The School Library in the age of Virtual Learning

The School Library in the age of Virtual Learning
Learning Innovation in Education MCO

In this week's blog our Head of Libraries, Rob George, looks at the how Alice Smith School library has responded to the challenges of the pandemic.

reading room in library alice smith school

"Like all aspects of educational provision the school library has not been spared from significant challenges as Covid 19 forced a rapid transition to virtual learning. We pride ourselves on having an amazing library that provides an innovative space for both private study and rest and relaxation reading and within that a large and up-to-date collection for both fiction and nonfiction.

library alice smith school

We have for more than a decade now been building eReading opportunities in support of our hard copy collection and just like our main secondary collection before Covid 19 we felt that these eBooks and Audiobooks were meeting the needs of our school community with over 3,200 eBook titles and over 900 audiobooks.

With students now virtual learning from home a spotlight has been shone on our electronic provision and the news has been both good and bad. We find that our eReading collection has been sufficient to provide strong choices for all of our readers but it is also clear on closer analysis that it is a supporting collection rather than a significant collection in its own right. We are treating this challenge as a positive nudge to accelerate our development of the eCollection so that it can stand alone more comfortably.

BorrowBox logo

Our secondary library’s eBook provision was historically using Wheelers ePlatform but more recently we have migrated most of our content to Bolinda Borrow Box. We have tried to be innovative in developing a viable collection of audiobooks as the average purchase cost of an audiobook for a secondary school library is US$ 60 for a single user license. Thus we have formed a BorrowBox consortium with three other schools that allows us to share audiobooks and it is only by doing this that we are able to present our secondary readers with just over 900 audiobooks to choose from at present.


The average purchase cost of an audiobook for a secondary school library is US$ 60 for a single user license

It is inarguably true that there is a resistance with many readers to embrace eReading but in our needs must situation it is interesting to see our patrons developing a greater acceptance of these alternative mechanisms for reading. For most of us there is still a special place for the tactile feel of a book but on the flip side being able to access a collection on the fly at any time and to have many books in your pocket tips the balance in favour of the new normal.

Press Reader logo

For eReading we provide much more than just eBooks and our other most popular platform for eContent is for newspapers and magazines and for these we experience little or no resistance to eReading. We were one of the first schools globally to make our campuses  PressReader hotspots giving our community access to thousands of newspapers & magazines (754 from the UK) in nearly all imaginable languages. You can download the press reader app from your App store.

It is important to us that we are a community library and all of our eReading provision is accessible not just by students and teachers but also our non-teaching staff and parents as well.

If you have any questions or thoughts about eReading, or you are a current parent and would like access to our collections, our secondary library staff would love to hear from you at"

Author: Rob George, Head of Libraries, Alice Smith School

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