BPL Piano Show is an all-request musical performance streamed every Thursday night on Facebook Live. It features Kaleen Dolan, a born-and-raised Chicagoan who has played at the top piano bars nationally and internationally. We began the program on May 7, 2020, and plan to continue offering it at least into August 2020.
There is an interactive element to this program; patrons can make song requests, comment and connect with one another during the live broadcast. The performer also does a wonderful job of connecting to viewers during the show by calling out birthdays, greetings and sharing stories. The performance is archived and available to watch later.
The goal of this program is to offer a virtual, entertaining escape to our patrons during our state’s stay-at-home order and beyond, while also supporting local performers.
Our young adult librarian, Katie Yager, led the program planning. She started planning the first show in late April with the performer, Kaleen Dolan.
Kaleen has previously performed through Facebook Live, so it has been easy to work with her to offer the program through the library’s Facebook page  and have a fast turnaround on program execution. We have had a few technical difficulties (for example, the stream getting cut off), but overall, it has been a program that is easy to plan and run.
The event was promoted through the library’s typical marketing venues, including the website, online calendar, social media, e-newsletter and a mailed newsletter. We were able to use many of our normal promotional tools, and our online marketing was crucial during the stay-at-home order. The performer also promotes the shows through her Facebook page.
The program cost is performer fees and paid staff time. We worked with the performer to offer a reasonable rate for each show that is consistent with typical library event costs.
Only one staff member with access to our library’s Facebook page is needed. Little set-up is needed, since it’s a virtual program. The staff member and performer check in shortly before the program starts. The performer starts the stream, then the staff member shares the event on our library’s Facebook page.
During the performance on Facebook, the staff member comments, encourages viewers to make requests, and shares an online survey at the end of the program. The only challenges have been technical (for example, the stream getting cut off), but connectivity issues can happen for any virtual program.
Each hourlong show has a theme, with the last 15 minutes open to any song requests. Past and upcoming themes include the following: Disney, 70s, 80s, 90s, Icons, British Invasion.
The program has been so successful that we’ve held it every Thursday since May 2020. We plan to continue the show into at least August. We aren’t able to gauge the exact number of people attending virtually during the show, but we can see other viewing metrics, which have been substantial.
We’ve also received positive feedback from patrons via post-program surveys and social media posts. It admirably achieved our original goals, and it has been a pleasure working with Kaleen.
Reach out to performers, especially those with experience holding virtual events. Kaleen is also available for other virtual performances and can be contacted at email@example.com . This has been a great way to pivot into virtual programming, while still offering musical concerts, which are a popular program at our library.
About This Library
Bloomingdale Public Library serves a population of nearly 22,000 people in the west/central suburban Chicago area.