CE Blog 4: Changes and implications due to COVID-19 :: NEWS
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CE Blog 4: Changes and implications due to COVID-19

21 April 2020 Share

Alison summarises the changes and implications that COVID-19 has caused to the SLA, and how we're working to support the sector.

Well, the sun is shining, and the weather is good, which can have a huge impact on how we are all feeling, but none of us are in the position we thought we would be earlier in the year. In this blog, I'm going to outline some of the impacts of COVID-19, and how the SLA is responding to them, and supporting our members, as well as the wider sector. But before we get onto the things that have changed, some things have stayed the same: the Information Book Award is unhampered (other than some online meetings!) and we were able to announce the longlist yesterday! You can watch the video and read the judges' comments here.

We have responded to the current situation in the following ways:

  • The Out of School Learning Resources page - is a regularly updated page collating all the offers, services and products that will help you maintain learning for your pupils (or children!) at this time. 
  • Reading recommendations page - given the closure of many bookshops and the extra time at home many parents may want to receive individualised recommendations for their children, so they can order the right books (online or not) first time round. This page allows you to do just that, and you can download the reading bingo to ensure a range of materials continues to be explored. 
  • Certificate of CPD Engagement - many people are using some time to catch up on their CPD; this Certificate enables you to collate and be recognised for the time you are putting into CPD. This will be free until schools reopen. 
  • Members survey - originally planned for earlier in the year, we had to reschedule this, but this is the first of an annual survey to see how we're doing. We're also using the opportunity to do some sector research, and investigating the impact of COVID-19 on you and your schools so we can plan appropriate support and anticipate any issues once restrictions are lifted. You can take part here.
  • We have moved our training online and are now offering weekly webinars (an hour long) and less regular webinar courses (four hours delivered in two parts). These are both charged at minimal rate, but the trainers have to work to prepare the courses, and most of them are self employed independent trainers who have lost the majority of their income. We are planning to provide a webinar which is free to members once a month; the first is on well-being and reading. All training will be advertised here; do log in to see members' prices. 
  • The giveaway in the monthly newsletter (which was emailed to all members yesterday; please check your junk mail if you haven't received it) has been changed from books to discounts off the online training. 
  • On the slightly more practical front, we have delayed the sending out of April invoices, and will increase the payment terms on any renewal invoices to 40 days to help with delays in communication. 
  • We are still able to send any publication orders, though with a slight delay. Additionally we have converted some of our original publications to Kindle editions. See more information here.
  • Currently it looks as though we will be able to send out The School Librarian as usual to our UK based members. We are offering to send it to an alternative delivery address; please use this form to do this. You can also use this form to let us know of other changes, or sign up to the CPD Library (this is still running!). There may be delays to sending to our overseas members depending on the postal advice at the time, but we will get it to you as soon as possible. Luckily there hasn't been any unmanageable impact on the content production, and for an insight into the impact on the book reviewing process and wider publishing implications see Joy Court's 'Impact on book reviews' section below. 
  • The Info@ newsletter that comes with your TSL is likely to look a little different. 
  • The office is closed, and the team is working from home. We are fortunate that we already had an online phone service, but working from home does present its own challenges, so should your call not be answered please email us (info[at]sla.org.uk), and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. 
  • We are keeping a watchful eye on the weekend course, and will provide more information in due course. 
  • Don't forget, if you have a team, or think anyone else in your school would be interested in having a user account for the website just let us know (as long as it's an organisational membership ie the school has paid). 

We realise that some school library staff have been furloughed (incidentally, government guidance is that "furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training" source), and those who remain 'in work' are battling their own challenges. Our thoughts go out to all our members, and we recognise the emotional toil we are undergoing as a country; perhaps now is the time to start recommending #positivereads to lift our spirits. We are working to support all our members and ensure the SLA is in a position to support our community now, and in the future. As always, if there's anything we can do, please let us know. 

Implications on Book Reviews - Joy Court

My connections with my reviewers and with the Production Editor in the SLA Office are all virtual and therefore unchanged by the crisis and ‘home working’ is my norm. There were a few hiccups where I only had a school email to use and some people did not have virtual access to that or indeed had not remembered to take the reviews with them when they were forced to shut up shop. I will shortly be posting out the next batch of books to reviewers and, as we know and value, the postal deliveries are keeping the country going. We use the Click and Drop service, so all labels are printed here and contactless drop off is possible.

We are entirely dependent on the publishing industry, however, and there the picture has been anything but normal. Publication schedules have had to be changed- books I had in proof and reviewed for this edition are in some cases now not publishing until the autumn. Where I had notice in time, I have held the reviews back but there may well be a few notified after we went to print and so apologies for that. With offices, distribution centres and warehouses closed the actual supply of physical copies of books is dwindling, meaning reviewers may get a smaller selection next time. With the closure of bookshops as well there is a huge impact upon revenue for publishers and we must hope that they will be able to weather the crisis intact. I'm sure both schools and publishing will repay each other's hard work and efforts during this time when we reemerge from this situation.