From mid-March through July 2020, the Early Learning team of the Salt Lake County Library (18 branches)–Susan Spicer, EL Team Manager, and Tami Austin, EL Senior Librarian and certified Yoga instructor–lead a team of librarians that created 97 Facebook Live Storytimes, including 12 Bedtime Stories & Songs with special guests from museums and other community organizations and 18 Yoga Storytimes. They also offered weekly interactive virtual storytimes starting in June. I had the opportunity to interview these EL programming stars and ask them about the technology they used and how they faced the challenges of suddenly going online with their ages 0 to 5 programming. Interview start TB: So, what kind of equipment and recording devices have you been using and what seems to work the best? TA: Well, I cry a lot. Does that count? TB: Yes!
As libraries continue adjusting services and moving toward more virtual programming options, we’ve often found more questions than answers. As we experiment, share, and grow together, we’ll continue improving how we interact with and touch our communities, even if our physical spaces are inaccessible. It’s important that as we do so, we don’t overlook a critical piece of library services: patron privacy and security. The forthcoming ALSC Virtual Storytime Services Resource Guide will explore these issues and more. In the meantime, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, shared some key thoughts for libraries to consider. We’ve summarized the highlights of our discussion below.