Welcome to Ask ALSC, where the Managing Youth Services Committee asks leaders in children’s libraries to share their response to an issue or situation. We hope to showcase a range of responses to topics that may affect ALSC members. If you’d like to respond to today’s topics, or suggest a topic for the future, please leave a comment.
As the country practiced stay-at-home safety, libraries and librarians dusted off their tools and created virtual storytimes and activities that created additional resources for families during this difficult time. Creating family readings, I was so paranoid about virtual storytime, and whether I was creating fun, interactive, and educational videos for the little ones. However, what was even more stressful was making sure that I did not read the same books or do the same finger play or songs that the other librarians had performed. I also had to ensure that the videos were of proper length and that they were published in a timely manner. Working with the other librarians, we collaborated and discovered some great tools that helped us all become organized. These tools lessened our stress and we realized that as the summer reading program was going to look much different this year, we can utilize these tools to create an organized summer program for our families.
Here are a few tips that have helped lessen the stress and creates collaboration:
Creating a schedule: Create a schedule of who will be creating storytimes and how often each librarian is going to create a video. This allows each person to have time to find materials and practice before hand. It also allows everyone to feel part of the team and that they are contributing to their local community.
Time and date: One important factor is to have a time limit on the videos. Let everyone know the minimum and maximum each video should be. Set up a regular schedule of dates of when each video is due. Also, have a set time where each librarian is scheduled to tape in the children’s area, if currently, your staff can enter the library. Having a known time limit and due date, allows each librarian to create a video and opens the rest of the week to other online work that needs to be accomplished.
Format: Work with each librarian and let them know what format to record in. Let them know where they need to download the video and what format to send it in. For those that are new to recording, formatting, trimming, and editing a little one-on-one meeting or webinar would be extremely useful.
Collaborate with peers: Using Excel, Google Docs, or other shared files, is a great way to log books, songs, finger play, and the use of felt boards and other visuals. Having a document where all librarians can record their information, allows everyone to see what others are creating and keeps a working log of what each librarian has utilized in the library.
Meetings/communication: Although we are unable to meet in person, having an online live meeting is extremely easy these days. From Skype to Zoom to GoToMeeting, all these companies and many other online meeting companies, offer free to paid services depending on your needs. Each have pros and cons, which is something to investigate, to see what works for you and your staff. Finding one where you can share documents allows everyone to participate and ask questions for clarification. Also, set up regular weekly meetings so everyone can share, ask questions, and collaborate which will construct better story times and ease any underlying concerns and issues.
These are just a few tips that can help ease the stress and worry of this new normal we are working under. To help create a better storytime, I had researched many different library virtual storytimes and I have found one series from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County that were immensely helpful. There are a few librarians who have created virtual storytimes for their community. Each librarian brings their own unique twist and magic to their storytime. The link above goes to one such storytime and you can get a feel for what they do. By examining others from this series, you can see they are organized and are collaborating behind the scenes.
I know I have only touched on a few organizational tools. Please commit below on strategies that have worked for you and your library. The more tools we have, the better we can serve our local communities and learn to work in this new environment.
Today’s blog post was written by Kerrie Mierop, Librarian at Calabasas Public Library in California and Children’s Elementary School Librarian in Thousand Oaks, California, on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog relates to ALSC Core Competencies of VI. Administrative and Management Skills and Programming Skills
Amarillo Public Library. Image, 2020. FaceBook, www.facebook.com/112700938748260/photos/a.239347189416967/3124006734284317/?type=3. Accessed May 2020.
Prince Hill. “Storytime at Home: “Elephants Never Forget!” and “Lion, Lion””. YouTube, uploaded by Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 6 March 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRBpViCL5No