Libraries may be closed in many districts, but school librarians are using resourcefulness and determination to make sure students are reading, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How school librarians are getting creative in a pandemic

Libraries may be closed in many districts, but school librarians are using resourcefulness and determination to make sure students are reading

New questions from school librarians…

Will ultra violet disinfectant devices damage books?
How long should I quarantine a book before circulating it again?
How can I use technology to coordinate curbside pick-up for students who want to check out print books?

Meet the same old challenges…

How can I ensure teachers know about the content available in my library?
My principal wants to convert my library into a classroom. What should I do?
My budget is on hold until further notice.

Back-to-school season is often chaotic, but the anticipation of a new school year can also be exciting. 2020 brought chaos, anticipation, trepidation, and change. As districts pivot to new ways of teaching and learning, school librarians must also grapple with how to do their jobs in the COVID-19 virtual environment.

Related content: How school librarians can save democracy

The very nature of a library implies physical books stored on rows of shelves. But with school closures the norm—not the exception—students no longer have access to the place many of them found comfort and knowledge: the school library.

Of the 25,000 customers who responded to a recent Follett survey, only 15 percent of schools are delivering fully in-school instruction. What’s more, the American Association of School Librarians recently surveyed more than 1,000 professionals and found that more than 40 percent of school libraries will not reopen this school year.

In many districts across the country, the librarian’s job description had not been updated to reflect a “future ready” world that includes the delivery of digital resources, curriculum partnerships, and community connections. When you layer on a pandemic that includes hybrid and remote learning, there is no job description available. But resourceful school librarians from coast to coast are finding innovative ways to work in a system that has no precedent.

“Librarians save lives by handing the right book at the right time to a kid in need.” (Judy Blume)

Librarians, by nature, want to help young readers—and each other. This has never been more evident than in recent discussions in the Future Ready Librarian Facebook group. Michigan school librarian Lisa Smith Brakel asked, “We are face-to-face this year. My school is using a ‘fogger’ to disinfect classrooms. I am worried about the library books. Should the fogger be used in the library?”

Sign up for our K-12 newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Britten Follett
Latest posts by Britten Follett (see all)

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at

eSchool News uses cookies to improve your experience. Visit our Privacy Policy for more information.