in Japan

CAJ Library and Community

Jamie Lath, Librarian

Covid-19 has caused so much grief, not only in the loss of life and health but also the loss of community and support. The CAJ library was a lonely place in the early days of Covid. It felt like it was just the librarians and the books because no one was allowed to spend a lot of time in the library. Students were quick to find their books and exit. Parents had to make appointments to check out books. Partitions dividing work tables made it difficult for teachers to have meetings. 

Libraries are meant to be places of community and support, so we had to get creative on how to do that. Throughout the past three years, we found ways to support the community in new ways or just tweak some of the old ones. Our Sakura book program, a Japan-based international school reading program, was able to continue with shifts towards virtual voting and smaller celebrations within the classrooms to promote a love of reading. We also rolled out an online audiobook and ebook platform that allows all of our patrons to access great reads whether they are at home, on a trip, or simply commuting to school. It is also a great support for students who are learning English or could otherwise be aided by hearing an audiobook.

The biggest change was that we created a multipurpose room that we call the “Library Lab.” This room has a whiteboard, tables, cushions for floor seating, and a projector. Library classes are taught in this room. These classes promote a love of literature, instruct on how to conduct research and find information, and show students how to become better digital citizens. The room is not just for the librarians to use though. It has been used for staff planning, university presentations, students collaborating and studying, and teachers instructing small groups.

The CAJ library strives to be a hub of the community, but our patrons are the spokes of that hub. We are so pleased that, with Japan rolling back restrictions, we are able to welcome students, parents, and homeschooling families to come spend time in the library as they did before Covid; not just choosing books, but also reading books, doing homework, collaborating, presenting projects, and tutoring. Having people use the space and create community again in the library makes our job worthwhile. We are thankful to see people come to enjoy our space and to help us think of new ways to benefit and grow the community here at CAJ.

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