Students on the Coastside haven’t perused the shelves at their respective school libraries for many months. But the Cabrillo Unified School District’s school libraries are finding ways to keep students turning pages.
With varying degrees of accessibility, the libraries are adapting to the changing times and are still helping students find books and resources for school assignments.
Half Moon Bay High School librarian Jill Smith said part of her job now is IT work. Along with managing book checkouts, she tracks inventory, and repairs, sanitizes and distributes Chromebooks. While students can’t meet at the library anymore, they can plan with Smith to swap broken Chromebooks, pick up art supplies, lab kits, textbooks and novels.
Smith said the district is working on a few online applications that will allow all grade levels and teachers a “one-stop” access point.
To distribute required textbooks and novels this semester, the high school and Cunha Intermediate School library had students pick up material in staggered groups to enforce social distancing.
At the middle school, librarian Dena Grover is doing a similar job of balancing book requests and troubleshooting Chromebook issues. Grover noted the first month was “pretty crazy” with students asking for laptop assistance. But Grover also said that even with free access to the library’s entire online catalog, problems persist if a student can’t connect to the internet.
“One of the bigger issues involved in this is that if kids or families live somewhere with bad internet service, it’s really a difficult situation,” she said.
Cunha’s library has expanded the book’s return deadline, and students can still come to campus when they need to pick up books for class. For the last week, Grover has distributed novels students are reading in their respective English classes.
Kings Mountain Elementary School has stopped operations completely. At Farallone View Elementary School, students aren’t reserving books but are still receiving them.
“We are not checking out books to students at this time, since most of the teachers are sending books home to the kids already, according to their reading level and interests,” said librarian Annemieke Baker, who has been reading to her classes over Zoom. “The children return the books after two weeks and get a new packet of books again.”
Baker said students are using learning websites like Epic digital library and Raz-Kids reading practice.
Librarian Lynne Carlton runs a similar structure at Hatch and El Granada elementary schools. She splits her time with a week at each library. Along with distributing Chromebooks, Carlton records weekly reading videos for classes when she is working at the other library.
Hatch and El Granada are hosting online book fairs from Nov. 16 through Dec 4. Carlton hopes a new format for the fair will reach a wider audience than in previous years.
Both Smith and Grover noted that students are encouraged to use free state databases, including ProQuest, TeachingBooks, Britannica School and Britannica Escolar. Though libraries are becoming more tech-oriented and virtual these days, Smith hopes one day, when campus operations resume, students will come back in to turn those physical pages.
“I know the future of school libraries will look different than it did less than a year ago,” Smith wrote in an email. “I know there is still a need for books, both online and offline, and someone needs to check out those items to them. When we open back up to students, I do not know how it will look, but I will be here to help them.”