Library staff stays determined, despite virtual challenges


Ilia Duckler

Caption: Lincoln librarian Lori Lieberman is continuing to help students find books during online school. She is also teaching a new elective called Reading Seminar.

One of the fundamental parts of Lincoln’s library was the environment it created. Whether students wanted to work on homework or meet up with their friends, the library created a quiet space for all. With access to computers, plush chairs, and hundreds of books, the library was a destination spot for students. With school beginning virtually this year, libraries are among the services impacted. 

Over the last three years, Lincoln’s librarian Lori Lieberman has been able to point students in the direction of new reads; students commended Lieberman on recommending books that fit their interests according to Lieberman. She was always there with suggestions for students that needed to check out books for fun reading or for a school assignment. 

This year, students will be able to check out and pick up books this year through the library website. The “Request a book” link at the top of the website will lead students to a Google Form where they can request a certain book or let Lieberman recommend a book based on a small survey. After completing this survey, students can pick the book up at Lincoln at the main entrance near the gym. 

Senior Adriana Agudelo is the leader of Lincoln Library Book Club. Agudelo found the shift to distance learning a struggle for the club.

 “Last [spring], the club dissipated,” she said. “We didn’t do anything with [the club] because everyone was adjusting.”

This year, she hopes that the switch to book club over Google Meet will be smooth. Her anticipated difficulty, however, is students not having the same access to resources as they would in-person at Lincoln. 

“One thing that is hard is communication and getting people to show up,” said Agudelo. 

Lincoln’s book clerk, Pamela Royal, has also been impacted by distance learning. Royal was one of the staff in charge of the textbook pick-up this year and making sure students had everything they needed for distance learning.

“I feel like my whole job [has] changed because I’m not being able to readily get those books into your hands,” Royal said.

This year, Royal has spent the majority of her time ordering books for classes. Though students are weeks into school, only 60% of the books have arrived and been delivered to students. 

Though distance learning has created a daunting new environment, Lieberman has found a bright spot.

“I’m actually teaching a reading elective [this year],” said Lieberman. “That’s something I could never do before COVID-19.” 

This new class is called Reading Seminar, which students can take as an elective during 3rd period. During class, students will be free to read the books they choose and write a short book review after finishing. There will be guest speakers that drop in to give advice and answer questions, and students will be taught writing and social skills by reaching out to authors. 

The library has also been considering different types of book services to get students reading. 

“We’re also going to be investing in e-books and audiobooks,” Lieberman said. “Just like Multnomah County has lots of e-books and audiobooks through the Libby app, we will also have audiobooks and e-books through SORA.”

SORA is an app that allows students to access these different types of books through Lincoln.

According to Lieberman, students have been advocating for using physical books so they can take a break from their screens. During online classes, students spend a minimum of 2.5 hours a day looking at their computers.

Students at Lincoln will no longer have the physical connection to the library that they once had. Lieberman agrees that it was a place where students could always go to. 

“I think the library at Lincoln is one of the more enjoyable places for students to hang out,” she said. “I really miss all the students there.”