Our library unites the librarian activity of four municipalities (Šmarje pri Jelšah, Podčetrtek, Bistrica ob Sotli and Kozje) as well as the cinema and cultural centre activity and the Baroque Museum. Lifelong learning plays an important role at our institution – from the bibliopedagogical activity for preschool children and school goers to the Slovenian Third Age University. We have been the regional coordinator and organiser of LLW events for many years, and have recently also organised the Learning Parade. The lively pulse of our centre can be felt during the Study Circle Caravan or at the opening of the LLW in 2018.
Our town and municipality have become one of the hotspots of the Coronavirus disease in Slovenia with our friends and acquaintances succumbing to the virus and all of us feeling anxiety and fear. After the initial shock, the associates quickly began thinking how to maintain contact with our visitors and learners at various events, lectures, study circles, courses, etc., while at the same time encouraging them to remain optimistic. Immediately following the lock-down, mentors and education providers made contact with the learners via e-mail, telephone and social networks. We began addressing followers on our Facebook page and providing diverse content (sharing links to e-books and other e-sources, theatre shows, concerts, movies, advice on spending quality time at home, etc.). When the library was closed, we provided free online registration so that everyone wanting to read could access e-books and other e-sources.
We quickly also began creating content bringing the warmth and the magic people have gotten used to at our library into their homes, i.e. via the Internet. The Šmarje pri Jelšah Library Youtube channel also came to life. We published 52 videos by the start of May which is more than one per week on average. The videos got more than 11,500 views and a total 530 hours of content watched.
The first video fairytale for children was posted on 24 March and received a highly positive response, while the day after we posted the first content from the Slovenian Third Age University programme. Afterwards we quickly transferred other content online – psychology evenings, lectures and study circles, fairytales for children and stories for adults, weekly talks with Dr Karel Gržan, etc.
The positive responses from mentors, lecturers and the guests at various events whom we had invited to take part were always a pleasant surprise and source of joy for us. Most of them recorded themselves for the first time when preparing their contributions and sending us their recordings. We initially hoped to receive at least one video from each of them, but many surprised us when they proposed weekly meetings. We are happy to have had Dr Nevenka Bogataj addressing our study circles and all Slovenian study circles via a video and inviting them to take part. The invitation was answered by mentor Ana Marija Blažič from Novo mesto AEC (both videos are available in Slovenian).
This year’s Night of the Book at our library took on a slightly different format than in previous years. Our librarians posted a video inviting people to take part in a literary competition entitled Life Upside Down.
During this period, we learned that genuine personal contact is (still) the most important, that all of us carry within ourselves the creativity and the desire to work together (we only need to leave our comfort zone), that it is in such trying times that we become aware of the importance of good associates, mentors, lecturers… as well as loyal learners and visitors so that past work, investment in relationships and cooperation can bear fruit. It turned out that learning brings new knowledge and realisations that allow us to match (any) challenge.
Jana Turk Šulc (firstname.lastname@example.org), Šmarje pri Jelšah Library