How has your library been handling programming in the time of COVID? At Darien, most of what we do – from storytimes to vendor programming – has gone virtual. But as the months wear on, we’ve come to realize that patrons (much like their hard-working librarians) are pretty burnt out on technology. So last month when we reopened to the public, the Youth Services Team rolled out a few fresh ideas for engaging with our community.
First up, we decided to try out grab-and-go book bundles (an idea we’d been considering pre-quarantine, as a way to aid caregivers in finding multiple books on a particular theme/subject). With some great marketing ideas from our Children’s Program Coordinator and the Assistant Head of Teen Services (who jointly thought up the concept of a take-out menu) and a spreadsheet of book recommendations from yours truly, we were ready to go.
Each bundle contains 4-5 books on a particular topic or within a genre – for instance, one bag contains first day of school picture books – and each menu showcases a total of 16 possible bundles. Currently, book bundle “menus” are rotated out twice a month, so ideally the selection is new once a patron returns to select another bundle.
Shortly after rolling out these book bundles, our Children’s Program Coordinator (along with another Children’s Librarian and with a lot of part-time assistance) put together a series of grab & go crafts, LEGO Challenge Kits, and TEA (Technology, Engineering and Art) Room to-go kits, all three of which have been flying out of the library.
While we don’t have an exact number for each respective type of bag (though we have begun tracking these more carefully, paying particular attention to the popularity of each book bag theme), over 100 book bundles and somewhere around 500 craft, TEA Room, and LEGO kits have gone out since we reopened just over a month ago, making this by far our most popular COVID programming initiative. In fact, our Adult Readers’ Advisory Services Team saw the demand for our book bundles and quickly adapted a take-out menu of their own.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and III. Programming Skills.