WEST LIBERTY, Iowa–A staple of summer reading programs everywhere, new West Liberty Public Library Youth Services Librarian Lilly Smith has re-imagined what events can look like during a pandemic. “Even with all the chaos that is happening in the world right now and not being able to have in-person programs, I wanted to make sure that I was still interacting with our community in other ways,” she stated. “Since I’m new to this library and town, I feel that it’s important to create a connection even though I can’t see all of our kiddos, teens, and families in person.” To meet these goals, Smith began offering online programs in July and has extended and expanded the library’s offerings for August.
After researching other online library programming and looking at teaching websites for ideas, Smith developed a wide variety of programs with ones for many age groups. She also focused on creating opportunities for enjoyable learning. “Most of all, I pick things that I find fun in the hopes that the kids and teens will find them fun too!” she emphasized. Her creative opportunities follow in the list below:
- Toddler Time, Aug. 13 and 27 (Facebook Live), 10: 30 a.m.: Babies and toddlers through age three will discover the joys of reading together through read alouds, songs, rhymes, and lap bouncing activities.
- Family Story Time, Aug. 6 and Aug. 20 (Facebook Live), 10:30 a.m.: Little ones ages four through six years old and their families can tune in to hear fun stories selected just for them read aloud and sing exciting songs together.
- Kids Crafternoons, Aug. 5 (Facebook Live) and Aug. 19 (Zoom), 2 p.m.: Kids entering kindergarten through fifth grade will enjoy simple craft projects they can make at home using easy to find materials. Join in on Aug. 5 to build a balloon rocket and Aug. 19 to make a whirligig.
- Middle School Maker Mondays, Aug. 3 (Facebook Live) and Aug. 17 (Zoom), 2 p.m.: For older children (those going into fifth through eighth grade) who love hands-on activities, these maker sessions will peak their interest. Participants will engineer their own hovercraft Aug. 3 and make mini Popsicle stick catapults Aug. 17.
- Teen Tuesdays, Aug. 11 (Facebook Live) and Aug. 18 (Zoom), 2 p.m.: Teens in sixth grade through their senior year in high school can enjoy creative and social events together. Discover how to make your own scratch art Aug. 11 and play some fun Jackbox games online Aug. 18.
Whichever of these programs appeal to you, Smith encourages you to log onto the West Liberty Public Library Facebook Page or email her for Zoom login information. “Whether we are encouraging virtual human interaction, organizing activities that provide a little escapism, or just allowing an outlet to spend a few minutes of the day–we strive to create programming that will bring joy to our families,” Smith emphasized. She also encourages anyone in Muscatine County, not just those in the City of West Liberty itself, to tune in and enjoy all of the library’s online offerings.