Librarians at the Blackfalds Public Library have come up with creative digital programming after they were forced to close their doors abruptly at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nicole Rice, young adult librarian, said they had very little warning and she is still concerned for clients who have little to no online access.
“They can’t read online, so we are still concerned about those people because they still don’t have access to books and materials,” she said.
For their clients with online access, Blackfalds librarians continue to develop new programs and shift some of their former programs online.
“We are quickly as we can try to develop some kind of method of getting in touch with kids and adults we do programming with and getting some programs running again,” Rice said.
Laura Mackenzie, youth services librarian, said she quickly put some Lego and Megablock challenges online to fill the gap and she has since added further programming.
“I am now doing online story time on Zoom and I hope to progress that. I am doing it twice per week now and I am hoping to do more soon,” she said.
Rice said she moved their four Dungeons and Dragons groups on to an online platform.
“I jumped on that because we have three or four groups of D&D kids and adults running at the library. I threw up two then threw groups and we immediately got some of the kids that couldn’t play at the library anymore,” she said.
Rice added she has been working on developing online e-book clubs, which can be tricky due to cost of e-books.
“E-books are pretty expensive and we don’t get to access them simultaneously. We are working on developing a teen or youth book club as well using the online platform Zoom,” she said.
Long-term, Rice said she is also working on library magazine.
“We are calling for contributors to put in their work and then we will put it together. That one is a slow build, but I am determined,” she said.
Rice is also continuing with Girls Who Code group, who are currently working on developing a videogame.
Currently, the library is not allowed to do delivery or curbside pick-up due to the fact COVID-19 can live on physical surfaces for an extended period of time.
“Maybe that will be doing something we can do in the future but we have to wait to see what the government says on that,” Rice said.
For many local seniors who relied on physically visiting the staff at the library — Rice said they and their front desk staff have shifted to phone calls with regulars.
“They are still calling, checking in on us and seeing how we are doing,” she said.We haven’t been able to do curbside or delivery as of yet,” she said.
Rice said the feedback from their clients has been positive and they are working to with kids, young adults and parents to ensure their programming is adaptable to student’s school schedules.
Key to all of their digital programs is ensuring cost is not a factor to access.
“Everything possible is free and it is really important to continue those friendships. A lot of our kids met at the library,” she said.
Mackenzie added libraries are essential at this time due to the community they develop.
“I think people need somewhere to reach out to be part of the community. We allow that,” she said
Rice added, “We are looking forward to doing more things online. We can hopefully continue on until we can open all the way again.”