By Marian Mays, Librarian
Libraries and digital learning have always gone hand in hand, especially now when many individuals don’t have access to physical resources. While this may not be a surprise to most, my background in public libraries taught me that most people don’t think about the connection between libraries and digital equity. The truth is that libraries represent and provide so much more than books! Modern public and school libraries operate as community and resource sharing centers.
At Forest Ridge, the physical library space is a vibrant, thriving resource where you’ll frequently spot students running in to check out books, meeting with their friends, hosting club meetings, attending classes, listening to "book talk” presentations, printing homework, meeting with advisors, holding house meetings, or finding a quiet nook to read and study. Now that the Forest Ridge community has switched to a digital learning platform, we’ve had to find other ways to encourage campus-wide, community-building initiatives. I’ve begun hosting daily library challenges in which students, faculty, and staff compete in small literary-based competitions to earn house points. During “Fun Friday,” students were tasked with making book spine poetry to celebrate National Poetry Month. I’m also in the process of creating a campus-wide book recommendation list for students and parents based on recommendations from faculty, students, and staff. Though small, my hope is that these initiatives encourage community and connection during this unprecedented time.
Another role of the Forest Ridge library during in-person and digital learning days is to help students and faculty navigate both online and outside resources. At the beginning of the shift to digital learning days, I shared a list of websites and platforms where students can access free ebooks and audiobooks. One of my favorite resources from this list is the Sora platform, which has a wide variety of contemporary, immediately accessible books for youth that don’t have to be placed on hold. Students are automatically registered for an account with this software. Instructions regarding log-in are available on our library page in Veracross. Another one of my favorites is, of course, the ebook apps that students have access to with a public library card. While some people enjoy the act of reading a physical book more than an ebook, it’s comforting to know there are many options to build literacy skills, even during school and public library closures.
Many parents are wondering how to best support students during digital learning days. As your school librarian, I’m here to offer support to all students when campus is closed. Students can always feel free to email me for reading recommendations or tips on where to find access to books. I can also provide digital research support and help students navigate Forest Ridge and outside databases. At home, make space for leisure reading, even if it’s not highly academic in nature. Reading any type of material encourages literacy skills, and it’s more important than ever during this closure that students can turn to familiar characters and stories for comfort. In conclusion, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask what your Forest Ridge library can do for you!