.
  • Vidigami was used to create a virtual art gallery, with folders of artwork sorted by grade level.
  • Spotify playlists provided music for students to enjoy during breaks in their school day.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro was used to set up grid views of multiple video clips, so that choral students were able to be heard singing individual parts in unison. 
  • Recordings of student theater productions became encore performances that families could view to enjoy memorable moments from our school musicals and one-act play.

Range of Ages, Cultures, and Voices

Seeing the range of talent from grades K-8 was heartwarming.  In the Virtual Art Gallery, a Kindergartener’s colorful collage sparked joy while colorful landscapes by 7th and 8th graders evoked moods of calm in a field of flowers or sunsets or celebrated the power of nature in vibrant scenes of mountains and seascapes. Popup performances showcased the enthusiastic talents of young pianists as well as displaying the astounding musical prowess of an 8th graders’ rendition of Hadyn’s Sonata. Families and cultures were also featured as a trio of siblings sang a Broadway tune and an 8th grader, her mother, and grandmother performed the Bharatanatyam in a split-screen view. Choral performances were synced in a grid view so that individual voices sang in unison. In the virtual Poetry Slam, a range of student voices were on display: whether travel writing (sharing the excitement of a trip to New York or cultural connections with families in Greece or India); nature writing (sharing the curious wonders of the Bayou); science writing (celebrating the discoveries made possible by the Hubble Telescope); fantasy (a shrinking curse plagues the royal members of a castle); science fiction (unknown terrors lurking in a trip through the Bermuda Triangle); or through personal essays (do you identify yourself with Gen Z or as a sixty-year-old man?). Musicals lit up computer screens in the evening as families gathered to watch videos of student musicals.

Art by Alexandra Madrid (AOS class of 2020).

Closing the Distance

This time of social distancing provokes a range of concerns. Some thoughts expressed in Zines by 7th graders described the sense of living in a “Backwards World,” the strange sensation of attending school on a computer screen and dreading the long summer, rather than looking forward to it. One student mentioned the mundane repetitiveness of life, that life is without “flare,”  while another student expressed a sense of  longing–she could “see” her friends in GoogleMeet, but had to “mask” her sense of loneliness. Our Fine Arts Week was an opportunity for students and families to experience how art in all its forms can close the distance, stir the emotions, celebrate our creativity, and affirm that we are a community that can connect, even in times of isolation.

Night at the Library: A Look Back at Middle School Programming

A post about in-library programming may seem incongruous with the times– after all, many of us have been away from our school libraries for weeks, with no clear timeline of when things will be returning to ‘normal’ again. We have all had to adjust to the changing realities of remote learning and the role of the library within this new paradigm, diving headfirst into the world of zoom read-alouds, digital office hours, online readers advisory, and distance-learning classroom support. Yet, in the midst of what is certainly an unprecedented season in education and librarianship, it is important to remind ourselves that this situation is not permanent. In the (hopefully) not so distant future, we will once again find ourselves supporting students face-to-face, with the opportunities that Covid-19 required us to shelve finally allowed room to grow. 

In light of this, I’d like to share about an event that our library hosted for the Middle School students this past year. This post was originally written before the virus hit, and while the context in which I’m now sharing it has changed, it still offers some fun ideas for fostering a dynamic reading culture among students. I hope that it serves both as a reminder of the positive role of school libraries in the lives of young readers, as well as an encouragement to us all to keep looking forward with hope and creativity as we imagine new possibilities for the times that lie ahead.

This fall at Crescent School, an all-boys school in Toronto, the library team hosted a special evening to celebrate reading and encourage our Middle School students to get invested in their library. The event– which we dubbed “Night at the Library”– didn’t have a particular theme, as we chose instead to do a mix of activities that boys with varied reading interests could enjoy.

The event was a success– over twenty students joined us after school on a Friday to connect over their shared love of reading, and to build meaningful memories together in the library space. To help encourage participation, students were able to accumulate points throughout the evening that would earn them tickets for a raffle (the prizes were books– no surprise there!). We also encouraged students to bring donations for The Children’s Book Bank, spreading the literary love with an amazing Toronto charity.

The event was organized and facilitated by three library staff members, with help from one of our grade 11 students. Our program was a jam-packed four and a half hours that featured seven different stations.

DDC Decoding Mystery

For this challenge students worked in teams of 4-5 to decode a secret message taken from a book in the library. Each part of the message had a corresponding code that students matched to a particular book, page, line, and word. Having students search first for specific books– using the DDC call numbers– helped to familiarize them with the difference between fiction and non-fiction, as well as the different categories that we use to organize our stacks. We used books from all ranges so that students would have to hunt through areas they might be less familiar with, which turned out to be a fun and effective method (some students even pulled off a few books to check out after the event!). 

Butterbeer Station

This station gave students the chance to make their own butterbeer, and it was a huge (and very sweet!) success. There are loads of recipes online that try to mimic the popular beverage from the world of Harry Potter, but we decided to keep it relatively simple with cream soda, caramel sauce, and whipped topping. Students took turns mixing their own ingredients together, and it was so popular that most students came back for seconds (or thirds) throughout the evening.

Book-Themed Buffet

Children’s books are full of descriptions of food and drinks, and we decided early on that we wanted to use some of those recipes for the evening meal. Two weeks before the event, we met with a handful of participants to ask them what foods they could think of from some of their favourite books, and we built the menu around their suggestions (everything from pizza to pickles to pork dumplings!).

Best Book Bracket

Before “Night at the Library” began, students were sent a flyer with details outlining how they could prepare for the event. One of the things we asked them to do was to choose a favourite children’s story to champion in a ‘battle of the books’ tournament. We had two students at a time face off against each other, with 30 seconds each to argue why theirs was the best book. The other participants voted on who moved on to the next round, until a winner could be crowned. It was a great chance for students to share their recommendations, and a lot of them left with additions to their own ‘To-Read’ lists! 

Author Call

Another highlight of the evening was a skype call with Canadian children’s author Susin Neilsen. We hooked up the computer to a big screen in the library, and students took turns coming forward to speak into the camera. Before the event we gave students the link to Neilsen’s website so that they could learn more about her work, and they were also given copies of her books to read in preparation for the call. While not everyone spoke up, there were a number of thoughtful questions from the audience which Neilsen kindly answered.


Our final event gave students a chance to burn off the energy they’d built up from all the evening’s treats (including a chocolate fountain á-la Willy Wonka, and some Narnia-inspired turkish delight!). And what better way to finish off “Night at the Library” than with a game of Quidditch? Although we couldn’t get our hands on any flying brooms or magical snitches, we did have a local Quidditch team come and teach us the rules of the game. Even though some participants hadn’t read the Harry Potter series, the excellent coaching and the enthusiasm of the players made for a hysterically fun game for all. 

One of the main goals of “Night at the Library” was to promote a love of reading in the school community. By providing a space for our students to gather together and experience a wide range of literary themed activities, students had a chance to celebrate their passion for books in a way that encouraged them to want to read further, while also learning more about the resources that their library has to offer.

Getting it Together

I admit I’ve struggled thinking about what to write for this, my April post. I am grateful to Shelagh and Reba for figuring it out ahead of me and articulating well what I maybe felt too vulnerable to say. I don’t really feel like a librarian much these days. What this experience has thrown into high relief for me as a worker and an educator is how much of our work in normal times is around the edges; the casual or serendipitous interactions with students that allow us to build relationships and serve them best, and which don’t require the extra thought or step of deliberately seeking out and clicking on a Zoom link. 

We make ourselves available with online office/library hours, we provide access to digital resources and tutorials for using them, and we reach out to teachers to provide research support. However, we’re not there to make light conversation with a student struggling with a printer, writing them a late pass because the infernal machine is jammed. We’re not there to see a student wandering the stacks and, after a few minutes of leaving them to their browsing, offering assistance and reminding them about the online catalog. Maybe we’re available just for a chat, but not at random times, and not without someone taking a step, showing that vulnerability, and logging in to see us.

So I have been trying to find ways to be in the places around the edges; being present in student-led online meetings and events, making announcements as often as possible, “liking” the Class of 2020 Instagram posts from the library account, sending emails promoting databases and ebooks. I’ve been grabbing at those chances to do the work of a librarian; holding reading celebrations, and answering the few reference question emails I receive from students while practically begging them to schedule a research meeting. With so much emphasis on digital resources, 24/7 access, the importance of the online library presence, etc., I never realized how hard it would be to be a librarian without a library. There’s more I could be doing, but I am also a member of the school-age-kids-at-home-while-I’m-trying-to-be-working chorus. Also, it will do no good to add to the information overload everyone is feeling. I don’t really want any more emails about distance learning resources, frankly, and I don’t think I’m alone.

While I am feeling a little at sea, I know some students are too, BUT, they are also still doing amazing things and engaging with the present moment in relevant, social justice-oriented ways. Last week, we saw a student-led presentation on COVID-19 and xenophobia, for example. Our GSA still celebrated the GLSEN Day of Silence and held a virtual dance party that was surprisingly fun. If they can get it together and carry on their personal missions, I can too! They act as an anchor for me, and I majorly owe it to them to do so in return.

I realize that at this moment it is a kind of privilege to be able to quietly ponder my professional identity from my dining room office, but I suppose there are bigger questions there, all tied up with our current state of general uncertainty. One thing I’ve been trying to do these last weeks is attend to the purchased and nearly forgotten unread books on my own home shelves. How excited was I, after reading Shelagh’s post last week, to find this in the bookcase? You’d better believe that it went to the top of the pile pretty quickly. Thank you!

Verily vulnerable

I can’t be the only librarian who follows the work of Brene Brown, particularly her study of vulnerability. Under normal circumstances, I would say that I embrace being vulnerable, but these are not normal circumstances, and it seems glaringly obvious to me now that I’ve not been walking my talk. 

The transition to e-learning and working from home has made me feel particularly vulnerable in a few ways that challenge me. From silly to serious, here are some thoughts:

My online appearance

As in awe as I am of those of you who look so polished when I meet you at conferences, I’m just not that kind of gal. However, whether it’s the lighting or the paint colour in my storage room home office, I’d been feeling (and therefore acting) kind of schlumpy, even though I continue to dress as I would for school – likely because it’s not the clothing that’s mostly showing up on screen (although perhaps not in this case). I am now paying a bit more attention to my hair and actually putting on some mascara and lip colour before opening up the virtual library for the day. Taking these extra 3 minutes makes a positive difference in how I look, and therefore feel – who knew?! (all of you, I’m sure…I’m keenly aware that I’m late to this party)

Parental engagement

Like many of you, I love having parents engaged in the life of the school but it’s a bit unnerving having them actually in the classroom. At the end of a recent AP Research class, the mom of one of my students leaned into the video to say hi – so lovely but so unexpected. Once the gerbil wheel of panicked thoughts (was she there the whole time? what did I say today? how did I sound? I often joke with my kids – did my informality come across as unprofessional?) finally slowed down, I realized that it can only be good for me to teach all the time as if a parent is in the room.

The future

I love working at an independent school, where my job depends upon how well I support students and staff; I think the accountability helps to keep faculty engaged and evolving in how best to serve students and families.

Of course this means is that my position is inexorably linked to pandemic / economic-affected admissions; I assume this is the case for many of you as well. The B side to my anxiety about the virus has been concern about what September looks like. I feel valued and supported at my school but I don’t teach math (my slightly-in-jest litmus test of all things necessary). While our virtual library has been steadily busy in the online environment (me being available during the academic day in a Google Meet link for research support & readers’ advisory, as well as visiting virtual classes for instruction), I feel that what I offer to the school is not as obvious as it was on campus. This knot of concern was fairly debilitating for the first few weeks but through much100 walking, I’ve been trying to park it in the land of things-I-cannot-control, and focus on the here and now. Where I am healthy and employed and have much to be grateful for.

Brene tells us that vulnerability is showing up and being seen. Well done you (and me), for doing this each and every day.

What’s Working and What Isn’t: Coronavirus Edition

I am a big proponent of experimenting with library programming and services, as failures can teach just as much as successes. In terms of trying new things, nothing has changed with emergency remote learning. Some things work…and some things don’t.

Let’s start with the Good Stuff:

  1. Making screencasts for teachers for specific research needs has been successful using Screencastify.
  2. Creating a Remote Action Plan for the library and communicating it with Administration has been essential. It has cut down on confusion from Admin “what are you really doing from home” and with my Library Clerk “but what should I do from home?”
  3. Offering a link on our OPAC for appointments to do research, find a book, or just chat allows the students to choose how they want contact while we are in the midst of Emergency Remote Learning. I’ve found that I’ve had far more requests to just chat, honestly.
  4. Reaching out to those “library kids” to find out if they want to hang out during lunch in a Google Meet. It’s completely voluntary and has grown over the weeks through word of mouth and our school’s weekly newsletter.
  5. Channeling those librarians on horseback during the Great Depression and delivering books to students…but in my Subaru.
  6. Holding a Library and Tech Dept “coffee break” for faculty and staff who want to see familiar faces. I honestly did not expect anyone to show up, but I have been so surprised at who drops by to just talk about everything and anything.

Aaaaand, here’s the stuff that sounded really good in theory but didn’t work out so well:

  1. Scavenger Hunt and Baking Contest – Yeah, the kids just weren’t interested. With everything else they are doing for school, at home, etc., they didn’t want anything else to do. It was also really hard to get ingredients, and if a student was able to get ingredients, it was hard to keep their family members from eating it before the “judging.”
  2. Open library hours – No one showed up. It seems the students would rather schedule individual meetings at specific times.
  3. Expecting students to remember how to do things we’ve discussed 1,000 times while sheltering at home. Let’s face it, no one’s brain is working the same right now.
  4. The perfect work space – Hahaha, really? I don’t know about you, but I keep shifting all over the house trying to find the perfect combination of comfort, WiFi, light, and less distractions between my husband working from home, my daughter’s online schooling, and my DOG.
  5. A work day just like being at school – I can hardly type this while keeping a straight face. Thinking I would have a regimented and organized work day with online learning was a pipe dream. Between virtual meetings, webinars, etc., I’ve decided that I’m simply going to work when I can, BUT making sure I do have an “end” to my work day. I certainly struggled with this during those first weeks thinking I needed to be connected to my computer 24/7 in order to meet the needs of my school community.
  6. Sleeping – Please tell me I am not the only one having trouble with this. Let me know if you’ve got any tried-and-true tips!

I think the hardest part about working from home while sheltering in place is that some days are amazing and I feel totally accomplished, while the very next day finds me staring out the window just wishing I could use my best “library bouncer” voice to remind kids they can’t run in the library. (You know which ones I’m talking about.) The reality is, this is what we do. We adjust, we change, and we pivot to make sure we are providing the necessary services for our patrons. We can do this!

SIFTing the news

I’ll admit I have found myself a tad… envious of those of you who find yourselves in high demand in this shift to remote learning. We have had a few teachers doing research work, and students are still coming for (Zoom) research appointments, but our (new) chat reference has been *crickets*, and it has been harder to collaborate than when I could chat with someone in the dining hall or on the way to assembly. 

I also miss seeing students! We’ve had some luck with virtual programs (including a group that is really, really into virtual bingo). But it is, as you all know, just not the same.

One group I have seen more of, however, is parents. Back in the Before Times I had been talking with our Director of Parent Programming and our Parent Association about doing a news literacy workshop for parents. With the US Presidential election on the horizon there seemed to be a lot of parent interest in learning how to be savvier news consumers – and the coronavirus pandemic has only upped the stakes. So when I was asked if I wanted to try presenting in our new online lives, I jumped at the chance.

I typically prefer to do things like this in a workshop-style, with people having the chance to follow along and try strategies as I demonstrate them. However, given that I couldn’t guarantee that people would have two devices at the fingertips (one to watch me on and one to work on) I decided on doing a presentation rather than a workshop. I’m also new to teaching on Zoom – and parents are new to learning on Zoom – so simplicity seemed ideal.

I used the materials from the Check, Please! Starter Course as my inspiration and my foundation and built a LibGuide to walk folks through the SIFT process: Stop, Investigate the Source, Find Trusted Coverage, and Trace Claims and Quotes. I love the SIFT model for its simplicity and its flexibility. There is room for nuance and complexity around all four moves, but they are also easy for a novice to understand and work with – and they’re adaptable to multiple kinds of sources and different kinds of (intentional and unintentional) misinformation.

I presented it to a group of parents last Wednesday. I still don’t love presenting to a group of people on mute, but luckily one of my colleagues is also a current parent and I could see her smiling and nodding in all the right places. Getting that little bit of visual affirmation certainly helped!

This was a great way to connect with the parent community to share the value of the library and our curriculum – and a good way to make my program visible when we’re all socially distant. I”m hoping to expand on it when we can meet face-to-face again!

This Moment in Time

I work at a boarding school (9-12) in northeastern, Connecticut. Thankfully our county (Windham) has the lowest incidence of Covid-19 in the state (page 2 of this document). Indeed, if you look on the map, we’re an island of relative safety surrounded by many counties that have it far worse. My wife works in homecare health but is not a front line responder. Still, her proximity to that sector makes us acutely aware of what factors are at play regardarding the importance of the #stayathome orders. These are strange times for everyone! For us who are accustomed to both managing an active physical space and having an institutional educational mandate, it is perhaps even more jarring. It is for me, I know. I find myself frequently wondering where and how to be of the greatest benefit to our community. In addition to my library work, I’ve offered to help students as a writing tutor, and I am as invested in my advisees as I’ve ever been. I’ve also found myself being a proctor for my own kids – a 2nd and 7th grader. It’s a lot. 

Our school made the decision to do distance learning just before our students left for spring break in mid-March. At some point in late March, it was decided to extend that directive through the end of the school year. Like most (if not all) of you, we’ve been working remotely since then. I’ve had my fair share of Zoom meetings and been on the receiving end of many a “what’s a librarian do now?” questions. I don’t need to tell you what we do. You’re living it.

Our AISL listserv has perhaps never been as active – or as helpful – as it has been in the last – has it only been 6 weeks?! I tip my virtual hat to all of you who have been sharing ideas, videos, links, recorded Zoom conferences, LibGuides, and empathetic commiserations. And while there are the ‘frequent flyers’ who post regularly, there are many of us – me included – who are the creepers. We soak up the information so readily shared. I know that I often think about chiming in, but by the time I see the note, the question has been answered – often a few times – with great insight and supporting links or materials. I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be half the librarian I am without standing on your proverbial shoulders. (Though at 6’3, I would still be tall by most librarian measures.) 

AISL Height Survey

One of the things I’ve been doing is trying to keep the library relevant and present. This – as we know – is not an easy task when the library is shuttered and, as is the case with our boarding community, students are scattered all over the globe. With the help – and permission – of my virtual peers (Thanks, Nancy Florio!), I’ve created POLaR (Pomfret Online Learning and Resources), a LibGuide meant to house and organize ideas and best practices. It’s still a work in progress (aren’t we all?), and it’s not yet gotten the traffic that it deserves. However, I know that it will serve as a beneficial repository of information. We’re adding to it each week and hope to adapt it to our needs – current and future.  And these days, who knows what the future will look like? Stay Safe!

And…Congratulations to Sandy Gray on the well deserved Marky Award!