Friday, March 20, 2020

Storytime Goes Digital - Guest Post

Today's guest post is from the ever fabulous
Abby Bussen of Muskego Public Library!

Let me start by saying this: I am NOT an expert on doing digital storytimes—I just livestreamed my very first one ever, so I am sure I will continue to evolve and learn as this becomes my weekly practice.

I chose to do a full storytime with a slightly modified format. I did this because my storytime kiddos know exactly what’s coming next and research proves that kids routines are beneficial for all kids. They’re also particularly important for our kiddos with developmental differences. This is an unprecedented situation, but I want my families to have something they can count on.

Here are some observations I made as I reflected on this experience.

1)      I realized in my trial run that if I used forward-facing camera, everything was mirror image, so pictures and words were all flipped. If you can (if you have another set of hands around), do the normal camera instead of forward-facing. I had EXTREME anxiety about not being able to see myself until I remembered that for the viewer, this experience was no different than normal. In short, it’s hard not to be self-conscious because We (as a society) are so used to being able to reshoot and review everything we create to perfect it before posting, but I’m here to tell you this: you’re great and you know it, so just go with it!

2)      I wanted to be far enough away from the camera to do my shape game and read and have everything in the shot, but in the future, I will move closer specifically when I’m reading the book(s). When I rewatched it (I shouldn’t have, btw, I was so critical of myself in the rewatch), it was a little hard to see the pictures. I’m glad I’m an animated reader, I think that’s what saved me in the greatest “not being able to see the pictures very clearly” debacle of my life. No one complained about it tho, so [shrug].

3)      I chose to do a format super similar to what I do on a normal basis instead of posting a clip of me reading. I did this to give our kiddos the familiarity of routine. I have considered doing just a reading on its own and posting that either on our page or on YouTube. If I do this, I will add in subtitles as an accessibility measure.

4)      Get ready to not be interrupted. Seriously, when was the last time you got through a whole storytime without interruption? Never. It’s a little awkward.

5)      I also thought, well maybe I shouldn’t clap and say good job after everything because who knows if they’re doing a good job. But then I remembered the kids whose parents have told me that if the parents don’t clap and say “Great job listening!” after every book they read at home, the kids get like legit MAD. It’s part of my routine, so I included it. I felt weird clapping in a room by myself, but to the kids watching, I’m clapping for them.

6)      Get ready to cry afterwards. I’m not kidding. When I saw pictures and videos of the kids I love following along…WOW. The community response has been SO WORTH my anxiety. I WAS SWEATING BUCKETS DURING AND AFTER THIS. Storytimes virtually, it turns out, are higher stress than in person for me :D

7)      I ordered a mic and tripod last week in anticipation of this possibility, but it’s not here yet, so this was all shot on my iPhone. I logged into our library’s Facebook page and went live and it went ok. If you don’t have high-tech gear, you’ll be ok. I promise.

8)      I spent a lot of the night before/morning of talking to my virtual hype person – another librarian whom I love deeply, who is doing her own first virtual storytime too, and who was also nervous about this new platform. You are going to do GREAT AT THIS! You are great at this every week in person! Your families love you and can’t wait to see you! Authors and illustrators are gonna watch you read their books and be like “Wow, that librarian is CRUSHING this. They are better at this than I am! I should have them read all my books to people all the time!” I mean, maybe they’ll be like that. They would be like that if they saw you reading their book. Just sayin’.

9)      IF YOU NEED A HYPE PERSON, I WILL BE THAT PERSON FOR YOU! Don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I will tell you all about how great you are and I won’t be lying.

10)   Overprepare. Just today I realized that I might need to stream storytimes as I work remote from home and I have no idea how long that could last. No one does. Tracy Jordan (30 Rock) said “Live every week like it’s shark week.” It doesn’t have a direct correlation, but I’m taking it this way: Leave work every day with everything you need to do your job from home for an indefinite period of time. 

My #1 crush, Lin-Manuel Miranda, wrote “History has its eyes on you.” I encourage you to take that phrase to heart. Journal. Blog. Take photos. Track your experience. History textbooks will write about this crisis and the first-hand experiences of all of us are valuable. If you have reflections from your own virtual storytimes, please comment below! 


Stacey said...

Well this was the boost that I needed! I told myself that story time would be just fine online, for the very reasons you stated. Thanks for reminding me after I panicked.

Miss Jess said...

I did a live story and craft last week and have now slowly settled into a routine of prerecording and posting a video for the younger kids once a week and a video for the older kids once a week and likely a song and sign once a week. I think my biggest struggle has been just not feeling efficient. It takes me just as much time to plan a 15 minute segment as my usual 45-60 minute programs. And also comparing what I'm doing to other librarians.

So, things I tell myself about every half hour when I'm "clocked in":
It is ok if what I'm doing looks different from what other librarians are doing.
It is ok if what I am doing takes me longer than usual.
It is ok to take more breaks in my day and to remember to just breathe.

I can't stop, because I honestly feel that library work is important to my community. And I know I'm not the only librarian who is passionate about this. So whatever little things we can do to keep our heads and carry on are really important. Definitely take care of yourself and of those around you so we can keep doing the beautiful, magical things we do in the world!

Marge Loch-Wouters said...

Wise words Jess! This isn't a contest. It's just about what we can do in a really crazy time to connect with our kids and families. No pressure!