It’s safe to assume that nothing this year has been normal. Google Meets have replaced classrooms, many interactions are done via chat or email, and most students aren’t even entering the Canyon Vista building on a day-to-day basis. So, how can a library that functions off students coming in and picking up books still keep working? Ms. Stiles and Ms. Maddox of the CVMS school library are working tirelessly to solve that problem each and every day.
Pickup and Drop-off
One of the most important parts of any library is how you get the books. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Language Arts teachers regularly brought their students into the library to check out books, and students were free to come and go from the library as they pleased. Now, you can’t enter the school if you didn’t enroll in physical learning, and all of the Language Arts classes take place across dozens of homes. Ms. Stiles found a solution! Grab-and-Go Pickup. Students can place holds on books, drive to CVMS, and pick them up right outside the doors.
“[RRISD librarians] had been using the Austin Public Library’s Curbside Service and seeing tweets from many other public libraries about their services, and decided we should do the same thing,” Mrs. Stiles said. The librarian continued, “We were really excited to come up with and implement the idea – we couldn’t stand the thought of our books not being read!”
And though all that may seem like a lot of work, the student body appreciates all the effort they’re putting in. About a third of a group of 80 students say the service was very fast, and over two-thirds say they would definitely recommend it to a friend.
Even though Grab-and-Go Pickup is an option, some students aren’t comfortable picking up physical books, or they simply prefer digital copies. The CVMS library has a solution for that, too. MackinVIA is a program that allows students to browse ebooks and audiobooks to check out and read, just like physical books. Though this program has been used for a long time, it’s especially important now.
“There has definitely been an increase in MackinVIA usage since the pandemic started,” Mrs. Stiles said, though she believes part of the increase is due to additional titles being added to the program. Not only that, 45% of polled students say they’d recommend it to friend. It seems MackinVIA is quite popular in the midst of a pandemic.
“I’ve checked out many books in MackinVIA and I love it,” Maya Alas, a 6th grader, said, “I wish we had some more options that are on the CVMS Read Woke [list], and some more Lonestar books. Overall, I really like it.”
“MackinVIA was great,” Rutu Ruparel (8) says, “I really liked reading through it.”
Slideshows, Emails, Forms, Oh My!
During a regular school year, you’ll often see groups of people around library tables, putting together puzzles, playing games, or dropping off scribbled-on slips of paper. This is because the library holds competitions, games, and clubs year-round. Since this isn’t quite able to happen this year, the solution has become more accessible and far simpler. Students of all grade levels are constantly receiving emails with slideshows spotlighting brand-new books, reading and writing contests, and other book-related announcements. These emails make participating in things like the Spooktober Writing Contest as easy as submitting a Google Form.
“Sometimes I spotlight books that are new to the library and other times I’ll come up with lists of my favorites,” the librarian says of these emails, “the RRISD middle school librarians share everything we make, which is nice because making the slideshows is time-consuming.”
In conclusion, the library staff is hard at work all the time, curating a library experience like no other. The work they do may not be tied directly to schoolwork, but it’s just as important. Whether it’s coming up with zany contests like wrapping people in toilet paper, highlighting diverse and unique books, or organizing systems to keep students reading, the Canyon Vista library is working tirelessly to create a fun and literary school year. Visit the CVMS directory to find the library website, and keep an eye on your email for contests and book announcements.