How a Professional Community in Jordan Weathered the Pandemic

Aug 24, 2021 10:28:53 AM Sarah Rymer

“To see transformed lives in communities of contagious hope” is IDEAS' vision, but what does community look like in reality?

shutterstock_1921571207All of us are part of multiple communities: our neighborhood community, our faith community, and our professional community.  

One community highlight for me professionally has emerged from the Jordanian School Librarians conferences. These conferences grew from a few librarians in Jordan recognizing the need for professional development opportunities focused on school librarians. In 2017, when a small group of us were discussing the needs of school librarians in Jordan, I suggested we should do a workshop for school librarians.

I was picturing a 2-hour workshop, but one of my librarian colleagues was much more visionary.

“No,” she said. We need to do a full 2-day professional conference with keynote speakers and smaller breakout sessions. And guess what? Miraculously, we did.

Community pushes us beyond our own visions.

That first year, our hard-working conference committee members came from only 2 schools, but we had over 100 people attend that first year.

A new community-building activity was born as librarians from different types of schools began to build relationships.

Our committee grew after that first year to include more librarians from more schools. We held two more successful conferences.

And then, Covid.

Early in March 2020, we held what would turn out to be our last in-person meeting for over a year. We were just beginning to suspect the pandemic might have an impact on us, but we still tentatively planned for our fourth conference in Fall 2020. By April, with all schools closed, we decided we would postpone until at least Spring 2021. By Fall, we knew there would be no 2020-21 school year conference.

Even dispersed, this librarian community made a difference.

We figured out how to purchase a small collection of informational eBooks to be used by all school libraries in Jordan. For many Jordanian schools, they are the only online English resources available. Librarians from schools that did have resources understood the importance of purchasing this collection and spent time and energy figuring out how to make this collection available to other schools with fewer resources.

Fast forward to May 2021. Restrictions on gatherings were slowly being lifted. One of our committee members had a lovely garden and offered to host an outdoors, in-person meeting of our committee so we could regroup and figure out our next steps.

And this is where I circle back to community.

We are a group brought together by our profession, but the joy we had that day had little to do with work and everything to do with community. No Jordanian-style kisses on the cheek, but lots of smiles and elbow bumps. There were tears as we cried with one librarian who had lost her mother to Covid. There was rejoicing as one librarian shared the book that she’d spent her Covid year getting published. There were good-byes as two non-Jordanian members on the committee prepared to leave the country at the end of the school year.

We didn’t do much work that day. We will. What happened that day was a fruit of our work:

A professional community of librarians from different countries, religions, and tribes, now friends, working together to impact the students of Jordan.

 

If you would like to learn more about becoming part of a professional community with IDEAS, click here!

 

About the Author: Libby is an IDEAS Associate and professional librarian. She currently resides in Jordan and works with libraries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Enjoy other blogs by Libby, such as Mirrors and Doors: Books for TCKs.

    

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