Library Moves Online During COVID-19

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Edan Zinn

Students use Sora to access eBooks from their devices. Photo illustration by Edan Zinn ’23.

Kate Hirschen, Writer

As teachers assign final projects with the pandemic limiting access to libraries, more students are taking advantage of Sora, a virtual alternative which the School purchased access to in September. 

According to the Sora website, “Sora is your gateway to the best selection of ebooks and audiobooks available to schools, spanning millions of titles from thousands of publishers. With a catalog for all interests and abilities, Sora truly offers something for all readers.”

Middle and Upper School Library Director Megan Dolan said that the website has been “incredibly helpful” this year.

“Sora is a resource that we had previously, but that has proven even more useful and valuable during COVID,” Dolan said. “Through Sora, we have access to a large collection through the state and I can also purchase books à la carte for students, as needed and when requested.”

While the Library Learning Commons remains closed, students have used Sora in many ways throughout the year.

“Students are using Sora for pleasure reading in the Middle School, extra credit reading for Ms. Smith’s classes in the Upper School, and for some research papers as well, especially the Major Author Study paper that is currently underway,” Dolan said.

In order to access Sora eBooks, students go to the “Library” tab in Canvas, then to “Databases”, and navigate to Sora from there.

Madeline Hsaio ’23 has found Sora to be a useful resource for class research.

“Ms. Dolan helped me find an eBook to help with my history research project, and it had several usable quotes and great, detailed information that was relevant to my topic,” Hsiao said. “I was especially grateful that the book was available in a kindle format to allow for searches of key words in the text.”

Leni Hicks-Dutt ’23 also used Sora for a class research project.

“It had exactly what I needed and was super helpful,” Hicks-Dutt said.

Dolan is glad that students can continue to make use of the library’s collection during the pandemic.

“While I have really missed being with students in person in the library this year, it makes me happy to know that they can still access the resources and meet with me for help when they need it,” Dolan said.