This year has been challenging for the specialists in our school. Students stay in their classrooms for all of the specials, with the exception of gym. We always get a smile on our faces when we see Mrs. Byrer, the librarian, come into our class with her “traveling library.” We have so much fun during our library class learning about technology as we watch all the cool videos she has made for us.

We can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for her traveling from room to room with all of her equipment and books for us, so we thought we would ask her about all the changes she has had to make this year. Here is our interview with Mrs. Byrer.

Brody and Chamberlain: How has your teaching changed this year?

Mrs. Byrer: I have increased my use of technology in classes with useful and fun activities. We have access to so many different tech tools that help us communicate with each other and create new things. We actually have a whole new library resource this year for students and teachers to borrow e-books and audiobooks on their devices. I also started creating videos in the spring and have continued to learn how to do new things with technology to help my students.

B and C: Who has had to adjust more, students or you teachers?

Mrs. Byrer: I think that the kids and the teachers have all had to make really big adjustments, because this year has been so different for so many reasons.

B and C: Where does the library take place this year?

Mrs. Byrer: Library classes take place in the classrooms this year and we bring a selection of books for students to check out.

B and C: It must be hard for you to adjust to all the things that 2020 has brought to the world.

Mrs. Byrer: I keep reminding myself with every story there is a beginning, a middle and an ending. Eventually we're going to come to the end of this story, too. We are living through history right now and we are in the middle of this story. You guys are literally creating history! When I say that I mean that the articles you are writing about going to school during the COVID pandemic will live on forever. So when people, years from now, want to know what life was like during this time, they will be able to read your articles and find out what it was like going to school in 2020.

B and C: What is the hardest part about teaching in the library, not in the pandemic, but overall?

Mrs. Byrer: The hardest part about teaching library, I think, is helping kids learn how to evaluate a website, teaching kids how to recognize if a website is good to use for research. It's a challenge to help. It’s a challenge to make sure everyone gets their just-right book so that all school kids will enjoy reading as much as I do.

B and C: Can kids check out books this year? If so, how do they do that? Has the amount of books being checked out changed this year?

Mrs. Byrer: Yes, students can check out library books this year. Instead of kids coming down to find books, we bring the library books to the classrooms. I bring my computer and a barcode scanner up to the room. Everyone can check out one book per week, since we need to quarantine the returned books. Kids use technology to request specific titles or authors. Students’ access to e-books and audiobooks has increased, which provided kids with additional reading options. These are great options for students when and if we need to go remote.

B and C: Describe a day in the life of you.

Mrs. Byrer: I start my day by getting ready for classes, checking emails and organizing the library. I bring my computer and supplies into classrooms on a cart. I spend time working with students on library lessons in the classrooms for part of my day. My other time is spent cataloging, repairing, checking in and shelving books. I spend time working on projects and planning my classes.Teachers also ask for help with book requests and we have meetings sometimes, too.

B and C: Is it stressful teaching library this year?

Mrs. Byrer: Yes, this year has been a stressful school year for me. We are trying hard to follow new safety precautions and it is challenging when we cannot predict what could happen next. Things can change so quickly. We switched to remote (red) and hybrid (yellow) this year already. It’s good that everyone is working together to make school successful even though it can be unpredictable.

We are a good team and that helps to make it less stressful

B and C: What is the biggest change for the library that happened because of COVID-19?

Mrs. Byrer: Specialists are traveling into classrooms this year and not sharing as many spaces as in the past. Also, no students are searching the shelves for their own books. We are making it work. Older students are able to request books using technology. I try to bring a great selection of awesome books and pick ones that I hope kids will enjoy to each classroom when I come to do my lesson. I fill my cart full of books that kids can choose from.

B and C: When will we be able to go back to the library?

Mrs. Byrer: I hope we can use the library space next school year when you guys are in fifth grade.

We think it really is awesome that the specialists go from room to room instead of the students going to their room. That way the students stay safe.

Reprinted from The COVID Classroom, a newspaper started by students in Nancy Nickerson's fourth grade class at Capt. Albert W. Stevens School about what it is like to attend school during the pandemic.