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What We Learned When We Took Our Financial Literacy Programs Online

Photo of an open laptop with an image on a piggy bank on the screen

COVID-19 isn't just a health crisis; for many Americans, the pandemic has caused economic turmoil as well. As members of ALA's Financial Literacy Interest Group, we know the importance of financial capability skills, and this was a moment for us to step up.

So facing statewide "shelter at home" orders this spring, public and academic libraries made a quick shift to online financial literacy programming. Here’s what we learned along the way.

Virtual Minecraft Club

Screenshots taken from Virtual Minecraft Club

Virtual Minecraft Club is an online adaptation of our original Minecraft Club program, a program for ages 6 and up to collaborate, compete and build with other local fans on all supported Minecraft platforms.

Virtual Minecraft Club, like its in-person predecessor, happens for one hour once per week.

Junior Virtual Art Show

Photo of a slide from the Junior Virtual Art Show

Prior to COVID-19, we talked about creating a junior art show that would be shown in our library's community room. Unfortunately, all of our community rooms closed to the public for safety reasons and we could no longer use them for programming. 

I found that the most appropriate and safest way to display the talents of our young artists was through a virtual art show!

The kids would get recognition and get to display their art in a safe virtual environment that mimics a real gallery experience.

Welcome to School, I'm Your Zoom-brarian: Relationship-Building for a New Year

A woman holding a coffee cup smiling at a computer screen

As we look to fall 2020 and our start to the school year, one thing is certain: it will be like no other start we have experienced before. Many districts have already decided to begin the year virtually, and others are sure to follow. Districts starting with a hybrid model of mixed virtual and face-to-face learning will also face challenges that we have not yet encountered.

Retro Aerobics Online

Retro Aerobics Online is a low-impact exercise program for adults that follows a different vintage workout routine each month, such as Richard Simmons’s “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.”

This was originally an in-person program that moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National History Day and Teacher/Librarian Collaboration

NHD Logo

National History Day (NHD) projects have been part of our collaborative library programming for years. They are a great way for students to learn the research process in a deep and meaningful manner, meeting many National School Library Standards. It's also a great way for students to practice the various literacies: news, information, media and digital. 

Presenting Virtual Library Programming in Uncertain Times

Photo of person working on laptop.

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.

Virtual [Spanish/French] Conversation Hour

A photo of a woman smiling down at her laptop with coffee in her hand.

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.

The Great Brookie Bake-Off (Online)

Photo of mother and child decorating a cake.

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!

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