Your Facebook Page is Your New Public Library Branch: Using Facebook During Covid-19

THERE’S A STRONG CHANCE that your public library is closed during the Covid-19 crisis. Most importantly, let me just start off by saying that I think that’s a very good thing. I won’t go into details about Covid-19 but we do know this: humans can pass this terrible thing on to each other and to stop that we should be stopping contact with each other as much as possible right now. Sadly for librarians, a profession of people who want to do nothing more than connect with the community members, this means closing our doors at this time. This is the right thing to do and I commend so many librarians out there for making this tough choice. It’s the right choice. Good job.

But just because we’re not able to physically be in our public library spaces interacting with our community members doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to do amazing things. This is where social media, specifically Facebook, comes into the picture. I’ve written a lot about how social media has been less than stellar over the last few years, but here right now we have a chance to reclaim the good that social media promised back in the day and then turn that around and deliver it to our community members. After all during this Covid-19 time our community members need us more than ever. They need someone to connect with. They need someone to share positivity and hope with them. I can’t think of a better organisation to do that than the public library. We’re already very much in the business of being there for our community members with our many services. It doesn’t have to stop just because our buildings are closed at the moment. We can make a difference. We just need to turn towards our newest public library branch, our Facebook page.

All of you reading this have the ability to do this. You have the creativity and drive inside of you. If there’s one thing I know about librarians during my time in this profession is that there’s an endless supply of energy, creativity, and drive in each and every one of you. If you’re a director or a leader of a library, all that you have to do is SAY YES TO YOUR STAFF and give them the freedom to try out these things. It can’t hurt. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Step up and lead by saying yes. It’s that easy.

Here are a few things we’ve been trying out at one of the branches I manage, the Johnsonville Library @ the Waitohi Community Hub in Wellington, NZ. What are some things you’re doing on your Facebook pages during Covid-19? Let’s share with each other and continue to spread the good vibrations that public libraries put out into the world.

LIVE STORYTIMES

This is an easy one. One thing we had to overcome before we made the leap into online story times was to get proper permissions from the copyright holders. Copyright is a silly thing in normal times and especially silly in the Covid-19 times but it was a hurdle. Here in New Zealand our national organisation LIANZA took care of that and they did a great job.

Once you have that in place, do the same thing that you usually do: find your stories, set the stage, and go live. Be the animated Youth Services Librarian that you usually are. You will rock it. You will do great. And you will have an impact. For even more reach, find those local Facebook groups in your community and share it there. Parents will love you for doing this. Your community will recognise just how kind and positive this act is and they will respond with great happiness. Kudos to Stephen Clothier for leading this charge at my local library branch.

LIVE MUSIC

Librarians are highly talented and interesting people. Talk to any librarian out there and dig a little deeper and you will find some amazing creative talent in there. There’s a lot of musicians, artists, sewers, dancers, and more out there. How can we connect with our community members during this time of great need? We share our talents with them.

Do you or any of your staff have any musical talents? Why not have nightly concerts? Once again I called upon the great talents of Youth Services Stephen Clothier for our nightly concert (which we’ve dubbed QUARANTUNES over at our Facebook page) to lead the charge on this. So far we’ve featured him (he’s also a classically trained pianist) to perform nightly. I’ve jumped in once and I know we’ve got other staff out there looking to contribute. Are any of your staff dancers? Why not have them put together a nice short piece that can be shared? Sewing? Librarians sew a lot. Why not have your staff give brief sewing tips over Facebook live?

There’s so much to do and there’s so many talents in all of the librarians out there. Why not share? The world needs more creativity and this is one positive thing we can do for our community members during this time.

OTHER FUN THINGS TO DO

Watching something 3D print may not sound like a fun thing to do, but what about a time-lapse? What about a time-lapse accompanied by live music written by a staff member? That’s what our Makerspace Specialist Jamie Boorman did one day as he worked from home. What you have is an interesting glimpse at how things are 3D printed accompanied by a very creative and artistic act all done by a staff member. Encourage creativity at every step of the way! Library leaders and directors, say YES to your staff! Let them shine!

CRAFTS! Just because crafts are a very in person and tactile thing doesn’t mean that you can do them. Instructional videos are huge on YouTube, so why can’t they be huge on our Facebook pages? Our staff in libraries are experts at crafts and working with kids, so why not share videos of great things to do craft-wise during this time? Many thanks to Debbie for putting these videos together. She’s usually posting them over to our Tawa Library branch Facebook page if you want to stay tuned.

And finally for now, here’s one of my favourites. Claire Guest and her son Harrison took some time out of their day to perform this amazing Covid-19 version of THIS LITTLE PIGGY. Not only is it cute, but it has a good message during these times….be a good little piggy and stay home! Take care of yourselves! I love it when staff members let loose and show their true selves. This is a beautiful moment that was captured and shared for all to see and enjoy.

I hope everyone out there reading this is staying safe and healthy, both mentally and physically. Remember that this is only temporary and that when we stick together we can get through anything. And we will get through this. Positivity and good vibrations always rise to the top and this situation is no different. For now, get on Facebook and SHINE and SHARE for your community.

2 comments

  1. […] I think that broadly speaking, libraries have done a pretty sound job of reacting to the challenges of 2020. A number of them probably should have closed sooner for the safety of their staff, but in terms of adapting their services, rolling out online provision, and so on, people have done a good job being responsive to the fast-changing situation. Justin Hoenke in Wellington wrote very nicely about this. […]

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