One of the things I miss most in quarantine is Storytime. I love storytime so much! It is an opportunity to create a whole bodied experience for families. I get a rush from presenting it. I love thinking about what themes I am going to do, what stories would be just right, what songs would work, what flannels. I even make playlists to go with my theme to entertain the parents and kids during the playtime afterwards.
We have been doing storytime virtually since the pandemic started, so I have been getting my fix in a diluted way. As we all know, it’s just not the same. I was trying to think of other ways to deliver the storytime experience to families after our summer session ended when I happened upon Syossett Library’s Storytime Starters on their Instagram feed. What a brilliant idea! They posted books, flannels and some videos so that families could recreate storytime at home. I was inspired and knew I needed to try to create something similar here at the Santa Clarita Public Library.
I worked on the storytime starters for a good chunk of August, if I can be honest. My boss kept saying “Are you STILL working on that?” Why, yes. Yes I was. It was another one of those learning curve experiences that the pandemic seems so capable of producing. It took me some time to get up to speed on how to do everything. Hopefully it was worth it. Here’s an example of last week’s Storytime Starter. It was a riff on our Green Eggs and Jam musical series theme.
I exercised my “emerging” graphic design skills to make these. I had to figure out how to make booklists on Overdrive and Booksite. I filmed tons of YouTube videos of flannels and fingerplays and rhymes. There were so many components to each Starter! The Starters are the culmination of many of the new skills that I have learned thus far in the pandemic: filming, film editing, graphic design, social media. It was really satisfying to put it all together in one place.
Then I had to figure out how to distribute the material via social media. Our library doesn’t have enough followers Instagram to make clickable links. Our social media team suggested that we post the graphics to Instagram, and then link the website in linktree. We post the individual stills on Facebook with the proper links. We also post the Starters on our Kids’ Blog. In other words, we tried to cover all the bases!
I made eleven Starters in all, one for each week of our fall programming. I have been trying to market them to preschool teachers, speech and language therapists, and homeschooling folks, as I think they would be the most interested in the content. And the links will live on; we made sure to only post that would have copyright conflict, so they will be accessible for as long as they are useful.
It is difficult though to tell how effective the Starters are; there is no real concrete way to measure how much they are being accessed. This can feel kind of distressing, considering the amount of work I put in, but I believe the effort was valuable no matter what. It seems to be another aspect of pandemic librarianship that we are adapting so broadly that some initiatives are bound to be more successful than others. However, the skills that we’re learning will serve us through this time and far beyond. I cannot imagine our library NOT having a virtual facet to all of our future programming. So even if Storytime Starters don’t set the world on fire, their creation was still an opportunity to fine tune new abilities.
Also, I’m surprised to learn how enjoyable some of these new skills are! I get into an absolute flow state while editing video. And beware: I’m learning to use Garage Band! It is SO MUCH FUN! I feel like Duck at the end of Duck on a Bike. Garage Band is my tractor. Stay tuned!
What new skills have you learned during the pandemic? Share some of your endeavors with us in the comments! We’d love to see!