Role of School Librarian in Post Covid times: A reality

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According to the CBSE manual which highlights the factors involved for accreditation of any school, the library is an essential factor. Or rather a mandatory feature for a school. Yet very little has been done to improve the status of school libraries and school librarians over the years. There is no particular governing body or school association where school librarians can put forward their grievances or share their desire for improvement via training and special instruction. The professional course for librarianship does not prepare for a career in school librarianship. It does cover academic libraries but the starting point of any child’s education which is school and the school library is given a passing mention. Besides training in classification and cataloging not much is there concerning a school library.

School Libraries are the heart of any institution. A school with a well-stocked library and a proactive trained librarian will always be an edge above the others. Schools with well-functioning libraries show better performance in language, communication skills, research and helps in creating 21st-century learners. The role of a school librarian has undergone an immense transition in the past few years. From being a mere bookkeeper, he/she is now known as an information specialist, library program coordinator, research coordinator, library, and media specialist. The list is long. The worrying side of this story is that there is no parity in this among the school librarians. Not all are given the same respect or have the same magnitude in their professional lives.

In many schools, there is still the need for an awakening that a librarian can do much more beyond books if he/she is given an opportunity and essential training. This was best revealed under the circumstances post-Covid, where innovative school librarians stepped up and showed the world that we are education warriors. But do we get due credit?? The answer is sadly no. Post-Covid, librarians across the world had to take on a heavy yoke which most often carried no relief or reward.

My counterparts across the world lost their jobs as it is easy for a school that is functioning online mostly, to do away with a librarian since it works in a physical set-up. Little do these realize the negative impact of this action. Schools fail to see the significance of engaging a librarian in online teaching. When the world suddenly moved to digital mode, they needed to take the librarian and use the skills to help the school community. Cost cutting and strict budgets made librarians lose their jobs than other professionals in a school set-up.

In the Pre- Covid times, schools, where the librarian did nothing more than the mundane lending and borrowing of books, saw the maximum backlash of cost-cutting. The job was not required Post-Covid and hence removed without any guilt.

If I talk about India the situation only gets worse. In government schools, there is no librarian in most cases. In schools where there is a librarian, he/she has been asked to go on indefinite leave putting it under a slightly soft umbrella of a sabbatical. In private/ public schools, the scene is better though not completely. In some schools where the Heads understand and appreciate the value of a librarian, the staff has been engaged in online library lessons where the librarian connects with the students remotely with storytelling lessons, read-aloud sessions, etc. These librarians have surfaced as education warriors in India wherein they took the mantle of connecting students with books through the digital medium. Library crossed the physical borders and reached the homes of each child. Librarians made resources available to support teaching and learning through blogs, virtual libraries, E libraries, and so on.  Some librarians have been assigned co-teaching duties, teaching other subjects like language skills & GK, after school activities for reading clubs, or engaging in debates, competitions, and school events. During this pandemic, librarians have taken on different roles which are distinct from their usual role. But it must not be mistaken in believing that the position of a librarian is anything less or something that can be relegated. It is rather a time to recognize the librarians as highly adaptive, flexible, and versatile.

On the ground level, the key issues remain the same. Lack of training in digital tools, the undervalued role of the librarian, lack of understanding from Heads, increasing use of librarian as an activity teacher, all contribute to the position of a Librarian being undermined and not given the due worth we deserve.

Liam & Maverick Fight Germs and Viruses: A Masked Superhero and his Loyal Assistant Uncover the Secrets to Fight the Pandemic by Molly Peterson

Liam & Maverick Fight Germs and Viruses: A Masked Superhero and his Loyal  Assistant Uncover the Secrets to Fight the Pandemic eBook: Peterson, Molly:  Amazon.in: Kindle Store

Liam & Maverick Fight Germs and Viruses: A Masked Superhero and his Loyal Assistant Uncover the Secrets to Fight the Pandemic is a lovely book for kids – especially during a pandemic when children are spending time indoors, cooped inside their respective homes. This book helps explain what a pandemic is and what a virus is. It offers help and imparts knowledge which is easy to understand and comprehend for small children. The author, Molly Peterson, has beautifully explained the need to wear masks and the need of hand washing.

The plot is simple and endearing. Liam is a young boy who steps out with his pet dog Maverick to play with his friends. Even though he doesn’t fully understand the gravity of the situation, neither does he understand the virus fully. Yet Liam complies with the instructions and follows them dutifully for the safety of his loved ones. When he reaches the park where his friends are playing he is shocked to see them flouting all rules. None of them has a mask and they aren’t maintaining social distancing either. He goes up to them and asks about it. They reply that one does not need to wear mask outside. When Liam tells them otherwise they laugh at him and ignore him. Liam then takes it into his own hands, along with his faithful dog Maverick, to teach his friends about the virus and how to be safe for the sake of our loved ones.

A delightful and engaging book from the start. The author has made sure that all details are well met for the prerequisite of a children’s book. The font size is just correct for reading and it’s written in capitals, making it easy for children of any age to read. The language is very simple and easy to understand. The illustrations in the book just add more charm to the text and make the book self-explanatory.

I would recommend this book to all parents and librarians since it helps understand not just the pandemic, the virus and safety. It also imparts other important lessons and values like friendship, discipline, obedience, courage and love for our elders.

It is a fetching and endearing book that all elders would enjoy with young children.

I received an ARC of the book in exchange of honest review of the book. My views are my own and are not biased or influenced by the author or publisher.

Pigeon Mothers by Marty Correia

Pigeon Mothers by Marty Correia | Reedsy Discovery

Pigeon Mothers caught my attention due to its unique title and the book cover. The cover shows a pigeon mother keeping a watchful eye on her young children. The story of the book also runs parallel to this idea.

The novel is about a young girl named Cole. She is a white girl who is left to collect the pieces of her life when her father dies. Cole and her mother Helen are left behind in a relationship that never existed in the first place. The young girl feels anchorless and lost after her father’s death. Helen, her mother does nothing to salve the pain. The pieces of her life seem to fall apart when after the neighborhood bully beats her up she discovers that she’s an adopted child. The truth sinks in her and she realizes why the relationship with Helen was barren at best. Cole comes to know that her real/birth mother, Janet wants her back. She runs away to Coney Island where destiny plays a cruel trick and brings her in contact with Janet only to be snatched away due to Janet’s criminal schemes which ultimately lead to her arrest. The young girl, Cole is broken-hearted and left distraught at this change of events and feels more orphaned than ever. In the midst of this chaos, her adoptive mother Helen begins to feel the rising emotions of motherhood and tries to convince Cole to give her another chance. Does Cole reunite with Helen? Or does Janet come back and revive what was lost? It needs to be read

Pigeon Mothers could have been better if not for the lengthy descriptions of the scene which really do not add to the story instead worked against the flow of the narrative. There is too much background before the actual action takes place which makes it a dull read. I really had to stick to it till the end to know what happened. This could have been avoided by leaving out the descriptions. Too many character names too are dropped from time to time which can confuse the reader and draw away from the actual story.

This could have been literary brilliance if the author could have paid attention to the flow of events rather than giving background information for readers. Set in 1986 in Bridgeport, CT and Coney Island, NY, the story is realistic as it is based on first-hand knowledge of how working-class and desperate people survive.

For me this book fails to deliver what it really could.

I received an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. The views expressed are personal and are not biased or partial towards the author or publisher.

Lost in You by Kally Khan

Lost in You by Kally Khan

This is the first time I am disappointed in a book. The book started off with an excellent plot and really makes you want to read further. The beginning is really hard-hitting and the characters are all life-like with human flaws and mistakes. None of the characters seem fictional or drawn out. The best part about the book is the characters who seem like the people we meet in our daily lives. Interaction and camaraderie are very well written and add that extra flair to reading.

The plot begins with Kaia, a beautiful and confident girl speaking her mind. She speaks about her love, Adam, who loves her fiercely despite all odds. Yet things are not as they seem. Beneath the calm surface, there is a storm raging within her. The epicentre of the storm is her past, and the pain and betrayal she experiences from her mother. Kally Khan does a marvellous job in leading up to the part where Kaia speaks about her past in her parents’ home.

The story then takes a downslide or rather it seems that the author couldn’t understand which way to go. Kaia goes to live with Adam. Soon the routine kills the spark between them and she is attracted to another man leading to an affair. This set up seems rushed and not well dealt with.

The ending is hurried and does not meet the run-up of the story. Kaia is the only character who is well sketched out, others are just like caricatures that could have been well fleshed out if given more time.

Some poignant points are dealt with beautifully in the book, like parenting and how often we place parents on a pedestal and forget that they are humans too and can err. Then there is the topic of betrayal and child abuse.

A good book that had the potential to be an excellent read had the author not rushed to end the book and give the ending a little more time.

I received an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. The views expressed are my own and are not biased towards the author or publisher.

The Old Black Curtain by C J Paxton

The Old Black Curtain by C.J. Paxton

Everyone has often heard or used the phrase, ‘Looks can be deceptive’. This phrase exactly fits this book. The Old Black Curtain by CJ Paxton is a tour de force. The book cover is does not reflect what goes on in the book. At first glance I thought it must be some mystery, but was taken by sheer surprise by the author. The book delivers more than it seemed it would. Paxton as an author has not only written from the heart but also manages to reach the heart of the reader.

A very simple story takes unexpected turns leaving you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happened. The novel begins with the main character Michael Murphy getting over his divorce proceedings, which leaves him battered and heart broken. This was not enough of a blow from life; he then receives news about the death of his aunts who had practically raised him and his elder brother. The aunts have left him their legacy – a quaint bookshop in Victoria left in charge of a young lady, Catherine Miller. The plot then catches pace when Michael reaches Victoria to pay respects to his aunts and to look after the bookshop. Little had he expected that he would fall for the librarian cum book keeper Ms. Miller. Ms. Miller is anything but enigmatic, a mystery in herself. She does not let people come close and keeps her guard up. The ensuing pages left me warm fuzzy feeling as their romance brewed, fresh like spring. The love is pure and developed on the foundation of trust and respect. Do not be fooled though as not all is a bed of roses. Catherine has a secret that made her lose trust in people and always watch over her shoulder. What is the secret? Will it come in the way of their beautiful relationship? That needs to read, I will not spoil the fun.

Paxton as author has written a beautiful book that seems real as characters are life like and not blown out of proportions. Their emotions, struggles and insecurities are something each reader can identify with. The title seems to be a metaphor for the insecurity each one of us has that stops us from meeting our true potential/heights. Michael’s presence bolsters Catherine’s confidence. We too have people/friends who act as catalyst in our lives.

The book throws some meaningful insights about friendship and relationship where it teaches us to have mutual respect for each other and to let the other person open up at their own pace. There are life lessons too for the readers that will make you come back and read the book. The songs in the book are not only heart rendering but also perfectly depict the struggles and turmoil of Catherine.

The ending though was like a kick in the gut, unexpected and left me gasping for air. Pick this book for sure and you will not be disappointed. It’s a mature romance between real people with real emotions and real struggles. Do carry some tissues, it will play with your heart.

I received an ARC of the book in exchange of an honest review. My views are unbiased and not influenced by the author or publisher.

The Cries of the Butterfly by Rajeev Roy

The Cries of the Butterfly by Rajeev Roy

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Rating:5/5

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. My views are not influenced or have any bias for the writer or publisher.

I don’t know where to begin with to review this masterpiece. In the beginning I was skeptical about the story since the title seemed to be fragile. I was expecting floodgates of tears with a melodrama rolling. Nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught of emotions that I faced while turning each page. Each page compelled me to read further. It was with a dejected heart that I kept the book down when it ended, wanting to read more.

This is not just a family saga, but an emotional journey of several characters whose lives are intertwined with each other. Each story is unique and heart rendering. The characters are all believable and at times you would find yourself associating some nature traits with someone you know.

The author does a marvelous job of giving an introduction to the backdrop of the novel. The prologue though a long one creates a perfect setting for the book. Yet I am stuck looking for words to praise the work that deserves an applause.

The story is a chain upon chain of stories of the main characters. Its hard to decide where one ends and the other begins. To giveaway the crucial links would mean unraveling the pleasures hidden in the stories. The novel is set in New Halcyon, which is a sovereign city-state in the North Pacific Ocean.

The novel is in essence the story of three butterflies :Wolf Butcher, Savannah and an innocent child, Robin. It is their cries or rather their silent cries that forms the crux of the novel. Wolf butcher is a famous actor and also the youngest member of the Butcher family, who rule New Halcyon. He is deeply in love with Savannah, a beautiful woman with a sordid past. His life takes a dive when in a flash he loses all that he holds precious; his family and his beloved daughter. Robin and Savannah become his lifeline and reason to resuscitate to life again.

Life had other plans for him. Just when he feels that he can settle down, he is thrown into a tumultuous ride of his life where he needs to choose between Savannah and Robin. What ensues after that will keep readers on the edge. Just when you think you can predict the next events, the author lands with an unpredictable twist leaving you out of air.

It is love story, a family saga, a story of parental love, of friendship, of forgiveness and an all encompassing love. This book will definitely restore your faith and belief in the goodness of the human heart. The author leaves no page upturned in giving a glimpse of the inner workings of the characters. Be it their pain, their sorrow, their fears, their passion or simply their cries. Each emotion is reflected and makes way into your heart. You will cry out aloud in pain with them , rejoice in their happiness, coil in fear with them and feel one with them.

PS.: Be sure you carry tissues. This will make you cry in pain, with happiness, in fear and in grief. A must recommend for all.

Sydney and Emma and the Untold Tales of Snailsville by Nikki Jordan

Shop | LOTOS International | Nikki Jordan

Rating: 2.5/5

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Animal Fiction, Fantasy

There was a lot of expectation from the book given the lovely illustrations which immediately catch the eye. But I was disappointed in the execution of the story which otherwise could have been a delightful read.

The book starts with an introduction to Snailsville, an imaginary land inhabited by snails and other animals like ants, cockroaches, spiders, birds, etc. The land is interspersed with crystals, each with unique power of its own. These crystals help the inhabitants in times of distress, yet another provides healing power. If not for the cute illustrations that are simply adorable, I would not have kept reading. There are too many descriptions about the land and the characters which inhabit it. The descriptions could have been avoided and instead merged with the main story. It would have read better and not disrupt an otherwise nice story. The descriptions about the various crystals, their power and the various character descriptions at the start make reading tedious.

Had the author begun with story and then added details in between, I guess it would have read better. Being a book meant for children it lacks the quality to hold on to their attention which gets diverted easily. The story is well defined and the characters too are lively and captivating. The rendition of the whole story fails to attract as a complete package.

Plot: Snailsville is a fictional land, inhabited by all types of birds, animals and insects. They live together in perfect harmony and are synchronized with their inner self. They work together in perfect symmetry with nature, without disturbing its balance. Each creature has a role assigned and he/she executes the same with perfection. The main plot revolves around Sydney and Emma, two snails who have acquired the age to meet their soulmates. Both fall in love with each other and their union is celebrated by one and all. Things get disrupted when the tides change and the land gets flooded. All the animals join hands to help each other, big or small, irrespective of size. Together they brace against the tides and come together hand in glove to rebuild their community.

The story beautifully exhibits the values of kindness, compassion, courage, empathy, strength of character, willpower and the strength of being one as a community.

A good read for children if descriptions can be skipped.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. My views are not influenced or have any bias for the writer or publisher.

Second chance: Kavita Bhatnagar

I received an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review of the book. My views are not influenced by the author or publisher and are completely unbiased.

It is rather rare in today’s time that a gem like this gets written. Simply put, most authors do not like the truth of life because it does not sell in commercial writing. Usually the plots have a feel good factor and some hot steamy scenes to ppe up the X factor. But here is this book which describes life just the way it is. Unfair, but you learn to live around it.

The plot begins with the main protagonist Ragini ending her divorce proceedings. She is supported by her elder sister, Kamini, who remains her pillar of strength and sanity throughout the book. Ragini is just 26 years old. A banker with a good settled job and looks to die for. But that does not make for a happy life now does it?? She was married to Kadamb, her senior in college. Nothing is what it seems like and her world of love comes crumbling down when faced with money minded in-laws who saw their daughter-in-law as a money vending machine. This however does not diminish her hopes in finding love and the quest for a right partner. The tragedy does not make her bitter and she is rather determined to remarry. What ensues further makes up the rest of the book.

Ragini registers herself in one the matrimonial sites for divorced people. Seeking her second chance, she looks for a prospective profile. Through this profile search, author Kavita has done a fabulous role of commenting on the treatment/behaviour a divorced woman is met with by the society, especially males. She is seen as desperate and readily available for a fling since she is divorced. The reason for divorce is never looked up as a woman who is divorced is always wrong. In other words, bold and fast(cheap morale) women get divorced, and not women from respectable homes. Men are never questioned, rather they are sympathised with mostly.

Kavita Bhatnagar also highlights the callous nature of these matrimonial sites where any one can register themselves and send requests to profile, at times conning women with romance scam into phone sex and so on. Each prospective suitor that fails is a commentary on the men in Indian society. They are progressive only for namesake and if it suits their conditions and needs. If a woman agrees to meet you or takes the initiative to call then she is taken as forward and an invitation for casual sex. But is it??? Just because she happens to be confident in herself and knows her mind she is looked down as available as a person of loose character. All through her struggles to find the right person, her sister Kamini and her friend Mia stand by her always. This shows female solidarity and emphasizes the point of uplifting each other rather than putting down our own people with trivial comments and gossip. The contrast in various characters sets to highlight how our Indian society functions. Women mostly have peripheral roles and these are filtered down to sons from their own parents. Unless men are taught to behave at homes, women will never have the freedom and stand they deserve.

The writing style is crisp and there is not a dull moment in the book. The plot is not linear in progression so the reader does not get bored. It makes you emotionally invested so might feel drained after reading the book. A good look on the society, this book covers several themes intertwined with each other: search for love and acceptance, self doubt after divorce, societal conditioning, family ties, and our patriarchal society. Men would find it difficult to digest. Yet I would say everyone should read to understand the difficulties a divorced woman faces while stepping out into the Indian society. It seems she is marked with the Scarlet Letter.

Whispered Wishes: Sue Lilley

Genre: Romance, Contemporary fiction, Adult fiction, Explicit

Rating: 3/5

This book is a complete reality show bundled into a book. It contains all the right elements in perfect measures: romance, drama, suspense, etc.

The story begins with Olivia coming to Havenwood Village during a blizzard. Not much is provided as means of background to the character or her life. She lands in the village as a result of her mistakes, which let me tell you are many. The blizzard causes her car to hit a crater which punctures her tire. From here the book gains momentum. She goes to Havenwood Tavern and is looked after by Donna. Olivia runs into Nathan Swift, a billionaire in hiding. I wouldn’t divulge into details as it would spoil the fun of reading. The story moves to disclose the lives of these characters and how they get intertwined with each other.

A kidnapping turns the lives of all the characters into a whirlwind. Characters from the past surface up causing Olivia and Nathan to become distant. New twists and turns make it an interesting read and will keep you engaged. There is love and gentleness for those looking for a romantic read. The book also speaks of family, friendship, generosity, love, parental love and relationships.

The drawbacks I felt was that not enough time was given to develop characters and they seem rushed. The events in the book are not fully examined neither given full treatment. The writing if crisp but rushed as if in a hurry to reach the end. Several characters seem incomplete and their development unfair as they are not vindicated and are shown in only one shade.

It is a sweet read for anyone who has a taste for family sagas and drama. A one time read for me, but yes, pleasurable.

I received an ARC of the book in exchange of an honest review. My views are unbiased and have no influence by the author or publisher.

The Best Week That Never Happened: Dallas Woodburn

Genre: Romance, Young Adult, Explicit

Rating: 4.5/5

I kept putting off writing this review because I knew that by the end I would have a stack of tissues wet with my tears. Dallas’ debut novel has every flavor to make it a bestseller. I was drawn to the book by the blurb which was mysterious and yet gave away the main premise. “What if, when you died, you got to relive The Best Week of Your Life – but you died too soon, and The Best Week of Your Life hadn’t happened yet?”.

I knew that the book was going to be a heart-breaker and most probably leave me with puffy eyes and dullness. Braving this knowledge, I read the book and was sucked deep into it. I read the book in one sitting. On my second reading, I found myself pausing to avoid tears and the dull ache that arose due to the circumstances the characters find themselves in.

I knew from page one that this book would break my heart into shreds and that it might even drain me emotionally. The thought was always at the back of my mind while reading. It was like knowing you are about to get cut, but not sure when the knife will hit you.

The book is about childhood friends, Kai and Tegan. Kai and Tegan are best friends which strengthens over a period of time and develops into love which both fear to admit. Fate plays a cruel game and the lovers find their way back to each other after a tragic accident strikes Tegan. The book then further explore this relationship where they both confess their love to each other despite their fears and anxieties. Isn’t this the same in real life too? We fear that we will lose a person if we admit our true feelings. Often regretting too late, thinking “what if?”

Their relationship is dealt with masterfully. It sneaks upon you without a shadow. You will be engulfed in their love and be an active participant with them. I won’t reveal the story because it will ruin the pleasure of reading.

You will be aware of the bitter truth, but it will still kill you when Kai and Tegan discover the devastating truth for themselves. You wish you could hug and console them. Holding back the tears is very difficult when reading this book – it will make you cry with love, with pain, with joy and in revelation. Each page is laced with so much emotion that one wonders how the author managed to capture it all.

This is a great debut novel; I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend everyone read the book at least once. It’s not just a book about friendship or family or romance. It is also about giving life a second chance and to attempt to live beyond fear. There are important life lessons that one can take away. We don’t know which hour will be our last, and this should not stop us from living our best lives. There are beautiful words that can be etched into our minds.

We can also see that a lot of reading and research has gone into writing the novel, as evident by the Hawaiian-based myths and legends that are interspersed throughout the book.

The Best Week that Never Happened is heartrendingly beautiful. Words seemed to flow with a mind of their own before I even framed them. Such is the beauty and power of this magnificent novel. No book has touched me this way after reading it for quite some time. This book is a rare gem that will make you appreciate everything and everyone that you have in your life. Come, close your eyes, learn to trust, and fall in love all over again.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. My views about the work are not influenced or biased towards the author or publisher.