National Library Week: The library goes virtual

Until mid March, the library at Benjamin Franklin International Exploratory Academy was a hub for students looking for a quiet place to read, take a break or just think. When COVID-19 forced everyone to stay home, librarian Rose Badia decided that neither a global pandemic nor a statewide school closure was going to keep her from providing her students a version of that space.

“It’s important to keep that going,” said Badia, who has been a librarian at Dallas ISD since 2007, first at Skyline High School and now at Franklin Middle School. This year, she was one of five national finalists for the 2020 School Librarian of the Year, given by the School Library Journal in recognition of outstanding work in using 21st-century tools to engage children and teens in fostering multiple literacies.

Badia recalled the last days at the school this spring were spent issuing laptops to each Franklin Academy student in preparation for the possibility that Dallas ISD would be closed indefinitely to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. She started planning right then and there.

“I talk to kids a lot. I make a connection with them,” she said. “I knew I needed to start planning to keep that going, to do the same with them that I do when they come to the library.”

Her routine on a normal week in the physical library involves hosting classes, teaching research techniques, and reserving Fridays to check out books. She figured remoteness was no excuse to keep the doors to the library shut.

On Badia’s first remote library visits, which she offers three days a week, she set up a cooking segment from her kitchen—jaunty beret and all—to take students through a cookie recipe and then discuss a book about cookies.

“I wanted something cool they could do at home with their families,” she said. “I found a book about cookies and a recipe for peanut butter cookies. I had about 27 students and teachers join in.”

Later in the week, she got emails from parents telling her that their children had made the cookies at home.

“That’s what I was looking for,” she said. “The library needs to be part of every family.”

Most recently, she taught participants how to tie-dye a T-shirt.

She dedicates Wednesdays to tech literacy to share online resources with students and their parents. On Fridays, the group reads stories, sometimes in Spanish. On Tuesdays, she works with the counselor The Family place—who used to visit the school—to share tips for life like time management and the best ways to effectively learn from home

“I want my library to be active and be part of the community, as all libraries should be,” she said.




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