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For the past year our library has had a great deal of success with our escape rooms and have planned to continue adding new ones. As the pandemic threatened to bring these events to screeching halt, I knew there had to be a way to build a new escape room and still keep it within the COVID guidelines.
As 2020 begins to wind down, we can reflect on all that we’ve learned about virtual programming. Many of us entered the year as novices, but we're leaving it with some serious skills — whether from wrangling a boisterous virtual book club or shifting a cultural heritage festival from stage to screen.
But have you mastered the art of marketing your virtual programs? Or are you still struggling to get people to log in?
Document your Story: COVID-19 Pandemic Project Archive brought together three community organizations to collect and preserve material created during COVID-19 from many different perspectives. This project has collected material from a variety of community members, such as local artists, diarists, the local business community, Muncie citizens, and Ball State University students, faculty and staff.
Before COVID-19, the Princeton (N.J.) Public Library adult programming team periodically would discuss how we could offer a virtual component to accompany our in-person library programming. Could we livestream our larger events to an overflow space within the library? What would be the best way to record some of our programs and make them available to the public afterwards? These questions were discussed, with varying degrees of urgency, for months.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
These words, from the great Civil Rights activist Assata Shakur, are a familiar refrain for protesters today. This refrain is a rallying cry and a reminder that fighting for our freedom is both a duty and an expression of love for our own humanity.
Virtual Language Conversation Hours invite already conversant speakers of a second language to gather and practice in a casual setting. Through interactions with the group, participants strengthen their language skills in organic and accessible ways while also providing opportunities to explore various cultures.
In times of increasing potential isolation this provides space for genuine connections between new people with shared interests.
Cooking and baking competition programs have been popular at our library for years, so when COVID-19 caused the library to close, I conceived a way to do it online via Zoom in the style of Netflix's "Nailed It."
Teams were asked to prepare two baked and cooled round layer cakes as well as the ingredients for chocolate icing. Participants wouldn't know what they were making until the Zoom competition began. The teams then found out they had to make a hedgehog cake using only what they had on hand! Lots of creativity ensued!
The Reading Creativity Crate program is the socially distanced solution to our summer reading program. Many of our patrons love and rely on summer reading so we knew we had to make it work.
Based on the model for subscription crates, patrons can choose a box according to their age group. The box contains books, craft materials and a variety of resources that cover two weeks of summer reading activities.
We have five crates to choose from: pre-K, 1st-4th grade, 5th-8th grade, 9th-12th grade and adult.
Dream Careers is a teen-initiated, teen-led series designed to increase awareness on a variety of careers choices. The program helps teens research career paths while speaking with a chosen guest.
On May 5 we had our kickoff event via Zoom with virologist Ken Stedman. Dr. Stedman studies viruses found in extreme environments, and the teens wanted to hear from him in light of the pandemic. Our next Dream Careers will be with a chef and restaurant owner.
Since it's become clear that we won't be having in-person events at our library this summer, I wanted to find a way for the library to uplift community spirit from a distance.
The Spring 2020 Art Show is a digital display of art presentening works by Boyertown community members, open to all ages and media, inclusive of all ages and abilities. The art show can serve as a reminder to the community that, even under challenging conditions, we are capable of creativity, a hopeful spirit and uplifting one another.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Public Library Association (PLA) is coordinating with several ALA units and other library organizations to survey the library community to understand the current impacts the crisis is having on their operations, programs, services and finances. It is seeking input from all library types and is making the survey available until Monday, May 18, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. CDT.
Virtual Literary Legos is a children's program offered via Zoom. It consists of two sessions: in the first, I read a story, asking the kids to pay particular attention to the visuals and think about something they could create with Legos. We take a break so the children can work on their creations, and then we reconvene for a show-and-tell.
This program incorporates literacy, creativity, meaningful interaction and fun with Legos! Before COVID-19, I ran this program once a month from our library; now I do it twice a month virtually.
The Kids' Activity Kit program will help our library provide activities and promote learning while we are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are currently six different categories of kits that have been cataloged and circulated in our community.
Each kit comes in a freezer or AV bag and is labeled with items that the patron can keep as well as items that need to be returned. There are craft kits available as well as kits that promote fine motor and important skills for early childhood education.
The Dear Friend pen pal campaign launched as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We connect quarantined youth with senior citizens in our community through a traditional letter-writing program. The program has been tremendously helpful to provide youth and senior citizens a way to stay active and connected during a tumultuous time for the whole world.
We had over 100 registrations in the first month and people are still signing up. We hope to continue long after the quarantine ends.
When the library closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I knew that I wanted to interact with patrons in ways that aren’t completely digital or Zoom-based. When the library is open, I organize craft classes, which are especially popular during the summer months. I decided to continue these classes from home.
I needed a way to get supplies to patrons. These "to-go bags" contain all the craft materials they might not have at home, allowing for our library to continue teaching and connecting with them. It’s the closest we can get to our summer in-person programming during this time.