Librarians in lockdown: meet Thomas from Lyon

State Library is reaching out to a diversity of libraries in the midst of COVID 19 to meet the staff, (the lockdown librarians), and to hear about how they and their libraries are responding to the crisis.    

Hello, my name is Thomas, I manage the State librarians and State curators training at ENSSIB, the French National Library and Information Science School. We are in Lyon, where we train more than 250 pupils, and have 1050 librarians in lifelong learning modules. We also do research and deliver publications in the fields of Information Science, Librarianship and History of books and libraries.

Like every institution, ENSSIB has been confined since March 16th, when it had to completely rethink its offer, enabling staff to work from home so that services can be delivered without interruption. The first thing to do was to think about the continuity of educational activities. Some students were taking courses or had to take their final exams, so we did our best to rethink classes and examination procedures during those first weeks to minimize disruptions as much as possible. Then, there were students in internship, some of them abroad, and the school had to accompany them to assist them in such situation. When we closed, we kept our online services available (the Ask a Librarian service still answers plenty of questions on library topics), and then we decided to broadly open our resources, making the contents of some remote courses and some of our own professional publications freely accessible. We also offered massive access to the digital resources with free registration for two months. A successful initiative since more than 4,500 French-speaking professionals have registered to access the resources.


In addition, Raphaëlle Bats, the colleague in charge of International Relationship, proposed and led an initiative of building a platform where we would collect our thoughts about libraries and the health crisis. A project made up by several brainstorming sessions with French-speaking professionals around the needs of users, the library spaces, social care, or support measures to be taken at the end of containment. Each episode got its own libguide and synthesis (here is a summary in english of the first session). The seminar brought together more than 1,500 participants during the first session, highlighting the need for discussion and reflection within the profession. A great way to underline the role of librarians and think what will come after.

Now the lockdown is over, but we cannot go back to work yet. The mood is strange, people are willing to work and prepare new ways of delivering the services, but without knowing exactly how deep the Library will be affected.
There’s anticipation, willing to go back on track, but also question marks about the future.

I would say: let us learn from each other! I am convinced that the values that
underpin our actions are even more important and essential today and
that we have a lot to gain by exchanging and learning from each other.
All the best.


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