Librarians inspire as they serve remote readers

By Steve Potash, Publisher | May 2020

“The only constant in life is change.”
– Heraclitus

Libraries and librarians have routinely embraced change to reflect the life and times of the communities they serve. During the past several weeks, librarians have employed innovative and imaginative ways to expand access to information, education, entertainment and comfort as we shelter, work and educate our children in place. With library buildings closed and no access to print books for readers to borrow, librarians have, among many other community support duties, focused their skills on digital content services.

Every day our team at OverDrive is inspired by the librarians who are agents of change. Here are a few examples of how the local librarians are guiding us to the information we are looking for.

Coping with stress & anxiety

With so many people dealing with heightened health concerns and anxiety right now, the Nevada Library Cooperative prominently suggests curated titles that offer guidance for what we are all going through.

Northern Beaches Council Library in Australia suggests we could all benefit from getting up from our desks, couches and beds and start moving. These pilates, yoga and Tai Chi videos from Gaiam Video are always available to their users without waitlists. The library’s digital book collection features this self-help option in the top spot on their OverDrive site, so it’s the first thing users see.

While we are talking up the Australian libraries, South Australia Public Library Services has curated two very timely collections. “The Quarantini Collection” for adults and “The Quarantween Collection” for the YA reader. Both showcase hand-picked titles recommended by the SA library staff. Emily Wilson, collection development manager for the library system, was recently profiled in The Adelaide Review about the tremendous work she’s doing for Australia libraries.

Supporting students with remote reading assignments

As living rooms and dens have replaced classrooms, the digital library team at the San Diego County Library quickly launched the “High School @ Home” reading room. Besides promoting their excellent catalog of ebooks, audiobooks and magazines for English language assignments and literature, they created multiple curated collections for teens to supplement their coursework while they are taking classes online. This reading room also features a “Book of the Week” for readers of all ages to enjoy.  Students are now browsing the ebook aisles of the High School @ Home library and discovering “Homework Help” alongside thought-provoking nonfiction.

K-12 is not alone in supporting students remotely seeking digital content. The Yale University Library increased online resources as part of its “Ask Yale Library” service. To assist students studying remotely, Yale expanded the hours and staff doing virtual reference. The medical library at Yale also developed a collection of COVID-19 related citations to aid clinicians and researchers.

How do we get distance learning kids to read more?

Tom Nixon at the Fresno Unified School District has been tweeting and promoting access to books and reading for their 70,000+ students by making it fun with Sora, the student reading app. In a recent press conference, Fresno USD Superintendent Bob Nelson broadcast to the community the great ebook resources students should use while schools are closed.

The students at Eric S. Smith Middle School in Ramsey, NJ, wrote, directed and produced an eerie video entitled “The Vanishing . . . of Eric S. Smith School.” This incredible and engaging video starts with a troubling series of empty building shots in black and white until a hero enters the scene. Ebooks and audiobooks bring students back to the school in full color as reading restores life back to the building.

Creative and resourceful librarians and media specialists are demonstrating every day why a trip to the library from our homes and mobile devices is an advisable journey for many reasons. If your local library is inspiring you to read more, discover new places or skills and find comfort, please drop a note to I know we will continue to benefit from the changes in how our libraries and librarians encourage us to best utilize our minds and our library card while we wait for them to re-open.

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1 thought on “Librarians inspire as they serve remote readers

  1. I’m curious about Northern Beaches Libraries “always available” titles. How does a library set up an always available collection?

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