School leadership, as part of its Facilities Master plan, decided to merge our 2 school libraries, as part of a renovation of the entire building which houses our main library. Since 2019, we have been preparing for a scenario where we would be moving to a temporary location for well over 12 months, and where services and access to print books would be greatly reduced.
The plan was for building works to commence in September, 2020. In light of this, we had been focusing on designing an amazing new library, culling of unused resources, and greater provision of online services and texts.
While the building project was suspended due to COVID 19, the urgent preparation for this renovation left us better prepared for providing library services during the COVID Pandemic and learning@home and also learning@school under COVID health restrictions.
Just to give a general context to library operation under COVID; the school has been generally operating its normal timetable, even while learning@home occurred. We had some students of essential workers at school, but the vast majority were learning@home. Students who attended school also learnt online. Our students range from Year 5 to Year 12, and all staff and students have at least a Windows tablet. The students started each day with Home Group remotely, often using Microsoft Teams. This included students still attending school. Then the school day progressed as per the timetable. Lessons were delivered using Onenote and Teams. The school already used Classroom Onenotes for lessons, so these were amended for students to be able to follow at home. These adjustments were time-consuming to develop, and included screencasts, videos and many additional instructions. Pastoral House Assemblies occurred via Teams. The school also conducted its full school Friday Assemblies which were streamed live via Teams to nearly 1600 students, nearly 200 staff, and also any watching parents at home.
All staff were able to choose to work from home or school. The library shared a live updatable file that contained the times library staff would be on site. Most library staff chose of their own accord, to come in to work on some of their rostered days. This enabled the library to provide a collection service for books and texts from Student Services;’ parents and students emailed and phoned with requests. The library was like a beach during under the extreme COVID restrictions; people could come and borrow, but not stay or sit. This was due to cleaning arrangements and could be changed with a day’s notice.
The library emailed weekly newsletters to staff, Seniors, Years 7 to 10, and also one to Years 5 and 6s, as well as promotion via our blog https://allhallowsschoollibrary.com/
The Library advised parents of services via the school newsletter, and via a COVID parent portal, which contained all the school learning@home information.
We lent large numbers of set novels and also books for reading for pleasure, at the end of the term. Most English classes rearranged their units to study set novels, as these were units were easier to deliver at home.
We promoted reading ebooks and audiobooks, via our Wheelers Eplatform and Overdrive Sora app. We send out a book review daily on our Instagram account @ahsbrisbanelibrary
Library lessons continued with Year 5 and 6 students, at the normal time on their timetable, albeit remotely. These students were familiar with Onenote, which Library staff already used with students. Library staff prepared many videos where they read books aloud, as well as other videos to explain tasks. The Library program includes many aspects of the Digital Technologies Curriculum, such as Scratch, and this could be delivered online. This was also a good time to revisit online safety with students.
Library Staff Duties
All school staff were provided with a tablet to use at home. Staff used the Outlook “To Do” tool to organise and share etheir daily tasks, professional learning and larger projects. Staff checked in weekly using Microsoft Teams. Library staff meetings were delivered via Teams. Library staff work in operational groups who meet twice a term; this continued occurring, but via Teams. Our school is very well set up to work remotely, and library staff easily found projects to work on from home.
AHS uses Box of Books as its online text platform. Jacaranda offered free texts during Term 2, as a COVID offer, and these texts were added to our Box of Books collection for many Departments.
A new Senior Religion text was released in digital format this week, but not yet in print. Students and staff had access to this new text online the next day, via Box of Books.
Due to a curriculum change by QCAA late in Term 1, some Senior classes needed novels after students had finished for the Term, so print could not be issued. After exploring different avenues, these novels were delivered via Wheelers Eplatform. The Library made a range of videos and other support resources, to assist students in studying set novels in ebook format for the first time.
AHS bought a school license for the digital version of the QSLA APA Guide to Referencing for Secondary Students, by Jenni King, a few years ago. This is provided to all students online in their Box of Books text collection.
The Library began using Libguides as its new site, last year. Many library staff have worked on this and it is now a rich resource. Teaching staff requested many Research Guides to support assignments and these are provided via Libguides, as well as learning resources such as Referencing Guides.
The Library added several new databases this year, so that was a timely increase in resources to support online research, when print books are not available. This included 2 new ebook collections.
Library staff scanned many single chapters of textbooks for teachers at the end of Term 1, as permitted under our copyright license. These were also catalogued.
Library staff made many screencasts and provided many links to craft and other projects that can be done at home. In particular, ideas were provided for gifts students could at home make for Mothers’ Day.
Library staff were extremely fortunate in the way our school planned for remote learning. All staff were very well supported with Professional Development for using Teams and for creating online learning resources, before moving to the situation where staff and students worked from home in Term 2.
In terms of library operations, returned books are left in quarantine, before shelving. The catalogue was adjusted so that borrowed items were not be due, until return to school.
In terms of managing when students were on site, ample sanitizer was provided and early effective initiatives, such as split lunches, reduced student numbers in the libraries at the end of Term 1, at any one time. Furniture was spread out to create distance, and bean bags and cushions put in storage. The school moved quickly to provide additional cleaning of the whole school, including the library.
These were just some of the initiatives the Library provided during COVID learning@home. With the move back to learning@school, hopefully the library project will be ignited; and in the meantime…the culling continues.