“My school library is a safe space for me to be my most creative and authentic self! I miss it so much,” said McEachern High School senior, Jasmine Duffy.
School library media specialists knew students, like Jasmine, would miss the programming and relationships established in their library learning commons during the shift to digital learning.
Joining their fellow educators across Cobb Schools, they quickly shifted to support students’ academic, creative, and social needs. Virtual book clubs, like the one created by McEachern’s media specialist Susan Buckert, are examples of how Cobb students are staying connected and engaged despite school schools being closed.
“I participated in the virtual book club because I missed my club family,” Jasmine added. “Mrs. Curtis (library media parapro) and Mrs. Buckert (library media specialist) are some pretty inspiring people.”
As schools prepared to close on March 13, library media specialists lifted limits on library book checkouts so students could take home almost as many books as they could carry. In fact, Susan McCurry, the library media specialist for King Springs Elementary School, coordinated 2,543 book checkouts in one day! District-wide, students checked out 41,853 items from Cobb’s library learning commons on March 13.
“Library media specialists are problem-solvers, resource providers, literacy experts, and technology masters. The way they have supported students, teachers, families, and administrators during this rapid shift to digital learning is amazing,” said Holly Frilot, Supervisor of Library Media Education. “From student-run news productions and online storytime to research guidance and writing support to instructional collaboration with teachers, library media specialists provide opportunities for students to feel connected, supported, and engaged.”
Knowing that print books would only last so long, library media specialists were eager to continue getting books to students through e-book and e-audiobook provider, Sora, a resource in Cobb Digital Library. Hundreds of e-books have been added to the digital collection in recent weeks.
“During our first three weeks of digital learning days, 4,360 eBooks and audiobooks were checked out throughout the district in Sora,” Frilot explained. “The previous three weeks: 961. That’s a 354% increase!”
Cobb’s library media specialists have also been busy supporting the daily technology needs of Cobb’s 8,000+ teachers and 112,000+ students. Masterful curators, library media specialists help teachers find the right digital tool to fit the needs of a content standard or lesson plan. Through virtual meetings, instructional collaboration continues as library media specialists work with teachers to create digital lessons using Nearpod, BrainPOP, Flipgrid, and more online resources in the Cobb Digital Library.
April is National School Library Month, a time to celebrate school library media specialists and the programs they create. This April, library media specialists, like classroom teachers around the world, found themselves pivoting to embrace and assist in these unprecedented weeks of school closure. Their expertise has calmly guided many through the shift to digital learning, focused on being One Team, One Goal: Student Success.
“During this time has been hard on everyone especially students; but I know I can count on the teachers and the faculty staff at North Cobb to help me, Especially Ms.Wheeler, the librarian. She always check in on me to make sure I’m ok or if i need anything,” praised North Cobb sophomore Joniel Lewis. “During this time she helped me with paper for my Lit class. I was struggling on the paper and needed a different point of view. I ask her to help and she was happy to help. She called me read through my whole paper with me; Plus, she gave me some pointers for the future. I’m thankful that Ms. Wheeler took time out of her day to help me and it was nice to talk to someone.”