Vernon Area Library staff connecting with families through online story times
Even though Lincolnshire's Vernon Area Public Library is shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, staffers are connecting with patrons -- especially young ones -- via the internet.
In a program dubbed "Streaming Storytime," youth librarians are reading age-appropriate tales to kids -- and story lovers of all ages -- via the library's Facebook page, facebook.com/VernonLibrary/.
The sessions began Wednesday and will continue every day except Sunday. They're scheduled for 10 a.m. daily.
People do not need Facebook accounts to enjoy the stories -- just internet access and a web browser.
While people are separated from each other physically during this health crisis, they still need emotional connection, Vernon Area spokeswoman Catherine Savage said. That's where "Streaming Storytime" comes in.
"It provides familiar faces and a semblance of regular routine for families," Savage said.
The storytellers read from their own homes. Even though the digital format of the session is different from usual library story times, they're with the same employees who usually lead the get-togethers, Savage said.
"And it's songs and rhymes they recognize already," she said. "It's comfort and stability in a very weird time."
Savage called the sessions "the best 25 minutes of my day."
"I'm a middle-aged adult with teenage children. I am not the typical storytime audience," she said. "But it has brought me a huge grin and a surge of good brain chemicals every day."
"Streaming Storytimes" aren't limited to Vernon Area cardholders.
"We had an attendee from Nevada this morning," Savage said. "The virtual (story) room is big enough for everyone."
Vernon Area employees are looking for other ways to use technology to deliver programming, including teleconferencing software that could allow some interactivity with audience members.
"We expect to announce over the next week some upcoming programs that will be accessible that way," Savage said.
The Gail Borden Library in Elgin is holding similar programs via Facebook. The Libertyville-based Cook Memorial Public Library District has begun online programs, too.
Mundelein's Fremont Public Library will launch some starting next week.
Fremont's activities include "Baby Bounce Storytime," which is set for 10 a.m. Monday at facebook.com/events/1103427949991711, and "Bedtime Storytime," which is planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday at facebook.com/events/227320748644919.
In addition to more livestream events, video content and internet-based chats are planned to connect patrons, said Maggie Kutsunis, Fremont's youth services manager.