Virtual Programming: Reader Advisory Videos

As an avid reader myself, my favorite part of my job is talking books. It’s tough to chat in person, though, with social distancing and masks. Fortunately, several of my coworkers have come up with some great ways to reach out with reader advisory via video episodes!

While many book clubs have been difficult to move to digital, we’ve been able to continue them in both new and different ways. One more conventional book club I’ve been involved with has been the YSU Alumni & Friends Book Club. In the beginning, a small group of librarians and YSU staff, faculty, or alumni would meet on Zoom and broadcast a book discussion on Facebook Live. Community members could comment on the video and we’d do our best to respond to questions or remarks. Now we’re moving to a format where the entire discussion takes place on Zoom, and while I missed our last meeting, it seems to be going well. September and October discussions are on YouTube, and we also have a Goodreads group page.

The other type of “book club” is a recorded meeting of librarians where we discuss books on a theme. Then we post those video discussions to our library’s social media pages. One example I’ve been a guest on has been the Time Traveler’s Book Club, where the group discusses historical fiction, future fiction, or any book having to do with time travel. In the episode I joined, we talked about one of my favorite novels, Kindred by Octavia Butler, and the graphic novel adaptation by Damian Duffy and John Jennings.

My favorite of these to work on though is Shelf Indulgence, because we tackle books in genres that don’t normally get book clubbed, like campy horror, urban, and Amish fiction. These are a lot of fun to edit!

Space Cowboy — he comes up in our Shelf Indulgence “Westerns” discussion

The last reader advisory video that I’ve been helping a lot with has been Literary Love Connection. Starr had an idea to make a “dating game” style show where we try to match readers to their next favorite book using an anonymous question-and-answer format. Amelia a librarian who we never get to see on video, made a fantastically funny into/outro and does all the “advertisements” that show up too. These are hard to record because they require at least five participants, so we try to get two recorded at the same time. I love being a panelist on this one. I find hosting the most challenging role, but there are other librarians who do a much better job than I do!

Have you had any successful ideas to safely share reader advisory in the time of COVID-19, or do you have a book you think I’d should read? I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment or contact me. Thanks for reading!

Virtual Programming: Learning Library Videos

I feel very lucky that I was able to start library work in August 2019. It gave me the opportunity to complete the entire training regimen, even if there are still some gaps in my knowledge and practice. It wasn’t long, however, until COVID-19 closed our system, and I had to adapt quickly to a new working environment.

When our system closed on March 16th, 2020, workers were neither furloughed nor given particular tasks while those in charge took some time to figure out what to do. In that time, I began investigating the resources I had at home, which included several devices — a desktop computer, an iPad, my phone — and learning how to screen-record and edit video in iMovie. Within a week or two, I had made my first video for what became our system’s online Learning Library catalog, Online Collection Apps. I focused on our online collection apps because I wanted our patrons to be able to access our collection even when the buildings were closed.

The second video I created came about with the help of my brilliant mother-in-law, an avid reader who lives in a different state. I made a FaceTime Instructional Video so that other folks living apart from their loved ones during lockdown could learn how to easily video chat with one another.

A screenshot from the FaceTime Instructional Video featuring my mother-in-law showing off her latest favorite book, Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone

Another video I made around this time, No-Sew Face Mask, was so that people without sewing skills or other resources could cover their mouths and noses for quick errands.

Of course, our library system took some time in reopening, trying to do it safely and incrementally. While most buildings remained closed, several larger branches opened for curbside service so patrons could access materials and prints. Later, some of the smaller branches opened for limited computer use. In early August, nearly every branch opened for browsing, computer use, and socially distanced help, but we still do not offer in-person programming yet. Our patrons miss a lot of these programs, especially craft ones, but I did make a No-Sew T-Shirt Craft video that might help them (and you!) refresh their wardrobes at home without having to buy something new.

While I’d agree that videos are not a complete replacement for face to face interaction, I think they’re still a great way to learn something new and gain some inspiration and motivation for trying new skills. I don’t know how to crochet or play the ukelele or design in 3D, but several of my talented coworkers have also been creating videos to share their programming virtually, and I’m excited to fail at them all.

Pronoun Templates for Vinyl Printers

Hi everyone! Today is October 21, 2020. A long time ago (back in February or March…) I had started planning a program to use the vinyl printer in our library makerspace to create pronoun stickers. Since I could not do that program after all, I thought at least I’d share the pronoun templates I’d created!

I created these to be used at the makerspace at the Michael Kusalaba Library in Youngstown, Ohio, but they should be able to work in many other makerspaces. I believe the vinyl printers available in Akron and Cleveland are compatible, but check with your own local library and be prepared to learn! Of course, if you have a vinyl printer at home, you can try these out there as well. If you want to know more about our vinyl printer, my friend Carla made a video that might help you get started.

These templates can be resized and reoriented in the vinyl printer software, and can be used in a variety of ways — to make window clings, stickers, t-shirts, tote bags, etc. depending on what kinds of vinyl are available to you.

I only finished a few pronouns (he/him, she/her, they/them) before our library closed for a few months, but if there’s enough interest I can get back into the makerspace on my days off and create more (I’ve been working at a different branch since we reopened and we do not have the required software). I can also write up a pathfinder so you can create your own text-based projects, or even just change the font.

Happy making, and happy International Pronouns Day!

The following files are blank text (no fill) with a cut contour outline:

You can see an example of a t-shirt I made using this template on this blog page (it’s the second one).

The following files are black text with a blank border and a cut contour outline:

These stickers will look a bit like this one when printed, and as soon as I figure out which flash drive has the “ask me about my pronouns” file on it, I’ll share that one too.

One final note: I created these for personal use, but feel free to create something to sell using these templates.

Let me know if you want to see more content like this!