How to Provide Virtual Programming & Outreach

ATTN Library Staff: Please consider adding a sign on library book drops asking patrons to keep library materials at home, or lock your book drops, if possible. Encourage patrons to return books to the library when it reopens. This will help minimize the spread of germs.


While our doors are closed, how can we offer virtual programs and services to our communities? STLS staff have collected ideas and best practices for your consideration, below.

Virtual Storytimes

Storyline Online -The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. [These readings can be played/scheduled by YOU.] Each reading is accompanied by an activity guide. Invite your community to join you on Facebook at a particular time. Listen to the book, read by a celebrity. Then, use the activity guide to encourage kids to do an activity – led by you, their local librarian, as a group.

List of authors/publishers that have given permission to use their works in live streaming. 

Harper Kids has a YouTube channel with some of their great books ready to be shown ANY time: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiYzMwyBPG96EDjV7MAohaCnXoQnqiBmG (copy and paste link into browser)

Use this as a springboard for an online program similar to using the stories on Storyline Online (see above.) 

Let’s Keep Reading – An evolving Google Doc of authors and illustrators who are hosting livestream events [Promote these events in advance. Encourage patrons to access via your Facebook and/or links.]

Copyright Considerations

Please check out these resources for IMPORTANT information about copyright issues related to hosting virtual storytimes:

“Tackling Copyright Concerns When Taking Storytime Online” 

ALA LibGuide: Copyright for Libraries

Livestream Storytime from the Public Library

Know & Go: Spotlight on Virtual Storytimes – Amigos Library Services – register for free to view the recording of this event which happened in the past.

Virtual Tours

Online Courses for Youth

Direct parents and caregivers to Day by Day New York, a website with a new book for parent and child to read together and other activities to develop early literacy skills: talk, sing, read, write, and play. 

Don’t forget to check out KidLit TV for podcasts, read alouds, activities, book trailers, and so much more! 

Support caregivers who are looking to provide educational opportunities for out-of-school children.
Check out the following resources:

  • Khan Academy provides free courses for preK ages through adults. Suggested daily homeschool schedules are provided, as well as a “Parent Quick Start Guide.”
  • Scholastic is providing online courses that include tiered lessons for preK through sixth grade.
  • Gale (under “Enhance Instruction”) provides free access to interdisciplinary, curriculum-aligned resources for elementary through college students.
  • BrainPOP is offering free family access to its distance learning resources for grades K-12.

Other Resources

This is the perfect time to begin that genealogical research you’ve been meaning to do! This Genealogy Research guide from NYPL can help you get started.

Host a book club on Facebook. Montour Falls has quite a few, if you’re looking for ideas to get started! Worried that not everyone can get the same title? Start a thematic/genre book club where everyone reads a different title and shares their takeaways.

OverDrive is a great resource to ensure that patrons can find new reading material in order to participate.

Urge patrons to take their census while they are home! It can be completed online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 1-844-330-2020.

Top Ways to Reach Out and Connect with your Community

  • • Call your homebound or less mobile patrons to check in on them.
  • • Change your answering machine message to reflect closure hours, and include a time when patrons can call back to have “distant office hours” with a librarian over the phone. 
  • • If you are handling materials, please:
    • ○ Wear gloves
    • ○ Clean/disinfect materials going OUT and coming IN.
      • *Ideally, you should not be moving materials in/out of the library at this time, per recommendations from STLS.
  • • Use social media to communicate with your community.
    • Use Facebook’s “pin” feature to keep a post pinned to the top of your library’s Facebook page with all of the most important information: closure dates, wifi information, services and programs offered virtually.
    • ○ Plan to post, at least, once per day. Use Facebook’s scheduling function to make posting every day hassle free!
    • ○ Host programs via Facebook Live such as book clubs or build a program around an author reading their stories. 
    • ○ Feature an author or a genre on a post or two. 
    • ○ Connect patrons with free online educational opportunities for out-of-school children.
  • Leave your wifi on and publicize the wifi password on your library website, social media, and on signs posted to library doors & windows in order to allow patrons to access the internet from your parking lot.
    • ○ Put a reminder on a library window or door for patrons to take the CENSUS while they are connected to the internet!

It is ok to post your wifi network name and password to social media!