‘Keep calm and read on’

Camden Hills Regional High School’s Edna St. Vincent Millay Library still in business of lending books to students

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 5:00pm

    ROCKPORT — In March 2019, just one year ago, the Camden Hills Regional High School Edna St. Vincent Millay Library circulated 129 books to readers. So far this March, through this unsettled period of history when students are sequestered at home, the library has circulated 365 books.

    How are students getting those books, as well as art supplies? 

    From dedicated staff, like Iris Eichenlaub, librarian/technology integrator and Beth Chamberlin, who got a package of poetry books — Edna St. Vincent Millay and Billy Collins — together for a sophomore student who asked for them. She put carefully packaged the books in a box and sent them on a waiting school bus that was also delivering lunches to the students on March 19.

    “We included a handwritten note and some tiny stickers,” said Eichenlaub.

    Art teacher Carolyn Brown collected a bag of tools for artists, such as a brand new box of pastels, for student home delivery.

    Later, for another student, the library staff filled a bag of food from the library food pantry, added the Manga books the student requested, and a ruler because they didn’t have one at home (with centimeters, for their forensics class).

    That was last week, and just like everything else in the world is quickly changing, the library has adjusted its lending practice. It is, however, still gathering books from the shelves to circulate to students.

    On Friday, March 20, teachers and staff were told their access to the building was to be minimal, given the contagion COVID-19. That prompted Eichenlaub to develop a new plan for students who want to borrow books. 

    Going forward, staff will take book requests by email and then travel to the school once or twice per week to fill the orders. Then, book borrowers are to pick up the books at the school, as opposed to having them delivered via school bus.

    Eichenlaub said she has been receiving requests from students every night for books, “sometimes on behalf of younger siblings or parents.”

    The procedure entails that: “folks will need to come to the school to pick the items up,” she said. “I will bag the books and label the bag with a student’s name and they will be located outside the front entry (locked) doors, or in inclement weather just inside the two sets of doors. I will communicate via email that the ‘order’ is ready for pick up and arrange a time when the student is able to stop by.”

    Requested books are sanitized.

    “We have created a ‘clean table’, wiped daily with sanitizing wipes,” said Eichenlaub. “No one puts anything there except clean and sanitized books. This is where we place checked-out books, wiped down with sanitizing wipes as we check them out with our freshly-sanitized hands. From there we bag them up for quick pick-up.”

    For library specific requests, our number in the library is 236-7800 x3270.
    The Edna St. Vincent Millay Library also has active connections with students and families via social media. Instagram: @ESVM_Library or Facebook @ESVMLibrary (also a source for more photos of our library) 

    Returning books is a different matter:  Eichenlaub said the library does not want the books to return to the library for the time being.

    “For safety and to be cautious, we will not be accepting book returns at this time,” she said. “I am asking that students safeguard their books at home and we will worry about getting the books back at a later date.”
    Students are also able to call the school, 236-7800, with any questions about any of the services the school is offering, such as counseling, food deliveries, getting supplies, trouble with technology, etc. 
    “I am just grateful that we can still get books out to kids and families in some form,” said Eichenlaub.
    She sent the following letter to library users:
    Dear Library-Lovers —
    We are adapting and learning so much right now -- and some really amazing things are happening to keep us connected virtually. We love our ESVM Library family and want to stay connected with you AND keep you apprised of the current state of the services we can offer, as that may change.
    Staying Connected:
    - Good, old-fashioned email iris.eichenlaub@fivetowns.net
    - Instagram @ESVM_Library
    - Facebook @ESVMLibrary
    - ESVM Library Schoology Group 
    - We will post links in the Schoology Group for some virtual library drop-in hours. We tried this on Friday and it was great fun to see some faces and hear some voices. We really miss all of you!
    Harry Potter Read-Aloud!
    Today I am starting a Harry Potter #1 chapter-a-day read-aloud!!! Chapter 1 is already posted on Youtube. Publishers are relaxing their rules for recordings and live readings during this strange time, so the copyright police will not come after me. I figured HP is definitely comfort food for your mind. This is the link to the unlisted playlist [I deleted the link per the publisher’s guidelines for school/education access only.].
    Requesting Books
    - Please email us with a list of titles you are looking for. You can check the catalog remotely. Click on High School, then the word Catalog: https://books.fivetowns.net/cataloging/servlet/presentadvancedsearchredirectorform.do?l2m=Library%20Search&tm=TopLevelCatalog 
    You can also email us with a request for genres or authors or topics and we will make you a stack of books that we think you'll enjoy!

    - Books will be available for pick-up at school - in a bag/box labeled with your name - either in the front entryway (in that little in between space between the two sets of doors) or right outside the main entrance. We are not able to send them with the lunch deliveries anymore. :( I - or Mrs. Chamberlin - will be in touch with you when your "order" is ready for pick-up.
    Returning Books
    Unfortunately we cannot accept any returned books at this time, as we are trying to minimize the complexity for our [bus drivers and] custodial staff and also to keep them healthy! So we just ask that you safeguard your books at home! And we'll worry about getting them back later.
    As always, we love hearing from you if you want to check in at any time! Be well! Keep calm and read on.