Four members of the My Library Is… Advisory Team will share their library stories in this panel presentation. Representing school and public libraries, the panelists will discuss how their libraries have engaged their patrons, educated their stakeholders, and expanded the reach and value of the library to their communities. A short Q&A will follow.
This is my first year at a school library. I worked at a public library for 13 years. There were always times that were more stressful and busier than others but moving to a school I have encountered a strange phenomenon that starts in March, and I am told lasts until the end of the school year when everything and everyone starts feeling the push to get things done and ends up stressed. I heard about it before it started and I thought, “that won’t happen to me.” Guess what, it did. I now feel buried both at school and at work in a way I have never experienced before.
This unprecedented year has been rough on us all. As the Assistant Director of a small public library developing and implementing dynamic children’s programming was at the forefront of brainstorms throughout my workweek. Pre-pandemic, my library staffed by five was akin to offering three-five programs a week for our community’s youth. I loved the challenge of finding new ways to engage my community’s youth in order to foster a lifelong life of learning and literacy.
Keeping students engaged with the library during the pandemic has been challenging. Over the past year as the building was closed or offered reduced hours, we haven’t been able to serve as the traditional third place where students can visit after school, gather to study, or meet for programs. However, our digital presence has remained constant and we have been able to meet many students where they are – at home.
In 2020, the Illinois Community of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) faced a new challenge: how to make members feel engaged and connected to their association and fellow members when in-person events were no longer an option. As president-elect, I was responsible for the bulk of our programming. Our most-loved events were all cancelled, including an in-person symposium, regional dine-arounds, and library tours.
When we have a message we want to share with the public, we turn to our list of what I like to think of as tools, and decide which will best help us get the word out. Depending on the message, we use a combination (or all!) of these tools: social media posts, print and electronic newsletter blurbs, flyers, bookmarks, press releases, blogs, etc. But what I think is the most important tool is probably the one that’s been around the longest… actual word of mouth.
Lake Forest Library and Lake Bluff Public Library are proud to present their joint nonfiction reading program called Read Between the Ravines. This Two Communities, One Nonfiction Book program brings together Lake Forest and Lake Bluff with the purpose of enhancing nonfiction literacy and inspiring discussion around real-world issues.
As March marches in, I can't help but think where I was a year ago--give or take a week. As I reflect upon the bustling school library I left, and the one I am currently in, I have to work hard to conjure up what was. Pandemically speaking, I (and dare I say many of my school librarian colleagues) have had to reinvent themselves and their methods very quickly. Creating virtual libraries and displays, engaging book talks, collaboratively creating protocols for curbside checkout and seamless returns have all been a part of this year long journey.
The staff at the Princeton Public Library held a New Year’s Eve Non-event fundraiser this past December. We thought it would be an apropos way to bring a laugh to the community and say goodbye to 2020.