Working Together When Nothing’s Working

My elementary school-aged daughters are in the midst of virtual learning, and as the stay-at-home parent, so am I! The other day I was sitting by my 3rd grader during her Library class. I heard the excellent school librarian (shout out to Mrs. Robin!) instructing the 6- to 9-year old students on the use of an e-book database; as she showed them how to navigate the interface, Mrs. Robin asked students if they had ever browsed the public library’s e-book collection. My daughter beamed at me as we recalled the many times we have enjoyed my library’s e-audiobooks on family trips, on our way to the store, or as a pre-bedtime listen.

It was a small thing and Mrs. Robin quickly moved on with her lesson, but this in-class mention of the public library was a good example of something we all do in our work with children: make connections in whatever ways we can to ensure all children have the best chance to thrive and learn. But my experience with my daughter and her Library class also got me thinking: how do we continue to support each other in our various capacities when seemingly every system around us is breaking down? I think back to the time BP (Before the Pandemic), and the pre-K class that walked over to visit my preschool storytime on Monday mornings – besides online programming, how else can the public library continue to support this class when our in-person programs are suspended?

What ways (if any) are you collaborating with your colleagues during this extended period of upheaval? Public librarians – how are you supporting and working with your school-age counterparts? Teachers and school librarians – how are you supporting and working with your public library counterparts? Let us know in the comments! (And if I am leaving out any other fields or agencies, please let me know that as well.)

Today’s post was written by Sam Bloom (he/him/his), a Youth Services Librarian in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Chair of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School/Public Library Cooperation. Sam can be reached at sibloom24@gmail.com.

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group; V. Outreach and Advocacy; and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.


  1. Kary Henry

    Hi Sam, thanks for asking these questions. I’ve led Bluestem (Illinois Readers’ Choice Awards) booktalks for the elementary school librarians’ classes over Zoom, and I’m looking forward to leading other Zoom programs with them, but I’m still missing that “besides online programming” piece! During my booktalks, the school librarian and I emphasize that BOTH libraries (school and public) have copies of the Bluestem books. One of the middle school librarians included information about our limited browsing hours in her virtual Open House video. Finally, I helped start a network of early childhood directors a little over a year ago. We met over Zoom every week from April to August and are now meeting virtually once a month. This network is a safe space for directors to share how they’re handling issues related to the pandemic, as well as problem-solve and support each other. Having the Library host these meetings creates a neutral common ground. It’s been very successful.

  2. Sam Bloom

    Thanks so much for these great ideas, Kary! I know we’re all Zoomed out, but that networking meeting sounds pretty wonderful.

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