Library offers online opportunities for students during pandemic

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Alida Hanson

Librarians Alida Hanson and Catherine Azez work in-person at the WHS library.

Joy Han, Staff Writer

This year, activity in the library might seem a little unusual—everyone is wearing masks, and the space is a bit emptier than in years past. That’s because the library has changed directions by creating a myriad of online offerings available to students despite the pandemic. 

Even though the library remains open, in-person activity has diminished due to COVID-19.

“The library last year used to be a very busy place,” explained library paraprofessional Catherine Azez. “This year, [Mrs. Hanson] worked more on putting some resources online.” 

The library has also been unable to hold some of its more interactive activities this year, such as one station where students take apart old technology. 

“Typically, during the year, we’ll have different projects for people to do in the library, where you’re actually touching things or trying things,” said Alida Hanson, the WHS librarian. “I hope that we have that back in place next year when the virus is more under control.”

As a result of this year’s limitations, the librarians highly recommend that students take a look at online resources.

“You have so many things available to you in addition to your regular Google searches,” Hanson said. “[This could be] for yourself, for your own interests, and also for school.”

For example, the library has purchased technology and electronic materials to suit students’ needs. Extensive databases are all available online, including Sora or hoopla for audiobooks/ebooks, as well as Kanopy for movies.

“I have enjoyed having access to hoopla since COVID started,” said Cynthia Brisky, a Strategies teacher. “I do like being able to read books through hoopla, which Mrs. Hanson hooked me up with.”

Additionally, one other important facet of the library is missing in-person this year: its clubs and activities. Instead, the Breakfast Book club, run by Hanson, has continued to meet at night via Zoom. The club is in its third year and is open to new members. 

“We usually meet monthly and we read a choice of book that we all decide on,” stated junior Julia Chow, who will be the club’s president next year. 

Chow hopes to expand the group’s horizons in future years, especially after COVID-19 subsides. 

“I’m definitely going to make more events for us to bond because I want to get to know more students,” Chow said. “It’s going to be completely different next year because we’re in a pandemic now.”

Similarly, the library is also taking the initiative to collaborate remotely with the community in other ways. 

“This year, our special project is to make the cookbook,” Hanson shared. “We are gathering recipes from the community from the staff and the students at WHS of recipes that they’ve made during COVID.” 

Recipe submissions will be compiled into a unique cookbook for all to read. Hanson hopes it can serve as a reminder of quarantine days. 

“There’s really a lot of memories attached to the food we ate during this time and I thought it would be nice if we could share that with each other in a digital project,” Hanson explained. 

For some participants, the cookbook project serves as a way of filling in the gaps while they can’t visit the library themselves. 

“I haven’t been able to enjoy the library in person this year,” said Elizabeth Riemer, who teaches remotely. “I love the idea of a cookbook, so I was eager to contribute!”

Nevertheless, the library staff hopes to connect with students face-to-face soon. 

“This year was just [very strange],” Hanson said. “Hopefully next year, we’ll have a little more of our old magic back.”