With COVID-19, many libraries were thrown into uncharted terrain when it came to programming. And so — as libraries do — they quickly innovated, coming up with a vast array of virtual programs in a short time. Some were twists on old favorites while others were brand new concepts.
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!
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.
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.
If you've been on social media lately, you may have seen lists of educational resources offered for free or at minimal cost during the COVID-19 pandemic. These lists can be overwhelming, and many resources may not meet your school district's privacy guidelines. And what happens when the free resources are not free anymore? Can your library support the purchase that your students and teachers have come to rely upon?
As library workers try to reach patrons virtually while social distancing, many are turning to videoconferencing platforms like Zoom, Facebook Live or Google Hangouts.
Taking library programs online can be effective at reaching audiences that are connected to the internet. And videoconferencing has other benefits: it is cost-effective, you can reach people far outside your service area, and it may be a draw for community members that can’t or don’t visit the library in person (think parents of young children or people with disabilities).
“History is often associated with the past — events of someone or something not connected with us. There is nothing like a global health crisis, however, to realize we are making and living history right now.”
So began a March 23, 2020, open letter to the community from archivist and local history librarian Monique Sugimoto with the Palos Verdes Library District (PVLD).
We began having weekly virtual story times using the Facebook Live platform on March 20, shortly after closing for the COVID-19 virus. We wanted to give people a chance to be together synchronously, even if it was virtual.
We included books, interactive songs, fingerplays, dances, puppets and craft ideas. We also used a guitar and a ukulele and encouraged interaction by having participants pick which instruments we would use for certain songs.
You’ve spent months planning and putting in the hard work to ensure you’re delivering a quality program for your community. Don’t stop there! Adding a few steps to your to-do list will increase your program's reach and impact.