ALDEN, N.Y. — Sometimes finding the perfect book to read takes a bit of time and a lot of page flipping.
Alden High School's library media specialist, Ann Sobol, wanted her students to read more but touch books less in this age of COVID-19, so she came up with an idea for touch-free browsing.
"Normally they pick up a book, read the inside cover, read the back, the reviews. Then they move on to another book and probably do that four, five, six times during a class. Touching everything! So, we don't want kids to do that right now," said Sobol.
She used a free program to create 150 quick read (QR) codes for books in the library. Then she printed, laminated, and attached them.
Here's how it works:
Students take out their cell phones, open the camera, and hold it over the QR code. Then a link will pop up, taking them to a book description on Amazon or from the publisher.
In some cases, they can watch a book trailer on YouTube.
"[They can] quickly walk around and get an idea of what the book is about, if they want to read it. They don't have to touch it and pick it up. They can move on and scan another book cover," said Sobol.
New books are displayed on socially-distant stations in the library, and she features other books based on responses from student reading surveys. She plans to make more QR codes, so more books can be put on display.
Sobol has heard of some schools temporarily closing libraries. She's happy hers is still open... and busy — she's had more than 120 checkouts since September.
"Given our current climate, that's pretty good. Again, we want kids off screens and with books in their hands," said Sobol.
Returned books are placed in quarantine for seven days before they put back on display.