March 20, 2020

Helping your patrons adjust to online learning

These are extraordinary times. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to school closures for 30 million U.S. children, possibly through the end of the school year. Your library can offer online help to parents and caregivers who find themselves in charge of classwork as schools switch to remote learning. Here are some online resource ideas for your library to share.

For early learners

  • Conduct storytime on Facebook Live. School Library Journal has an updated page with the list of publishers who temporarily altered policies to allow libraries and teachers to do this without risking license infringement. Add to the educational experience by doing live craft demonstrations and singing songs, as you would during an in-person storytime. Build excitement and interest by promoting ahead your online session ahead of time through email and social media. When the session ends, post the live video for on-demand viewing.  
  • Share information and links about your library’s digital books for youngsters, including Overdrive’s animated picture books and e-book picture books.
  • Kanopy Kids has a complete series of online storytime videos for little ones.

For grade-school children

  • Share home-based STEM learning activities created by your librarians. Create an activity page on your library’s website and share the activities you create on social media. These kinds of posts do particularly well on Pinterest.
  • Flipster is a great resource for educational magazines for kids. Share a title a day with a direct link to the title on social media.
  • EBSCO eBooks is partnering with nearly 100 publishers to waive simultaneous user limits wherever possible, ensuring unlimited access to e-books to customers. Read more about that here.
  • Overdrive has many chapter and early reading books available in e-book format.
  • Share titles from Hoopla’s educational audiobooks for school-age kids.
  • Promote Kanopy Kids storytime videos for grade-schoolers, as well as videos on science and math concepts, history lessons, and language lessons for grade-schoolers. 
  • Canadian authors are reading their books online. You can share links to these videos. A full list is available on this CBC webpage.
  • Books Create Australia announced a special arrangement for library storytimes during the COVID-19 outbreak. You can read about that here.

For teens and adult learners

  • If your library provides an online homework help option like Brainfuse, let your patrons know.
  • Promote databases for teens and college students who must now complete assignments at home. Some good choices include LearningExpress Library and the Science Reference Center. 
  • Flipster is an excellent source for downloadable magazines for older readers.
  • Kanopy has films on a variety of historical and science subjects to supplement high school and college online learning. 

Ideas for learners of all ages

  • Create and promote themed e-book and downloadable audiobook lists. For kids, a list of books centered around being sick, dealing with germs, and emergency preparedness can help caregivers explain difficult concepts to youngsters. For adults, this is a great time to highlight e-books, e-audiobooks, downloadable magazines, and online comic books. 
Example of booklist digital flyer in LibraryAware

Communicating about your digital resources
Email and social media are the quickest ways to let your community know the resources they can access online through the library. 

If you are a LibraryAware subscriber, you can use our new e-blast template, which includes already embedded links to library-led storytimes and reading ideas for kids. Just search “COVID” to find it. As always, our templates are fully customizable, so you can share your library’s specific resources and information with your patrons.

The special e-blast template also includes places to insert resources for teens and kids

You can also create eye-catching graphics sized right for any social media platform using the new social media widget templates. Just type the name of the platform you want to use (like Twitter or Instagram) into the search box to see designs in several sizes, or search by the social media channel to narrow your choice.

Instagram-sized widget template in LibraryAware

Finally, it’s a great idea to ask your community what they need from the library during this crisis. Include an email address where they can submit their comments and ideas. You’ll be providing value in a time of crisis and demonstrating care and compassion for your community.

Angela Hursh is an Engagement Specialist for NoveList. She is reading The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley.


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