on “meanwhile, back at the library…”

When last we came together in this space, I was happily going about making plans to reopen my library for face-to-face service to limited numbers of students.

The world out there…

We watched with horror and empathy for our neighbors in the Pacific Northwest the Northeast as the virus raged through communities and overwhelmed their medical systems. In Hawaii we had daily counts of new COVID-19 cases of 5, 10, and on bad days a dozen new cases per day. Like much of the rest of the country, we locked down to flatten our curve. Travel to Hawaii was, basically, shut down. Rather than the roughly 33,000-35,000 passengers to the islands that arrive by air on a spring/summer day in a typical year, Hawaii was seeing in the very low hundreds of air passenger arrivals per day–most of them were thought to be residents returning home or essential workers moving to the islands.

A strangely empty Waikiki…

Meanwhile, back at the library…

We set about planning for reopening by distancing all of our furniture so that masked students could be 3 foot distanced if facing the same direction or 6 foot distanced if they were facing each other. Computers were removed from our desktop area. Tables were rearranged in our Library Classroom, and plexiglass dividers were ordered for our library tables and circ desk.

Our socially distanced desktops…
And their friends that didn’t make the cut…

After accomplishing our directive and goals, we proudly sat back and I started to rest and recharge for the start of the 20-21 school year!

The world out there…

About the time, that I started getting ready to enjoy my summer staycation (because, you know, I’m not a fool that’s going to fly to virus plagued NYC when I live on an isolated archipelago with almost no COVID and my condo has a pool…). At about this time, schools in many locales began seriously looking at 6 foot social distancing all around and REQUIRED, rather than just RECOMMENDED, masks in classrooms. I was extremely grateful that my school administration had, by then, VERY EXPLICITLY established that any return to campus would include a requirement that any child or adult on campus would be REQUIRED to wear a PPE at all times.

Our masks and shields arrived!!!

Meanwhile, back at the library…

With emerging guidance from the Hawaii Department of Health my administration took the lead in asking our reopening committee to go back to the drawing board and reconfigure all spaces on campus for 6 foot social distancing all around.

The library staff developed policies for class visits, plans for materials purchasing, plans for circulation, plans for tracking students entering the library. Our IT and ET staff helped us remove more computers, we removed more tables from our classroom space, got rid of all of the library’s “comfy” furniture, and we began rethinking ways that we might tweak delivery of services to students from K-12.

At the same time, other groups on campus worked on plans to keep students monitored at all times during the day to help them maintain safe social distancing and even more furniture (including teachers’ desks) were removed from classrooms to allow every single square inch of space to be used for social distancing in classrooms. A new schedule that might lend itself to an easier transition to virtual learning in a worst case scenario that saw us return to fully virtual instruction was developed and rolled out, and our AC units were upgraded with UV cleaning systems and higher quality filters.

The world out there…

People, for whatever reason, were growing weary of life under lockdown. As our community started to reopen from lockdown and people began to return to parks, stores, restaurants, and streets (still under a required mask mandate) little by little people just seemed to grow weary of the social distancing and masking that had kept our COVID rates so enviously low. Reports of things like huge beach parties in protected shoreline areas. A huge rock jumping contest attended my many kids without social distancing or masks. Predictably our rate of new COVID cases began to skyrocket.

From single-digit averages to not single-digit averages…

Meanwhile, back at the library…

We put the finishing touches on our direction arrows. Put down our socially distanced “stand here” dots to facilitate queuing in various areas of the library, and were pretty much ready for school to start. Just over a week out from the first day of instruction, all of the public schools and just about all of the independent schools on Oahu announced that almost everyone would be starting the school year virtually so, once again, EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED.

We’re getting our money’s worth out of our investment in our Silhouette Cameo vinyl cutting machine!
I kinda LOVE that my co-librarian, Nicole, created direction arrow decals that play off our school logo!

Meanwhile, [NOT] back at the library…

I’m writing this as we prepare to switch from Google Meet to Zoom as our online instruction platform; my co-librarian, Nicole, and I are putting together our new Library and Technology 6 class that we will be teaching for the first time; and I’m preparing to be a virtual librarian for at least the next few weeks.

Physical cues matter… (At least to me, they do…)

As I’ve worked IN my library for the last few days, one of the things I’ve come to realize is how important the physical separation of my library life and my home life is to my personal mental health, my wellbeing, and my productivity–I get SO MUCH MORE done when I am working at school. While we were on lockdown and virtual librarian-ing from home in the spring, I truly struggled to stop librarian-ing each evening so I ended up thinking about work for, what seemed like, 20 hours a day. I’ve come to realize that when I’m working in the library the physical space tells me that it is time for me to work. When I get home, the change of my physical space signals my subconscious self that it is time to stop working and be a spouse/son/uncle/friend. As we enter a new phase of virtual education, I’ve decided that I will probably try do quite a bit of my virtual work from the library if we are virtual, but not under broader shelter-in-place orders. It is just something that seems that it will work better for me.

I’ve also made the decision to take all work accounts off my personal electronic devices. When I am working, I will be on a school device and when I am using digital platforms to visit with my friends and family, I will do that on personal devices. I seem to be a person that has a brain that needs physical cues in order to switch gears.

Sometimes we can solve, but sometimes we just cope and that’s ok…

It’s really exhausting and stressful to have everything you know how to do suddenly feel null. In a PD session earlier this week, an educational psychologist that Zoomed in to work with our faculty on our own mental wellbeing asked us to differentiate between problems and dilemmas. His point, as I understood it, was that problems have solutions so we should work on finding ways to solve problems. Dilemmas, though, are part of the fabric of life. They are things, like pandemics, that we as individuals have little ability to solve based on our individual decisions or actions, so we should focus instead on how to cope with the dilemma. With dilemmas we work to mitigate the negatives, but we simply cannot look at a future need to revisit and change how we’ve tried to cope because our reality is that there are no solutions for us to suddenly find.

Finding solutions to invisibility…

One of our biggest problems when we went to emergency virtual teaching last spring was that we, as librarians, felt like we became suddenly invisible (and believe me, my colleague and I are very different by personality, but we aren’t typically people that are easily missed within our school community). One way Nicole and I are trying to make ourselves more visible to our students and teachers in our virtual environment is that we’ll be rolling out short 5 minute or less videos for teachers to show to their classes. We’re planning to try targeting teachers in different subjects depending on the topic, theme, or skill being emphasized in each video. It, honestly, feels really weird to have your face in the corner of your screencasts, but we decided that it was important for students to see our faces in order to be a visual presence as well as a voice. We hope that students will feel like they “know” us a little better over time and that will serve us well when we finally get to work with students in a 3-dimensional space.

Click here to see Nicole introducing Google News…
Click here to see me trying to explain why cake that doesn’t look like cake might be problematic…

The production values are admittedly low. I don’t want us spending too much time making things perfect and pretty so I’m trying to get over my slow talking, weird phrasing, and awkward pauses. I just want to have a way to get info lit concepts out to our kids that’s relevant, authentic to our personalities, and a little informal, without too much fussing…

On the horizon…

I talk a good game, but honestly, I’m struggling with the idea of going back to virtual learning. Here’s the thing, though, this afternoon, I realized that we actually won’t be “going back” to what we did in an instant back in March when we had to implement “emergency virtual learning.” Last spring, teachers and students just didn’t have the “bandwidth” to switch everything online AND think about incorporating library and research work into that mix.

As we move toward opening school year 2020-2021… virtually … we’ve already been approached for research lessons and support than was our pre-COVID-19 norm at the start of a year. So let’s work on moving forward with hope and let’s be kind to ourselves.

Hahaha!!! That last sentence, “So let’s work on moving forward with hope and let’s be kind to ourselves.” sounds EXACTLY like something that would be posted on the Typical EduCelebrity Twitter feed ( @educelebrity ) which is sooooo worth following!!! But sometimes what makes parody funny is that it is based in truth.

So let’s work on moving forward with hope and let’s be kind to ourselves!

Take care everyone! And Happy New School Year!!!

2 thoughts on “on “meanwhile, back at the library…”

  1. Thank you for this, Dave. It’s so helpful to hear how others are managing, and your example of switching things up on the fly is inspiring. Happy New Year to you, too!

  2. As always, Dave, reading this was a pleasure. I second Shannon’s thoughts and wanted to say kudos on the Cake, Not Cake video – love how you walked your students through your fact/ source checking process.

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