September arrived, and with it, the haste of the new school year! Students are back in the classrooms; and at our libraries. After a long hiatus from the rush of in-person/on-site programming and services, how ready are we to welcome them back?
Much has happened since March 2020; when the pandemic forced libraries across the country to close our doors and stop all in-person programs. As a Floridian, I compare the pandemic to a category 5 hurricane. The eye of the storm passed, and we are in the outer band of the storm, still feeling the winds and the rain.
Throughout the past year and half, children’s librarians worked their magic to create new and innovative ways to reach children and families by quickly constructing new paths to services and by embracing the advantages of existing technologies. In retrospect, the work of ALSC’s Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth prepared children’s professionals for their proactive response during the year of the Pandemic. After March 2020, and in the blink of an eye, media mentorship became the vital function of library workers serving children and families everywhere. Access to current research and to so many key resources helped children’s librarians to transition from in-person to virtual programs and services. ALSC’s Media Mentorship in Libraries work also gave way to launching the #LooktoLibraries initiative that compiled and highlighted important resources for children’s librarians and library workers to help the families and children in the communities during these unique times.
As we arrive at this new juncture – the reopening – I ponder at the long-lasting effects of the changes made during the year of the pandemic on the practice of our profession. This past year was filled with unforeseeable opportunities to expand and enrich the programmatic skills and experience of children’s library workers. I am thrilled to see children back at the library, and I am also excited by our ever-growing ability to reach so many more children remotely at their homes or schools through innovative virtual programming. I look forward to hearing about how ALSC members from communities across the country are preparing for the return of children to in-person/on-site programs and services. In the aftermath of the storm (the pandemic), I am curious to learn about new trends in programming and models of service for families and children of all ages.
Lucia M. Gonzalez
ALSC: Association for Library Service to Children