CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Ask Alex: Librarian in Lockdown

Category: Blog, Branches and Groups

Dear Alex,

I’m struggling being a school librarian during lockdown.  I feel very isolated; I’ve had very little correspondence with my work colleagues, and I’ve had no interaction with my pupils.  I’m not sure how to continue doing my job without being in my library. 



Librarian in Lockdown


Dear Librarian in Lockdown,

First, please know that you are not alone.  We are all adjusting to working remotely.  Feeling isolated is very real, and you may not be getting a lot of direction from your management team about how to fulfil your role.  SLG Scotland is a community where you can connect with librarians, share resources, and voice frustrations – especially during this difficult time.

Recognise that your job is only one part of your life in lockdown.  You will have other commitments, such as family obligations and possibly childcare.  Prioritise your mental and physical health and the needs of your family above any work commitments.  You may need to communicate this with your employer, but it is important to recognise that your working and personal life are different at the moment, and some adjustments will need to be made.

Here are some tips we have found useful while working remotely:

Define your essential priorities

You will not be able to do everything remotely that you could do in your physical library.  Dedicate some time to establish what you think the essentials of your service are that you can do remotely.  For example, if you have an eResource collection, maintaining access to the collection for your users would be one of your priorities.  Pick a maximum of three essential services, and then consider additional projects if you have the time and resources.

Structure your time

Once you establish what services you can still offer, create a timetable for yourself.  You will need to be flexible, but knowing that certain blocks of your day are dedicated to working on a specific project will help you to maintain focus and be productive.

Develop your skills

Use this time to work on your CPD, including chartership from CILIP.  This is an ideal time to review your PKSB.  Investigate what training you can access online.  SLG Scotland will be suggesting some resources in their newsletter.  Librarian Sarah Pavey has listed some excellent suggestions on the slgtalkingbooks blog. You can also review the national strategy for school libraries, or the How Good is Our School Library? Guides.

Find ways to communicate with your users

Users are at the heart of any library service.  Consider communicating with staff and pupils using:

  • Email newsletters
  • Kahoot! Quizzes
  • Screencasts
  • Zoom or other video conferencing (following your school’s guidelines)
  • Updating your library blog or website. Try thinking of new reading challenges or competitions.  What ‘Lockdown Literature’ would you suggest to each year group?

Take things one day at a time…

We hope these suggestions have given you some inspiration for your own situation.  Some days will be better than others.  Completing projects might take longer than normal, but you will find new ways to serve your users and offer the best service possible during these unprecedented times.  You will gain confidence in new skills and emerge a better, more resourceful information professional.



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