Prosper Community Library has had in-person programs in the past, including clubs and activities for people of all ages, but the coronavirus pandemic has impacted its ability to bring people into the library space, which staffers have overcome in a creative way – by going virtual.
Director of Library Services Leslie Scott said that when she looked at surrounding area libraries, all were doing virtual programs.
"Our programs are incredibly popular and we would not be able to have a space large enough for the attendance that we typically have safely due to COVID," Scott said.
Prosper Community Library’s programs will be pre-recorded and available on the library’s YouTube page, youtube.com/channel/UCVs6i6TYSCry9p8aeAcX5fA.
"Nothing is live," Scott said. "It’s pretty much (that) you watch when it’s convenient for you to watch it."
There are over 100 new programs being published for patrons of all ages including young children, tweens and teens and adults.
One of the programs for younger viewers is called Preschool Story Time. It focuses on reviewing letters and phonics with accompanying stories.
Scott said she is especially proud of the addition of an American Sign Language interpreter who will appear in a bubble inside of the program and will sign the letters along with the show.
For teens and tweens, there’s a Marvel trivia game that’s being broadcast and they can guess the answers along with the show.
"It’s prerecorded of course, but it’s interactive fun," Scott said.
There are also programs for adults, including "Crochet with Kat," which will teach viewers to crochet, "Yoga in the Stacks" and "Repurposed Books," a program that will demonstrate how to upcycle old books into art projects.
However, Scott points out that the majority of the programs are geared for the under- seventh grade crowd.
Harry Potter-themed programming returns. There is also "Draw With Me" and some spotlight programs, as well as one called "Lil’ Yogis," which is a family friendly yoga class for adults and youngsters. Also, look for a new class called "Recipes in Reading."
Although the switch from in-person to virtual programming was made in response to the global pandemic, it does have the benefit of allowing the library to host more programs than before.
"We are actually able to offer many more programs virtually," Scott said. "We would not hold all of these programs in the library, we just couldn’t possibly do it, but because we’re able to pre-tape we can put them out that way."
Scott added, "We can offer some things virtually that we couldn’t offer here at the library, and that’s an awesome opportunity."
Being able to offer more kinds of programming also gives the librarians more freedom and creativity in coming up with new shows for the virtual platform.
Scott explains that figuring out what kinds of programs to create is a combination of what staff member believe the community would want to be a part of, as well as the staffers’ own talents.
"It’s really showcasing what we can provide to the community," Scott said. "The staff … came to me with all these ideas and then we just fleshed those out, molded them and made it work."
An example is an idea that the staff had for doing a show about illustrators because most of the time in children’s stories, the focus is on the writing and the writers, but maybe not as much about what goes into illustrating the stories.
"We have the best staff around here and they each have amazing talent," Scott said. "We pride ourselves on being on the cusp of technology, of being open to opportunities, taking advantage of how we can reach our patrons of our community."
The virtual programs can add encouragement and creativity for patrons who are stuck inside during the pandemic, Scott said. Although she is hopeful that in the future the library can get back to in-person programs, no one knows what’s around the bend.
"If we need to continue with virtual (programming), we will. If we’re ready to open up safely, we will. If we need to do a combination of both, we will," she said.
"We strive to do what’s best for our community … so we’re going to do what we can safely, and if everything starts opening back up and the world starts looking quote-unquote `normal’ again, we will, too."