How school libraries will look like after Covid-19?: a preliminary approach to new policies

Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise

Tacitus

All of a sudden, most school libraries around the world closed their doors due to Covid-19. As it’s an unknown virus, there’s so much informal and fake information going around while scientists are researching ways to protect us. However, as librarians, we should begin to think about coming back to our schools and reopening our libraries.

Libraries have an important role during this crisis, mentioned Kathelyn Attanasio on ‘Library Journal’, people usually associate them with lending books but it’s not all that we do. Librarians can impact their schools introducing hi-top technology, and offering remote services to support their patron needs. I believe a school library is a place continuously changing and adapting to the curriculum of the school and technology innovations. 

Karen Pundsack, Director of the Great River Library System was interviewed by Allister Chang, sharing her experience during a disaster. Mrs. Pundsack considers RESILIENCE and ADAPTABILITY as attributes of libraries. These are the moments, in which we should reflect on our services, analyze strengths and weaknesses, and begin again. 

Coming back….soon:

Last 3 weeks, I’m thinking about coming back to the library. How the school will look like? How the library will look like? We cannot pretend that we will come back to what it was before. I’m following on Twitter (Thanks PLN!) the experience of teachers in South East Asia coming back to their schools. People are generous in sharing their school policies, pictures, thoughts. Indeed, we are all watching them… and learning. 

School libraries will reopen when the government of the country allows schools to start again. However, local governments also approve the safety of the schools’area to restart activities. School policies will be the umbrella of the library’s new policies.

Moreover, I started to research librarianship journals and associations to figure out how it will look like. Based on the bibliography revised, I consider the following points as a part of the new policies for schools libraries:

For the library staff:



Hygiene
– Promote regular handwash (every hour)
– Use of disposable masks & gloves
– Use of personal protection equipment (if required)
– Push bottoms/door handles and openers with elbow
– Hand sanitizers with dispenser at the entrance of the library and restrooms
-Hand sanitizer with dispenser for touch-screens and desktops
– A plexiglass spit protection at the circulation counter
– Immediately disinfection of areas used by patrons (tables, chairs, etc.) after they leave and before another came in. Avoid sharing equipment or stationary.
Access control
– Distance 1.5 – 2.0 mt.Decide areas to be open/closed
– Entrance and Exit door if possible separated.
– One-way regulations with barrier tape
– Avoid queues
– Spacers glued to the floor at suggested distance
Services
– Promote online reference servicesAdjust opening time according to the needs of the school community and availability of the staff
– No use of ID cards for circulation purposes
– No events (promote online events)
– Closure of areas of common areas/collaborative activities like maker spaces, board games, VR/AR equipment.
– Avoid any activity in which patrons share items.
– Promote research skills, identification of fake information, and veracity of sources on the web and social media.
– Promote self-checkout systems.
Collection
– Quarantine check-in resources as follows:
Paper: 24 hours
Plastic: 72 hours
– Create areas for quarantined collection (add the date of reception)
– Clean resources avoiding chemicals that will damage them.
– Any resource used by the patron inside of the library should be kept on a table for cleaning and quarantine.
Communication
– Inform your community about changes in the library services.
– Display informative posters about new library regulations and hygiene

For patrons:



Hygiene
– Use disposable masksUse hand sanitizer (before/after entering the library/restrooms/ touching items)
– Don’t share stationary/equipment
Access control
– Follow instructions about the number of patrons inside of the library and/or services closed.
– Follow instructions related to entrance and exit doors
– Avoid queues, follow spacers glued on the floor (entrance, restrooms & circulation desk)
Services
– Online reference (students, teachers, parents)
– Online library catalog to access to e-resources
– Use of online databases
-Online training sessions (personal, group)
– Access to self-checkout services

I have created a Wakelet with a selection of consulted resources. It’s work in progress, I will continue adding information to the collection. 

Access here to the collection: https://wke.lt/w/s/Bk62mV

Challenges:

I think we will face many challenges. Time will let us know but I can mention some of them:

  • Use of AC on tropical weather countries
  • Carpets
  • Other special materials
  • Preservation of the collection
  • New policies to develop collections

This crisis is showing our vulnerability at the library and our resilience to serve our communities. Let’s share our ideas and learn from each other!

5 thoughts on “How school libraries will look like after Covid-19?: a preliminary approach to new policies

  1. Thank you Liliana for a super informative post and for sharing Wakelet.
    I will definitely refer to your post in my school.

    Kind regards

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