Library Adapts to COVID-19 Circumstances

     Despite the unpredictable year, the library is back in business! Taking the necessary health and safety precautions and maintaining social distance, Ms. Tichacek has been able to reach out to students both online and in person to assist with research and reading, and she has plenty of exciting new programs coming soon.

     The library is an important resource for students, but in order for it to be open for use, necessary health and safety precautions must be taken. Because of this, many changes have been made to the layout of the library. Computers and desks are still available, but each are placed six feet apart. The four-person tables have been replaced by desks, and, just like Fenwick classrooms, each desk is cleaned between use.

     Desks are limited, and so is library capacity, so students must sign up to use the library by filling out a Google form found on the “Library Info and Resources” Schoology page. This form can also be found on Fenwick’s website by clicking on the John Gearen Library. Simply fill in your name, and select which time you plan on using the library.

     Checking out a book is just as simple as reserving library time. You can still check out a book by visiting the library in person, but using the library’s website keeps borrowing books contactless and safe. First, access the library website by visiting the “Library Info and Resources” page. Click on the “Library Online Catalog” link under the “Resources” tab. This will take you directly to the library’s website. Alternatively, you can visit Fenwick’s website and select the “John Gearen Library” tab. At the bottom of the page, there is a link for the online catalog.

     To log into your account, use your student ID as both the username and password. Now, you can check out any book available in Fenwick’s library! Click on the book and select quick reserve, and within 24 hours, the book will be safely delivered directly to your classroom.

     Another helpful resource implemented by Ms. Tichacek is her daily Zoom office hours. Students can stop by at any point during the blocked out Zoom hours and receive help with research, learn to use library resources, or say hello to Ms. Tichacek.

     Ms. Tichacek says that she is happy to help students with any questions, and loves it when students stop by to chat about school or their recent reads.

     Last year, programs like the “Read For A Lifetime” challenge and student book club encouraged students to read for enjoyment. This year, Fenwick is holding its own reading challenge created by Ms. Tichacek. This program, “Unheard Voices,” focuses on inspiring students to read books by a variety of authors with different experiences and backgrounds. Ms. Tichacek hopes to shine a spotlight on a racially diverse cast of authors whose voices have been ignored or quieted. Ms. Tichacek spent the summer narrowing down a long list of books looking for the ones she thought would best bring new stories and experiences to the table. She finally selected seventeen modern works and has written summaries about each one.

     In order to complete the program, students must read three of the books and complete three projects (one for each book).

     The first project is to write a letter to the author of the book explaining how reading their work has opened your mind or changed your thinking. This project ties into the “Letters About Literature” contest, which requires students to write a letter to the author of a book that changed them in some way. Winners of this contest receive a $1000 prize, and runner-ups will be awarded $200.

     The second project is to write a book review. This encourages students to reflect on what they have read and whether or not they think that it is a worthwhile read for others.

     The final project is to write a letter to a Friar explaining how reading one of the books has changed your opinions and influenced your actions.

     Mrs. Tichacek hopes that this project will encourage students to embrace each other’s differences and value divergent opinions. Mrs. Tichacek is putting the finishing touches on the Unheard Voices program and plans to release it late October.

     The student book club, run by Mrs. Tichacek is also in full swing. This year, the book club is reading graphic novels and meeting over Zoom. Meetings are later in the day to accommodate athletics and other clubs. New members are always welcome, and Mrs. Tachecek would love you to join!

     Despite the many challenges presented by COVID-19, the library is stopping for nothing! Social distancing procedures and online book check-out and delivery make reading and researching easier than ever. Student book club is up and running, and new members are always welcome. Make sure to look out for the Unheard Voices reading program, and don’t hesitate to stop by on zoom or in person to say hello to Mr. Tichacek!