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Moray School Librarians in Lockdown

This blog has been reposted by kind permission of Shelagh Toonen and the SLG group.

This blog post is part of Librarians During Lockdown, a series highlighting the work that librarians in Scotland have been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic when library services have had to move online. It was written by Stephen Leitch on behalf of Moray school librarians.

Lockdown has been a challenging time. In Moray, which has no School Library Service and each school librarian is managed by their school with their own priorities, Moray school librarians worked together to develop ways of supporting our individual education communities and each other. We would like to share with you some of the things we have achieved through working together.

Using Microsoft Teams


Developing a working knowledge of Teams has enabled us to work collaboratively and support our school communities. Shelagh Toonen at Elgin Academy has championed the use of Teams, creating library channels and running her junior and staff book groups and comic club through Teams. We all now use Teams to differing extents to reach and share information with pupils and staff, and Kirsten uses Google Classroom to keep in contact with library helpers.

The weekly virtual meet up and posts on Teams meant that we were able to share what we were doing and offer advice and support to each other. Coming together to share and discuss has been a real positive for us, and boost for our confidence and mental health. Posting information in Teams also allowed colleagues who were absent due to illness to catch up easily on what we have been working on in their absence.

Library Websites

Before lockdown, only Elgin Academy library had a web presence. Kirsten Macleod from Elgin High School took the lead in developing a virtual library website, with contributions from her colleagues, and shared for other Moray school librarians to use and adapt if they wanted to. Now we all have a website and share new web resources and links in teams to allow each other to update our websites with. The websites sit outside of the school network giving parents access and allow us to share resources quickly in response to trending situations.

Promoting Reading

Concerned that pupils may not have access to free books (no school library in Moray has an ebook provider service), Stephen Leitch, librarian at Buckie High School and Keith Grammar School developed a weekly book poster called ‘Get Booked Up’ which highlighted 8 free online books that were readily available and required no sign up to access. This was shared as a web-linked poster on Twitter, library websites, Teams, and shared with colleagues.

We also developed book recommendation videos as a way to encourage reading in our communities. We all contributed short recordings of ourselves making a book recommendation (25 seconds to sell a book is a challenge), which I then turned into a ‘Moray School Librarians in Lockdown Recommend’ video – having to learn a new video editing software along the way. Being under 2 mins 20 allows them to be uploaded directly to Twitter accounts and easily shared on Teams, and we have been topical with our videos linking in with Pride Month for example.

Training & CPD

Individually we have used webinars to develop our IT skills (particularly the daily Moray Digital Drop-In sessions developed by Moray Council Digital Learning team), book knowledge attending the range of online book festivals and author talks, and professional events (such as CILIPS Friday Webinars). The online environment has allowed us to share training we have learned on webinars or by ourselves, with each other using Teams and screen share. Creating virtual library classrooms, using PPT Screen Recorder to record virtual book talks, managing websites, using Google Classroom are some of the skills that we have been sharing, and leading a training session has brought its own skills requirements!

P7/S1 Transition

Using our new skills has allowed us to be part of P7/S1 Transition. From running book cover design competitions at Elgin Academy to creating at a virtual library on google slides with a quiz at Buckie High, we have made sure that school libraries have had a presence in their school transition programme online, so our new S1 pupils know who we are and have a positive impression of the library.


Lockdown for school librarians in Moray has been challenging, but not without its opportunities. We haven’t been able to achieve all we wanted to do, but through working together, sharing resources and training remotely, we have been able to engage with pupils and staff, and by doing so have developed our digital skills base. With schools looking likely to be returning in August full time, we look forward to continuing to use these new skills and resources to provide a more diverse library service to our school communities. It will be an exciting time.

Moray School Librarians are:

Shelagh Toonen, Elgin Academy

Kirsten MacLeod, Elgin High School,

Angela Walker, Lossiemouth High School and Speyside High School,

Shirley Munn, Forres Academy

Stephen Leitch, Buckie High School and Keith Grammar School

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