How Libraries Get Creative with Virtual Programming

Libraries across the globe have had to invent creative and fun ideas to virtually engage with their patrons during the shutdown. Take a look at some of these programs offered by other librarians and consider using them for your own programs.

DIY Craft Videos

The Bernardsville Library in New Jersey has established its own YouTube channel where Youth Services staff members have filmed several virtual storytimes for children. They also started a “DIY Crafts” series which focuses on “hands-on activity, sometimes a craft, gardening, or cooking, and often includes a related story. Programs have included planting an egg carton herb garden, making easy ice cream, pancake art, and sock chia pets.”

Birthday Greetings
Also at the Bernardsville Library, staff are sending birthday greetings to their younger patrons to help make their celebrations in isolation special. “They pick a favorite topic and the librarian reads the book, dedicating it to the child by first name. One parent wrote in, ‘Oh my!!! This is amazing and I appreciate it so much. It has literally brought tears to my eyes and it’s such an innovative idea for making birthdays special at this really hard time. Her birthday is tomorrow and we will surprise her with this. THANK YOU SO MUCH!'”

Sharing Collections

Wendy Roque, a reference librarian of the Bryant Library in Rosalyn, New York, has launched a weekly series of Instagram videos called “For the Record,” where she sits through her expansive vinyl collection and shares the histories behind her favorite selections. 

Pet Hour

The Long Beach Library in Long Beach, New York asks patrons to share the love of their furry friends! The library staff invites them to an hour-long video chat with their own cuddly pets.

Safe at Home Reading Club

In Auburn, Indiana, the Eckhart Public Library encourages people to read 30 minutes per day. Each day that they read at least 30 minutes, they can enter a drawing for a chance to win a gift card from a local business. In addition, when the library reopens, each participant will receive a ‘Safe at Home Reading Club’ button. 

Wi-Fi hotspots and bookmobiles

For patrons without access to the internet, an extremely viral resource particularly at this time, the Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia has set up a bookmobile with Wi-Fi hotspots to travel around local “food distribution sites, grocery stores, business parking lots” around the Williamsburg community. Additionally, “the library has set up several long-term WiFi hotspot locations where users can park and access WiFi from their cars 24/7.” This allows easy access for those who do not have an internet connection at home. “We know that many people in our community depend on the library for internet access, and we want to be able to continue to offer this essential service even while the buildings are closed,” said library director Betsy Fowler.