This blog post was written by Becky Shaknovich, Department Head of Parkway Central Library's Children's Department and Field Teen Center. Becky was a member of Cohort 7 of the Skills for Community-Centered Libraries training program.
When I began the Skills for Community-Centered Libraries training in November 2019, I had no idea what was coming in 2020! My final project, "Instagram Stories Storytime" turned out to be a fortuitous choice. Some of my goals for the project were to reach more people and connect more meaningfully with our existing patrons. It was meant to bring a taste of our programming to the virtual space, enticing folks to visit and to extend the library experience into children’s homes. I had planned to post snippets of storytime programs, like songs and read-alouds, so children could sing and read along at home, extending and enriching their library experience.
Little did I know that within a year this project would evolve into a full calendar of virtual programming! Because we had a head start on pivoting from in-person to online, the Children’s Department was able to jump right in to producing virtual programming in March 2020. As we learned how to adapt to life during a global pandemic, virtual programming grew from a spark of an idea during Community-Centered Libraries training and expanded into so much more!
We have been able to share books we love on social media, helping people browse our collection that way. Passive programs like journaling or drawing prompts adapt perfectly into social media posts. The Field Teen Center has done a wonderful job of engaging teens online as well, providing cooking activities, homework hangouts, tarot readings, jewelry making, gaming, and other programming. They also have a Discord server for teens, providing a unique social experience. Parkway Central Library children’s & teen staff have collaborated with community partners and local authors to bring a richer virtual experience to our community of library users. Answering reader’s advisory and reference questions is a breeze using direct messages. (Please DM us!)
One of the most exciting things about virtual programming is we are able to reach a much larger audience. Virtual storytimes and other programs can reach hundreds or even thousands of people! The convenience of not having to travel and the ability to view programming anytime makes access easier. We plan to keep virtual programs and services going, integrating this new model into post-COVID life.
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Parkway Central Children’s Department
Field Teen Center