I miss my public library counterpart. I don’t work with her every day, and I don’t see her very often, but in these Strange COVID Times, we need each other more than ever. I miss her because she offers me an additional library perspective on my students and their needs. I need her because she can do things in the public library that I just can’t do here. She needs me because this is where the kids are. With many public libraries offering only curbside pick-up and limited services and hours, school is where her patrons are. Library Zoom programs can only go so far.
She and I typically offer our middle school families an evening Parent-Child book club. We run this program a few times a year and participation is a tradition for some families. We have great discussions and share pizza and snacks. We talk about the book we just read, as well as other things we are reading and enjoying. For me it’s a great way to get to know my students in a way that I couldn’t in a classroom. For her, it’s a great way to get to know families who may not be regular public library users and plug her Teen Advisory Board activities in the high school. I really miss Parent-Child Book Club.
I miss talking to a partner I can bounce ideas off of, someone who knows these kids and what kind of readers they are. Someone who can tell me what I need to know, such as when a particular student is shy but loves to talk about books. I love getting that information so I can reach out to that kid and strike up a conversation about the latest Amulet or Tristan Strong book.
I need my public library partner because circulating books is harder this year (not impossible, but harder) and I can’t always give my students the book they want when they want it. But the public library has a much larger ebook and audiobook collection. Showing students how to use the public library resources so they can get the book they want immediately is very gratifying. I want them to be lifelong library users. While I can serve some of their needs now, teaching them to be public library users will help them now and in the future.
Even in these Strange COVID Times, these relationships are more necessary than ever, and it is important we continue to reach out. I used to see public library counterparts at conferences, Mock Award sessions and book discussion groups, but those aren’t happening right now and I can’t see them in person. But we need each other. We rely on each other. And now, our students need us all. I may not be able to see my public library partner in person, maybe we can’t chat over pizza, but my e-mail is working, and the needs of our students don’t stop for COVID. So, if you will excuse me, I have an e-mail to write to the local public library…
Teka McCabe is the library media specialist at Briarcliff High School and Briarcliff Middle School in Westchester County, NY. When not at school you can find her reading, quilting or on a golf course. She can be reached at email@example.com.