3 Ways to Use Classroom Libraries with COVID Concerns

3 Ways to Use Classroom Libraries with COVID Concerns


Independent reading is a huge part of English classrooms. With COVID 19 lurking, English teachers need to make some changes to using their classroom libraries. Don’t worry though, with these simple steps, independent reading and book choice can absolutely continue in your classroom!  

Here are 3 ways to continue to use your classroom library with COVID concerns.

Digital Checkout System

Scholars love to peruse our books, touch them, read the back, flip through to see how many chapters, or to read a few pages to evaluate their interest. This feels like a big downfall with COVID, as we don’t want our students touching the books and returning them for someone else to touch. However, there is always a solution!  You can use a digital checkout system. There are some great ones for organizing classroom libraries and many of them are free! 

  •  Booksource or Libib are great choices. Even better, take the time to inventory your library in one of these systems and use it forever! It may take time in the beginning if your library is large, but totally worth it in the end. 

  • If you know you don’t have the time to set up something like a digital inventory, use Google Slides to introduce a few books at a time. You can have an image, a few pages, and the back cover! This sounds like a great project for students to do too! Can we say book reviews? Our students would be so proud if you were to reuse their work as a classroom library preview! 

  • Another option is using Google forms for check out. If a student wants to check out a book, have them fill out the form and then you can document check out, check in, and everything in between. Simple and effective. 

  • If you're going for simple, have students search titles and descriptions of books in your library on the Internet and that could still be touchless without any of the work on your end!

72 Hour Rule

Now that you have options for check out, let’s talk safety. When a child takes a book home during this pandemic, you may shudder by the thought of it being returned. However, COVID-19 is being studied in multiple settings and reports are claiming that the virus does not continue to live on paper or books after 72 hours. This is great news for classroom libraries. Here are some more ways to keep the library safe for everyone:

  •  Use clear contact paper for your covers so when it is returned the student simply wipes down the cover with a disinfectant wipe. Then it must go into quarantine before the next student can use it. Lysol and other sprays are not recommended, but you can also wipe down the book with a disinfecting wipe.

  • When a book is returned, have the student place it in a specific box for quarantine. You will need a few plastic boxes or you can even use ziplock bags! Mark the date on the plastic with a post-it or an expo marker! 

  • Make your procedures for checking in books clear and make check in days only on Mondays. This helps especially if you do First Chapter Friday, because the books could potentially stay in quarantine for a week making them even safer. If you always choose Monday, the time in quarantine is documented in a very organized way.

Go Digital

If you still feel uneasy about continuing to use your classroom library, there is always the option to go digital.

  • Check out digital library sites like getEpic.com, which has tons to choose from.

  • Find the tons of free PDFs online that are easily accessible. This is especially true for the classics.

  • Lastly, most libraries allow you to borrow ebooks. It may take a lesson or two, but students could easily keep reading your favorites from the safety of their personal devices. 

Safety is obviously number one priority, but students need to be reading. Some libraries remain closed and our students continue to see us as the experts on what they should be reading. (Of course, because we are!) Keep the recommendations coming and keep the books flowing.  Keep using your classroom library with COVID concerns, but do it with precaution and preparation!. COVID has changed our lives, but literacy lives on!


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