Spotlight: ‘How School Libraries Have Evolved’

March Spotlight: ‘How School Libraries Have Evolved’
Posted on 03/31/2021
library

Welcome to Your Library

The theme for National Library Week (April 4-10, 2021), “Welcome to Your Library,” promotes the idea that libraries extend far beyond the four walls of a building – and that everyone is welcome to use their services.

MARCH SPOTLIGHT STORY

School libraries can be a relaxing place to curl up with a book, browse the computer, conduct some research or participate in group activities. But a year ago that all changed when librarians had to adapt to the new changes and guidelines due to the pandemic. This meant readapting the way things were done, but still delivering services to students and teachers.

 

Rome librarians use Google Classrooms to conduct instruction and share information with students. “Our biggest focus is, and has always been, making connections with students and supporting them in their learning and their reading. We have increased the amount and variety of eBooks available to students; they can access and use them for independent reading and for school projects,” said Kathryn Deming, Strough Middle School Librarian.

 

Rome School libraries collaborate with the MOBOCES School Library System (SLS), which provides services and programs that serve students, librarians, teachers and administrators. They provide access to the latest advances in library and education technology, training and resources.

 

“With the help of the MOBOCES SLS, librarians created LibGuides for their building staff as “One Stop Shopping” for all resources needs (such as online databases, training requests, materials requests, etc.),” said Courtney Huf, librarian at Denti. In addition, she spearheaded the development of a Google Site for the RCSD community called, ‘RCSD Library Central’. It features Book Talks and Read Alouds with librarians, E-Books, Resources and more.

 

“Just as school libraries and the school librarian’s role have evolved over the last decade or two, so have our School Library System services. Our resource sharing used to focus solely on the physical sharing of books across the roughly 150 school libraries in our greater 3 BOCES region, including the 9 different school libraries in the RCSD. We still do this, of course, as many students seem to prefer having a book in hand – but now we are also developing diverse, culturally responsive digital collections that all of the school librarians, educators, and student in our region can access,” said Susan LeBlanc, Director of the SLS

 

RFA Librarian Zack and colleague Mary Laverty have been collaborating with teachers on various projects.We have been presenting library instruction virtually using Google Classroom hyperslides and docs, live Google Meets and asynchronous pre-recorded videos, as well as helping the teacher monitor student progress in the virtual setting, we have also been using reading apps like SORA, and the library Google Classroom page to work with teachers to promote reading,” he said.

 

“So much as changed in the physical manner in which I teach, but the core of my job, connecting and sharing a love of reading with my students has not. Whether fully remote or hybrid I have tried very hard to keep library relevant and engaging,” said Bellamy Librarian, Sarah Keesler. With students back in classrooms (hybrid) in Rome there are more activity in the libraries.

 

Staley Librarian, Jill Schaal said since the pandemic started her focus has shifted from getting books into students’ hands to getting eBooks on students Chromebooks. “We have increased access to eBooks for both information and leisure for both teachers and students,” she said. 

 

Librarians have had to learn new skills and be more creative during the pandemic. “We are constantly learning new technologies to engage our students. Because we have to have our lessons available asynchronously, there is a lot of recording of lessons on top of planning for the in-person students,” said Ridge and Stokes Librarian, Cathleen Woodruff.

Snake photos (show and tell in the library)

 

For Nicole Iverson, Librarian at Gansevoort/John Joy the pandemic has changed the way she does things. “I spent a lot of time at home creating book read aloud videos to share with my students. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ve taught myself new skills and have focused my energy on creating engaging online lessons - using lots of new tools I wasn’t even aware of a year ago,” she said.

 

April is School Library Month and we thank the Rome City School District Librarians for all they do to keep our students engaged, especially during this COVID-19 Pandemic!

 

 

Rome City School District Librarians and Library Aides:


DENTI ELEMENTARY: COURTNEY HUF
 

 

How long have you been a librarian in the Rome City School District?

This is my third year as a school library media specialist. I was a teacher before that. Libraries were always my first love/first NYS certification

 

Have you held other positions within the school district?

I was a classroom teacher for 12 years before taking up the position.

 

How has your job as librarian changed due to the restrictions of COVID-19?

Providing in-person and virtual instruction has required me to totally rethink how the library services are provided:

1.     Book Exchange: Due to the COVID restrictions, our students are making virtual requests (either paper or Google forms) for books. We have also set up a pick-up time for totally virtual students so they may still get their books.

2.     MOBOCES Ebook resources: To further supplement access to reading materials, we have introduced our students to SORA Ebooks as well as Worldbook Ebooks. Both are services provided by BOCES.

3.     NEW BOOKS presentations: As we continue to add new titles to our collections, we have created hyperslides for virtual “book tasting” so students can preview new books that we either have physical or virtual (SORA) copies of.

4.     Continued Curriculum instruction in virtual environments: We have modified are lesson structure to suit the environment such as teaching research skills with the promotion of online resources, book genre instruction accompanying book tasting and culminating activities like Kahoots.

5.     OSOB programs: Various schools are planning to have virtual author visits in conjunction with their OSOB programs.

6.     LibGuides hosted by MOBOCES: many of the librarians created LibGuides for their building staff as “One Stop Shopping” for all resources needs (such as online databases, training requests, materials requests, etc.

 

Do other responsibilities include book delivery (classroom, curbside)?

see #3

 

How do you ensure teachers know about the content/services in your library?

see #3

 

Library Aide, Candance Westcott

 

 

BELLAMY ELEMENTARY: SARAH KEESLER 

 

How long have you been a librarian in the Rome City School District?

      This is my 11th year in Rome and my 13th as a Library Media Specialist (LMS).  I have been only at Bellamy! #bulldog

 

Have you held other positions within the school district?

      I have only ever been an LMS, but I also work for the Teacher Center as the Program Specialist.  I help create Professional Learning for the district as well as serve on several different committees.

 

How has your job as librarian changed due to the restrictions of COVID-19?

      So much as changed in the physical manner in which I teach, but the core of my job, connecting and sharing a love of reading with my students has not.  Whether fully remote or hybrid I have tried very hard to keep library relevant and engaging.  When we came back hybrid and I was pushing into teachers’ rooms it was difficult and at times I felt like I wanted to do more with my students, but since we have been able to hold classes in the library and I have better technology access and resource access I have felt a huge improvement in my lessons and my students’ engagement.

 

Do other responsibilities include book delivery (classroom, curbside)?

      At the beginning of the year I was delivering books to classrooms.  I had students sending me requests through Google Forms and our library program, and this was very difficult.  Choosing a book to read is deeply personal and I was afraid I wasn’t meeting my students’ needs, but actually so many students told me how much they loved the book I picked for them and how they would not have chosen it for themselves.  That made me feel so wonderful and it was a huge moral boost that I needed!  Now that we are back in the library students are picking their own books, but I still get to help give students advice and recommendations so it’s the best of both worlds.

 

How do you ensure teachers know about the content/services in your library?

      I try and check in with my teachers and see what they are doing and offer services and programs that I know might help!  I also shared “how to” videos and a Google Slide Deck that outlined what resources we have and how they and their students can access them.  I try to make it very clear that my library is always open and I want to help anyone in any way that I can. 

 

Library Aide, Joann Bialobreski

 

 

STALEY ELEMENTARY: JILL SCHAAL 

 

How long have you been a librarian in the Rome City School District?

Beginning my 5th year with the District.

 

Have you held other positions within the school district?

No

 

How has your job as librarian changed due to the restrictions of COVID-19?

My focus has shifted from getting books into students’ hands to getting eBooks on students Chromebooks. We have increased access to eBooks for both information and leisure for both teachers and students. Up until last week, students were not allowed in the library, so I have been moving from classroom to classroom providing library lessons and books.

 

Do other responsibilities include book delivery (classroom, curbside)?

Absolutely! From the start, we offered curbside book delivery and actually have a grandparent come every week to get books for his 2nd grader. Students in K-2nd grades have a menu of books that they may choose from; other students complete a form requesting specific books. Those books are then either delivered to the student’s locker or placed on hold for a parent to pick up.

 

How do you ensure teachers know about the content/services in your library?

Emails are sent out on a regular basis to remind them of resources available. Now that we are back in the building, it is easier for me to see what teachers are doing in the classroom and offer resources as needed.

 

Library Aide, Tracy Wenndt

 

GANSEVOORT AND JOHN JOY LIBRARIAN: NICOLE IVERSON 

 

How long have you been a librarian in the Rome City School District? 

I’ve been working in the District for 10 years. Before starting with the RCSD, I was a Reference Librarian at Jervis Public Library for 5 years.

 

Have you held other positions within the school district?

No, but I am currently taking classes through SUNY Cortland to earn my Administrative Certification. I hope to contribute to the district in an administrative capacity sometime in the near future.

 

How has your job as librarian changed due to the restrictions of COVID-19?

Lots of changes! With COVID, there was a huge increase in the demand for reputable and authoritative online resources. A lot of time at the onset of the pandemic was spent curating resource lists and providing them to teachers and students.  In addition to my own Google Classroom for students, I created specialized Google Classrooms aimed directly at teaching staff (providing resources, lesson ideas, how-to videos, video book read-alouds, etc). I spent a lot of time at home creating book read aloud videos to share with my students (copyright compliant, of course). Over the course of the pandemic, I’ve taught myself new skills and have focused my energy on creating engaging online lessons - using lots of new tools I wasn’t even aware of a year ago.

 

With the demand for online books, I now devote more time and effort to creating e-Book collections, and demonstrating to students (and teachers) how to access them. Everything requires more thought and planning now - and getting books into the hands of students is no easy feat. During this hybrid time, I’ve been a traveling librarian. Taking a cart full of books to the classrooms to allow for book borrowing with minimal germ-spreading. Teaching hybrid also means, like classroom teachers, I am teaching in-person and virtual students at the same time. That, in itself, is challenging and “new.”

 

In regards to socio-emotional learning, I have tried to stay connected with all my students to the best of my ability. At Joy, Stephanie Darcangelo and I spearheaded the creation of a video to let our students know we missed them and we are thinking about them. I created a “Guess the Teacher Bitmoji” activity to engage the students in a fun virtual guessing game. In addition, I created postcards, and sent them to students who virtually engaged with me with fidelity during the early months of the pandemic.

 

Do other responsibilities include book delivery (classroom, curbside)?

Book delivery on a cart - yes!  And, since I am assigned to two schools, my Library Aide handle book checkouts for the cohorts I do not see on a regular basis.

 

How do you ensure teachers know about the content/services in your library?

I try to keep teachers updated through emails, communication during faculty meetings, in-person discussions, and my professional Google Classrooms (one for each school).

 

Gansevoort Library Aide, Theresa Calidonna and Joy Library Aide, Donna Guiliano

 

 

RIDGE MILLS/STOKES ELEMENTARY: CATHLEEN WOODRUFF

 

How long have you been a librarian in the Rome City School District?

22 years.

 

Have you held other positions within the school district? 

I have been a librarian at Fort Stanwix, RFA, Staley, Ridge Mills and Stokes.

 

How has your job as librarian changed due to the restrictions of COVID-19?

Having to teach to both in-person and online at the same time is difficult. Trying to engage students is difficult to do online.  Library should be a face to face situation. Not being able to let students come to the library and browse the books has been disheartening.  At one of my schools, I have to push in to the classrooms and will probably have to do this for the rest of the year. 

 

Do other responsibilities include book delivery (classroom, curbside)? 

Yes. Luckily for me, my aides at both schools have a handle on this. In order to check out books, the students have learned to “order” books using a Google Form that the aides intercept. They fill the orders and deliver the books to the students.

 

How do you ensure teachers know about the content/services in your library?

With the help of School Library System, we librarians have created LibGuides for our teachers. The LibGuides provide teachers with access to all the resources available through the library. We also email the teachers as new resources become available.

 

What new skills have you been learning and how have you had to be more creative?

Oh my! So much. We are constantly learning new technologies to engage our students.

Because we have to have our lessons available asynchronously, there is a lot of 

recording of lessons on top of planning for the in-person students. Trying to keep

students engaged virtually has been a challenge for every teacher.

 

Ridge Mills Library Aide, Diane Smolinski and Stokes Library Aide, Patsy McCarthy  



STROUGH MIDDLE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN: KATHRYN DEMING   

 

How long have you been a librarian in the Rome City School District?

This is my 12th school year in Rome City School District

 

Have you held other positions within the school district?

No - I’ve always been at Strough

 

How has your job as librarian changed due to the restrictions of COVID-19?

My interactions with students was very much reduced as the library was not open for study hall or lunch students until after mid-winter break. Now that students can come in again for that, it’s really nice to be able to see them in that capacity again.  Instruction is taking place in the teacher’s classroom and via Google Meet. Additionally, we assist students with providing loaner Chromebooks for the day and/or giving them a place to charge their Chromebooks if needed.

 

Do other responsibilities include book delivery (classroom, curbside)?

Yes - we offer curbside book delivery for those students who are completely virtual. I will also deliver books to classrooms for those students who cannot pick them up at the library.

 

How do you ensure teachers know about the content/services in your library?

As with all teachers, the Library department has drastically adjusted how we operate, instruct students and assist teachers this school year. Our biggest focus is, and has always been, making connections with students and supporting them in their learning and their reading. We have increased the amount and variety of eBooks available to students; they can access and use them for independent reading and for school projects. We use reading apps like Sora, as well as the library Google Classroom pages to work with teachers and students to promote reading. We have also continued to lend out physical books since the beginning of the school year by utilizing a practice similar to curbside pickup being used by stores. Creating virtual book displays to highlight topics and types of stories helps give students a focus for their book browsing.

 

All RCSD libraries have Google Classrooms where we conduct instruction and share information with students. Instructional practices have adjusted, as well, to best meet the needs of our in-person and our virtual students. We have been working to simulate what we have done in the past - when collaborating with teachers on library projects - by using virtual learning resources like Google Classroom. We are presenting library instruction virtually using Google Meet, library resource hyper slides and Google Docs, as well as helping the teacher monitor student progress in the virtual setting. And as teachers look for resources and tools to use, we share with them information about databases and services that can help them in the classroom. As librarians, we are always thinking of and sharing ways our students and teachers can access and use information, resources and literature.

 

Library Aide, Emily Favata

 

 

ROME FREE ACADEMY LIBRARIAN: ZACHARY SNOW 

 

How long have you been a librarian in the Rome City School District?
9 years                        

 

Have you held other positions within the school district?
No

 

How has your job as librarian changed due to the restrictions of COVID-19?

We have been working to simulate what we have done in the past, when collaborating with teachers on projects, by using virtual learning resources like Google Classroom. We have been presenting library instruction virtually using Google Classroom hyperslides and docs, live G-Meets and asynchronous pre-recorded videos, as well as helping the teacher monitor student progress in the virtual setting. We have also been using reading apps like SORA, and the library google classroom page to work with teachers to promote reading.

 

Do other responsibilities include book delivery (classroom, curbside)?

Students can request books through OPALS and email. We are delivering books to classrooms, and virtual students can request and pickup books from the security window inside the main entrance to RFA.

 

How do you ensure teachers know about the content/services in your library?

We communicate regularly through email and in-person. We have worked with teachers to develop Hybrid/Virtual alternatives for class library projects and to promote reading through reading apps like SORA, Google Classroom resources, and the use of the RFA library Google Classroom.

 

Mary Laverty/MOBOCES .5 Librarian/Four years

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