Youth Programming Goes Virtual—Storytimes, Crafts, Teen Activities, and More

Erica Melko, OCLC Communications Coordinator/Editor, Membership and Research /

Image courtesy Robert R. Jones Public Library on Facebook

As libraries and schools close their physical spaces in response to COVID-19 and CDC recommendations for physical distancing, educators and library staff alike are moving learning and programming to digital platforms. Assembled below is a list of resources and examples for virtual youth programming from public libraries that we've found over the past week.

This list is by no means comprehensive and is intended to provide public library staff with a few resources and examples of how others have created online programming to engage their communities remotely. We understand that public library responses, resources, and support in response to COVID-19 are going to vary significantly across the U.S., and our goal is to support public library staff by connecting you to ideas, resources, and each other during this unique and difficult time.

A great starting place to find ideas for online services is this growing Google Doc list of Remote Services Libraries Can Provide, created by Natalie Binder, director at Jefferson County R.J. Bailar Public Library (Florida). 

Tips for Making Video Content and Doing Storytimes Online

Jester Jim's 8 tips
For teachers, librarians, and small business on how to make videos during coronavirus

Guest Post: Storytime Goes Digital
In this Youth Services Shout-Out blog post hosted by the Wisconsin Library Association, Children’s Librarian Abby Bussen of Muskego Public Library (Wisconsin) lists 10 reflections on her experience adapting her library’s Storytime program to an online format.

Copyright and Permissions

Many publishers have temporarily adapted policies to make it easier to program storytime and remote learning activities without violating copyright policies. The following resources are tracking these changes:

School Library JournalPublishers Adapt Policies To Help Educators
School Library Journal is tracking messages directly from individual publishers as they adjust policies. This list will continue to update as more publishers release statements.

Author Permissions-Book Reading Recordings
Jennifer Brown, Youth and Family Services Manager at Suffolk Public Library (Virginia) created and manages a Google Doc for updated online author, publisher, and music permissions, as well as storytime, crafting, at-home activity ideas, and more.

Live Storytime Virtual Events

Muskego Public Library—Stay-in Storytime and Singalong programming
Muskego Public Library will hold regular online Stay-in Storytime and Singalong programming. Storytimes will be live every Tuesday at 9:30 am and Singalongs will be live every Thursday at 9:30 am.

Robert R. Jones Public Library—Facebook Live Storytime with Ms. Angie Featuring Pete the Cat!
The Robert R. Jones Public Library (Illinois) asks viewers to “Tune in to Facebook Live every Thursday morning at 11:00am [CST] for a very special virtual storytime featuring Ms. Angie and Pete the Cat! We'll read stories, have dance parties, and provide easy-to-follow instructions for a simple craft that can be made from objects found at home! RSVP with your children's names so Pete can give them a very special shout out!”

Dakota County Library—Virtual Storytimes
Dakota County Library (Minnesota) is hosting a Virtual Storytimes event every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:30 AM (EST)—“Supporting early literacy and reading readiness is important, especially while schools are closed. Join us to connect with your friendly librarians for a fun 20-minute storytime with books, rhymes and songs. Children ages 3 and up with their families are welcome.”

Los Gatos Library—Facebook Live Storytime, Crafternoon, and more
Los Gatos Library (California), is using Facebook Live to host several types of programming remotely. The library has a series of regularly scheduled Storytime events that they will host on Facebook live, including Bilingual Storytime and Terrific Twos Storytime. Check out these programming events and more on their Events page on Facebook.

Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County—Virtual Storytime on YouTube
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (Ohio) has created a YouTube playlist of pre-recorded storytime readings.

Additional Online Programming Activities

Image courtesy Pickens County Library System on Facebook
Photo: Phone Holders - Quarantine Craft with
Stephanie and Nora from Pickens County
Library System

Beardsley Library—Teen Activities Facebook Live
The Beardsley Library (Connecticut) hosts Teen Activities Facebook Live on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1pm EST. Beardsley Library will be posting their live programming videos on their Facebook feed.

Brooklyn Library—Virtual Programming Series
Brooklyn Public Library (New York) has an entire virtual programming series, including Storytime, Virtual Teens Write Stuff, Book Adventures, and more.

Pickens County Library System—Quarantined Crafts and themed Storytime
The Pickens County Library System (South Carolina) is hosting weekly episodes of their series “Quarantined Crafts”—which is fun for a range of ages—and themed live storytime events. This week’s theme was “Storytime! Fun books about bears!

We hope you find this list from library colleagues around the country to be an inspiration in these challenging times. Please explore other WebJunction articles collecting strategies and approaches to your important work: