CULLMAN, Ala. – What do you do when students can’t come to the library? Well, you bring the library to them.
That’s been the plan at East Elementary School this school year, as the regular student visits to the library have been limited due to an abundance of caution with the new COVID-19 safety protocols in place for 2020. With students now unable to head to the school’s library to roam the stacks themselves, Library Media Specialist Savannah Wood worked with teachers to take her “show” on the road with a mobile library cart.
“Instead of all the kids coming to me, I go into the classrooms now with a library book-mobile,” Wood explained. “We’ve decorated it really cute and made it just as fun as possible. They get so excited when they hear it coming down the hall now, and it’s just been a great, new way to keep kids excited about reading.”
Wood explained she stays in touch with teachers about what their students are learning about, and what they’re interested in, so she can curate a selection to bring them in the classroom so everyone can still pick out a new book.
“We’re really trying to cater to the kids this year and keep it as normal as possible,” she said. “And if I happen to not have the book with me, I’ll run back and get it so everyone can have a chance to get what they’re excited to read. We’re so thankful we’re able to even do book checkouts this year and make sure students are still able to discover new books and stay engaged.”
Along with checkouts, Wood has also worked out a schedule to bring her usual library lessons to the classrooms — so students are still being taught things like digital citizenship and computer skills. It’s just happening in the classroom, as opposed to the library. One recent lesson plan has focused on the election, with students voting to choose a fictional character as “president” of the library — the race came down to Harry Potter and Dog Man (if you’re curious, Wood said Potter looks to be the clear favorite in early exit polls).
“I go class by class each week and teach a lesson, and we’ve been able to do more computer science learning just out of necessity, but it’s been really great,” Wood said. “Kids are so resilient, and this has been a great way to put a new spin on something they know and love, to keep it fun and exciting for this school year.”
The past few weeks brought the most unique challenge yet for the library in 2020: the annual book fair. Wood said that instead of hosting a more open book fair with several classes together at once in the library, they staggered the classes in pods and cleaned the library between each group.
“We reworked the entire schedule since we can’t mingle classes,” she explained. “It was a lot of work, but really worked out well. Kids look forward to it so much, we just knew we had to figure out a way to make it work — and we did!”
Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Patterson said she was so proud to see the library and media staff get creative for 2020.
“It just shows the creativity and resilience of our educators and staff, to innovate and ensure the library program is able to keep serving students, and finding new and exciting ways to do it,” she said.