COVID-19 creates changes in school libraries


Shelley Lau

In an effort to keep students safe, Aina Haina Elementary implemented a seating layout in their library. Velcro dots have been placed on the ground to show students where to sit while being socially distanced from each other.

Shea Brown, News Feature

Since the start of the pandemic, school libraries have been forced to adapt to COVID-19 just to stay open.

Carla Hallin, a paraprofessional educator at Niu Valley Middle, works in the library. Hallin says it was difficult to keep the library “accessible yet safe” for everyone.

I am constantly wiping down anything and everything anyone touches,” Hallin states. “A cart was placed outside the entrance and the books were left on the cart untouched for a week until they were reshelved. When students borrowed a book online, I delivered the book(s) to them.”

Shelley Lau, a school librarian at Aina Haina Elementary, found new ways for students to borrow books.

“I would deliver books to classrooms and used a library takeout system similar to the public library,” Lau recalls. “I became really familiar with Sora, the statewide eBooks collection, and promoted that and other electronic resources during distance learning. Our circulation statistics with Sora have greatly increased since the pandemic.”

Lau also provides lessons for students in the library. It was a “tough” transition to go from in-person to virtual, says Lau.

I virtually taught library classes for five quarters,” Lau recounts. “A lot of my pre-pandemic library lessons are hands-on or small group based so I had to develop a new curriculum in a way that would engage students from home.”

Libraries have started to return to normal, but there are still protective measures in place.  

“Upon entering, students had to disinfect their hands,” Hallin explained. It started with only active browsing and borrowing of books. No one was allowed to sit or loiter in the library. 

Lau maintains an optimistic view and hopes the library will continue to lift restrictions.

“The library is a safe place for many, so I missed that interaction,” Lau says. “The last two years were difficult but I know that we can continue to overcome obstacles to maintain access to resources, engage students in learning, and promote an appreciation for reading.”