I used to think I understood children (and parents) pretty well. And I probably did. But becoming a mother brought me to a whole different level of understanding, and I think it made me a better person in general, and a better children’s librarian specifically.
The summer of 2020 is one for the books, with librarians nationwide facing more challenges than ever before. In addition to planning around uncertain re-openings and operations, libraries are also working to promote the importance of summer reading as “summer slide” academic regression compounds into COVID Slide, a term for the months-long learning loss due to extended school closures. To help parents and caregivers support their kids during this time, Highlights and Baker & Taylor have launched the Highlights Activity Bingo reading program.
On March 17th, the Free Library of Philadelphia closed its physical locations (along with libraries across Pennsylvania) to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Although our locations closed, our staff kept working diligently to ensure that we reached as many patrons as possible. Like the majority of library systems around the country, we didn’t have a plan for pandemics or a set of best practices guidelines for a situation like this, and our staff worked passionately and creatively to devise online programs. Book clubs met online, storytimes took place on social media, and trial-and-error guided us as we sought to keep our communities connected, engaged, and sane.
Programming librarians everywhere have added yet another hat to their already extensive collection: the video producer’s hat. Since storytime has moved online for many communities in the United States, we find ourselves having to consider production value alongside the usual preparations. Whether you are filming at home or in the library, pre-recording or live streaming – here are five tips to consider while preparing to film your program:
We entered quarantine here in Santa Clarita, CA on March 15. I expected to be able to get a lot of reading done. I had all this time, right? Pre-quarantine, I complained that I didn’t have enough time to read. Between my full-time work, my spouse and two kids, my church band and small group commitments, and caring for aging parents, I was busy. There was barely space in my day for me to read. But suddenly, our library closed its doors to the public. We were told to work one hundred percent remotely for six weeks. “Couch, here I come,” I thought. “My TBR awaits!”
Reaching children during their first three years is critical to brain development. Connecting with caregivers is vital for engagement and successful habits. As we find our programs constantly evolving, how do we adapt? Now more than ever, libraries need intentional strategies to engage young learners.
I used to be good at Reader’s Advisory. A child or caregiver approached the desk, they asked me for book ideas, and I gave them great books. End of transaction. Everybody walks away happy. Now, with my library closed and our school district’s kids home at least through the summer, we’re working on a mix of old and new strategies to help kids and families find the right books for them.
Escape rooms have been around for a few years now, and many library systems were quick to adapt in having escape rooms as library programs within their branches. Many of these programs are designed for the older set – adults (ages 18 +) and teens (ages 12 – 18). When I worked with my coworker, Hayley Burson, on our first escape room, we designed it specifically for teens because we had no idea that families with younger children (ages 5 – 11) would be interested as well. Little did we know that many families of younger children and preteens would ask to participate, so in the future we designed in-branch escape rooms with a common theme with clues that could be changed for specific age groups. Sometimes the younger kids could even solve the clues for young adults faster than they teens could.