Remember sitting at the library ready to hear someone read from the latest popular book, or commiserating with friends over the meaning behind a plotline at book club? Programs like these and so many more have been offered at local libraries for years, meant to inspire the love of reading in people of all ages. Of course, getting together for these types of things is on hold just now, as the measures implemented to stop the coronavirus keep us apart.
The restrictions don’t mean library programs have ground to a halt, however. The Region of Waterloo Library (RWL), for instance, has taken its programming to the digital world, giving us another avenue take part, share, and dive into the literary world.
Since March, programs like book club and many others have moved online. In fact, most of the programming offered by RWL has moved in that direction, with the exception of a few programs like ‘Baby and Me’ which “does not translate well to the online world,” says Sheryl Tilley, manager of library services with RWL.
“We’ve tried to move every single program online,[however], there are some that do not translate easily (to the digital world),” said Tilley. “Some of that doesn’t translate well, but we’ll be looking into that [and] we’re doing a lot of thinking for the fall programming [and considering] what that is going to look like as the guidelines change or if the guidelines change (allowing us to reopen).”
Some upcoming online programs include book club on July 23 and August 20, Summer Reading Club – which will be running throughout the summer and ending August 31 – and even online events such as trivia and Dungeons and Dragons, meant to give youth a chance to connect and participate with others.
Offering so much online programming is new territory for RWL, but Tilley said the transition has gone well. Going digital has allowed them to expand some programs such as the journaling program they ran a month ago, and they have seen an increase in their social media and online presence because of it.
While some online programs such as the book club will be limited in the number of participants, others can allow for an infinite number of participants and will not be limited, she said.
Book club will allow up to 12 people to take part in the event each month. Tilley says that’s the perfect number they found so everyone involved can participate and have an effective discussion, so there’s no change from the usual in-person routine. The online programs run on the same schedule as they would in person, but people can register online, read at their own pace, and then participate in the online call. Books can be reserved and picked up through the takeout service being offered, or they can go online and get a digital copy of the book.
Also moving online is the Summer Reading Club. RWL has taken part in this program for the last 15 years, giving more than 1,000 kids each year a fun reason to read. Kids are encouraged to read books and they are also able to take part in missions like building a fort or going on a virtual museum tour, all meant to help kids learn while they have fun.
Tilley says this was one of the trickier programs to move online, but it is also one where kids can take part in more than just reading. In return for all the hard work done, they get points that can then be turned in for prizes at their library branches. She says while some kids may get a kick out of the prizes, at the end of the day this is about the love of reading.
“[If] you read 100 minutes and you get a certain number of points [and when]… you reach a certain reading point levels, you’re actually eligible for prizes. And so, you can go to your branch, and you can pick up your prize bag of goodies in it. And the higher up you go in terms of levels – as in how much you’ve read – you’re eligible for different levels of prizes. And then there’s a top level of prizes that are amazing, amazing,” said Tilley.“If I was a child, I’d be reading like crazy to put my name in for these prizes. But it’s not about the prize. It’s about the love of reading, but it’s that whole summer excitement.”
Book club titles, along with event and Summer Reading Club information can be found online.