Know the Need, Deploy the Solution — Learning Pods
Chesterfield County Public Library, Va.
The Chesterfield County Public Library Learning Pod program is a rapid, iterative response to the post-COVID 100% virtual school learning environment. All 10 branches opened to safely accommodate grassroots learning pods needing library technology, safe spaces and staff expertise, offering teachers and families a new model for student learning.
With confirmed COVID-19 cases correlating highly with areas of low reading achievement in the county, learning loss is expected to hit already struggling communities hardest. Even though COVID-related budget cuts forced CCPL to initially furlough 70% of staff, we anticipated the need for access to learning spaces and tech to mitigate this effect. By creating working groups across library divisions and putting all hands on deck, staff were strategically deployed systemwide to launch a new service in record time.
Key Elements of Innovation
Library staff, alongside risk management, general services and IT, mapped out small reservable spaces that prioritized safety and compliance, to create a crucial learning option. We rehired and recruited trained staff to work safely with only a four-week turnaround, while quickly creating robust marketing along with safety and usage policies. Data-driven analytics of projected staffing needs, combined with meticulous evaluation of the service, allowed for timely innovation and nimble adjustment to the offering.
Though the service has only been live for three weeks, we’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback. We’ve scheduled 1,627 hours of meetings (almost 68 days) for over 475 students, educators and those working virtually. We are tracking increased library card applications, volume of use and both staff and customer feedback. CCPL is partnering with the local foodbank to provide meals to students experiencing food insecurity and is working to track school performance and attendance versus pod use.