Wright Library’s storytime moves online: ‘It makes a big difference ... to see a familiar face’

Before the coronavirus pandemic, a normal Tuesday for Sarah Kallile and her daughter Lucy included a trip to storytime at Wright Memorial Public Library in Oakwood. There, Lucy would delight in the music, stories, and playtime led by librarian Karen Mills. Now with the stay-at-home order in place, Mills is in her home, recording a storytime to be broadcast on the library s Facebook page. Kallile is in her own living room, setting up a laptop so 2-year-old Lucy can tune in.
Caption
Before the coronavirus pandemic, a normal Tuesday for Sarah Kallile and her daughter Lucy included a trip to storytime at Wright Memorial Public Library in Oakwood. There, Lucy would delight in the music, stories, and playtime led by librarian Karen Mills. Now with the stay-at-home order in place, Mills is in her home, recording a storytime to be broadcast on the library s Facebook page. Kallile is in her own living room, setting up a laptop so 2-year-old Lucy can tune in.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, a normal Tuesday for Sarah Kallile and her daughter Lucy included a trip to storytime at the Wright Memorial Public Library.

Lucy would delight in the music, stories and playtime led by librarian Karen Mills.

MORE: CORONARIVUS: Complete coverage from the Dayton Daily News

But with the stay-at-home order in place to combat the COVID-19 crisis, Tuesdays’ activities are different now. Across town, Mills is in her home, recording a storytime to be broadcast on the library’s Facebook page. Kallile is in her own living room, setting up a laptop so 2-year-old Lucy can tune in.

When Wright Library closed its building in mid-March, its librarians began to plot how to move storytimes and other programming online. Mills now leads her three weekly storytimes virtually. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are watching from home with their families.

The consistency has been important for toddlers like Lucy, who cannot grasp what is going on, Kallile said.

“Lucy lights up when she sees Ms. Karen on the screen. She sings along to the songs and follows the gestures. She always shouts ‘Hurray!’ at the end,” Kallile said. “While there are other storytime videos we could watch on YouTube, it makes a big difference for Lucy to see a familiar face singing her favorite songs and reading books.”

Jacqui Taylor, who leads Wright Library’s youth services department, said the stay-at-home order put in place to deal with the coronavirus pandemic demanded imaginative redesigning of how the library achieves its mission. Last year, 4,051 children and caregivers attended Wright Library’s storytime.

“Libraries exist in part to create young learners and to stimulate imagination,” Taylor said. “Moving storytimes online is the first of what I hope will be many successes as we try new ways to serve our community.”

MORE: Retro-style postcard is the model for downtown’s newest mural

Mills agrees, but she thought making the switch from in-person to recorded storytimes would feel awkward.

“But because people are taking the time to like, comment, and share the posts, it’s easy to remember that I have actual real-live people who are watching,” she said. “While I’m recording storytime, I’m thinking about the children who are usually in attendance and how they might react to what I’m reading or singing. Being able to still record storytimes seems like the only normal thing I’m currently doing, even though it looks a little different.”

Also lifting Mills’ spirits is a new special viewer of her storytimes, and that is her 4-year-old nephew, Josh, who lives in Indiana.

“Since the COVID-19 outbreak, on days when I don’t have a virtual storytime on Facebook, Josh will sometimes ask his mom for an ‘Aunt Karen storytime’ and we’ll Facetime together,” Mills said. “I think I enjoy our time reading together just as much or more than Josh.”

Kallile said she appreciates the library’s innovation and outreach during the quarantine.

“While we’ve always known our library to be a special place, it has further established itself as a beacon for our community to come together,” she said. “Wright Library is an invaluable resource for our family and we can’t wait to be back at storytime when the quarantine is over.”

MORE: Oakwood students, staff use 3D technology to make face shields


Wright Memorial Public Library in Oakwood has several services and programs available to patrons during the COVID-19 crisis:

• The library has absentee ballot request forms available near the front door of their building, which saves voters from having to print their own or calling the Board of Elections. These forms need to be mailed to the BOE as soon as possible, so that there is time for the BOE to mail them their ballot and for them to complete and mail their ballot back. Staff restocks the box daily and has distributed nearly 400 so far.

• One of the virtual events we are offering is a Getting Through This Together activity-based bingo game that gives residents a fun activity that can be completed from home as they explore all the library’s great online resources. Entrants are entered into a drawing for prizes.

• Answering general and research questions. While the building is closed, librarians continue to answer questions and support library patrons via phone and email. Call 937- 294-7171 or email reference@wrightlibrary.org during business hours 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

• Vast digital collection. Wrightlibrary.org offers cardholders access to e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming music, films, and TV episodes; online learning tools like Lynda.com and Great Courses; and research databases like Ancestry and Consumer Reports.

• E-cards. People without library cards or those with blocked accounts can sign up for an ecard to access Wright Library’s digital collection.

• Virtual events for adults and kids. In addition to online storytimes for kids, Wright Library is offering several programs for adults online, including a writing workshop on journaling during the quarantine, online monthly book club, and a new Facebook group for writers with daily writing prompts. Visit wrightlibrary.org/calendar to see the event details.

• Wi-fi available on the library’s grounds. For those without internet access, the library’s wifi is available on most if not all of the library’s grounds at 1776 Far Hills Avenue. Library officials request the public observe social distancing if using the Wifi on library property.

• School partnership. Children’s librarians are continuing their partnership with Oakwood City Schools by recording storytime videos that teachers can include in their virtual curriculum.