Anna Wysocka, a Community Story from Poland
I am a graduate in Scientific Information and Library Studies at the University of Warsaw. I have a postgraduate degree in Publishing Policy and Bookselling from the University of Warsaw. For the past five years I have been working at the Public Library in Piaseczno. I am a branch manager in Józefosław and a member and ambassador of the LABiB Association.
I adhere to Google's philosophy: you ‘should have work that is challenging – and the challenge should be the fun part'. I love planning, organising, and coming up with new things all the time. I like when things are happening, I enjoy helping others, I am a team player and I'm interested in animateur activities, organising events, gatherings and actions. That is the reason why I write, organise and implement projects such as: the Literary Map of Piaseczno (Literacka Mapa Piaseczna), Healthy Mother, Healthy Child (Zdrowa mama, zdrowe dziecko), Józefosław and Julianów - in search of identity (Józefosław i Julianów – w poszukiwaniu tożsamości), the Beautiful Book Festival (Festiwal Pięknej Książki), Literary Snacks (Przekąski literackie), and The Universe of Feelings in the World of Books (Wszechświat uczuć w świecie książek). I carry out many initiatives related to reading and participate in national initiatives (Library Night) and worldwide events (World Book Day).
In the field of adult education, I organise author's meetings, meetings with globe trotters, a computer course for seniors, workshops on emotions which are run specifically for parents and educators, and parent-child manual workshops. I also run a creativity club called Strefa KreaTYwni - a place for local residents, where they come to learn new things.
I heard about EPALE from Ambassador Monika Schmeichel-Zarzeczna. Though I have only recently registered on the platform. Thus far I have used the materials, articles, and tools recommended by the ambassadors. It is a source of extremely useful knowledge, which allows me to broaden my competencies and skills.
The current pandemic is having a direct impact on my professional life.
During the period when cultural institutions were closed and professionals worked remotely from home, we had to re-evaluate our vision of what a library is and how its activities are run.
How do we function safely? What can be organised, and in what form? These are the questions I was seeking to answer. I have been wondering what can be done to provide education to adults in the current situation. As a result, I am constantly learning how to use new tools, look for solutions, and implement them.The most difficult part of lockdown was the lack of direct contact with our readers. We were not able to physically meet them in the library, or talk and exchange views, as everyone was confined to their homes. Fortunately, we had access to the Internet! We turned to internet activities and online channels in our hour of need.
One of the initiatives we undertook was the promotion of free online courses, apps and services. The topics available through this online training included: Learning English or another language, courses on marketing, interpersonal skills, change management, problem solving, digital balance, and networking. We posted links to a number of online courses, along with a short description of the platform on the library's Facebook page and website. When receiving a flurry of information it is often unclear what to choose and which courses are really worth doing, therefore we made sure we published platforms that were checked and tested beforehand. I have also personally taken advantage of many courses, and I continue to do so.It has been possible to make even more direct online contact with our readers through our newsletters. Each year, on World Book Day, we hand out books and freshly cut flowers in the library. This year we sent out a newsletter to our readers which contained a specially prepared postcard, virtual roses and books. We received a lot of positive feedback. Readers thanked us for the virtual gifts and told us how they missed us and the library.Other attractions made available for readers were quizzes and an escape room.Participants could learn more about the library and test their knowledge by solving the quiz prepared in the Genially application.To mark Library Week we always prepare an interesting offer for the local residents.
This time round we could not meet physically in the library. Worry not, dear readers, as the online Escape room has been waiting for adventurous people, with puzzles and riddles to be solved!
The game was addressed to adults and families, and designed for them to have fun together. The game was prepared at https://wizer.me/, but the answers had to be written down on pieces of paper – a little change from the constant clicking of the mouse. Lots participated in the game and thanked us for giving them the opportunity to have a good time. The participants received their prizes once the library reopened.
Subsequent to the partial reopening of the libraries (during which members of the public were not yet allowed to enter) the lists with newly released titles worked well. Thanks to these lists our readers have been able to check what new titles we have on offer and in what format they are available. The lists with the new titles were posted on the library's website and Facebook page, as well as being sent via the newsletter. They were created on the Microsoft Sway platform, and then on the library's website.After the publication of the list, the readers immediately ordered new publications. Phones, e-mails and orders via the online catalogue came flooding in. Everyone wanted to be the first to read the new books or audiobooks. After libraries have been fully opened for readers, we continued to create these lists. Readers praise them and comment that they would rather browse through the list than look for new titles on the shelf, because they may have already been rented out.
What about events? How can you carry out a book exchange when you cannot put books on display or allow readers to browse and choose the books themselves?
There is a way! You can put a bookcase behind the counter, display books and recommend specific titles to your readers. Everyone has been able to find something suitable for them - a crime story, a biography, a novel or a series of ‘how to’ books. The initiative was very popular and the readers were pleasantly surprised by, and thankful for, the free books which they received.The most important thing is to keep in touch with your readers; preferably in a creative way. It’s important to remember not to overwhelm them with news, but to choose content that is relevant and valuable to them. Contact with co-workers is also very important - providing support for each other, providing help in using Internet tools, or coming up with joint ideas for new activities. Together you can do more, and you can do it better!