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Caring for Our Community

Virtual Programs

Following the library locations’ closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Durham County Library began creating and sharing virtual programs to keep the community connected while our physical doors were closed. We began posting pre-recorded virtual programs on our YouTube channel in April 2020 and started hosting live programs through Zoom soon after. While the physical separation created by the pandemic presented many challenges, the library was honored to continue our valuable work of connecting the community and staff in an online space.

Our pre-recorded programming categories include the LSTA-funded* Art Through the Senses (limited series now complete), Toddler Tuesday, Totally Teens Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Biweekly Bilingual Thursday, and Adult Thursday. Between April and August 2020, we offered 17 pre-recorded programs with 13,500 views. These YouTube video programs featured storytimes for young children, book and poetry discussions for teens, crafting and language-learning videos for bilingual and language-learners of all ages, cooking and tech tutorials for adults, and so much more!

The library was happy to expand our program offerings to include live programming through Zoom in May 2020. These live programs provide much-needed direct communication and socialization that has become limited in physically distanced times. Between May and August, we offered 95 live programs on Zoom with a total attendance over 5,000. Live programs have ranged from live-play Dungeons and Dragons sessions to book clubs to afterschool learning-sessions for students.

Virtual programming allows the library to continue to provide the community with vital resources and friendly faces in this time of physical distancing. Tammy Baggett-Best, Library Director, said that “staff have been working diligently to provide traditional programs in a virtual format … We strive to make the virtual program experience informative, educational, and entertaining.” Through these live and pre-recorded programs, the library endeavors to achieve our mission of connecting the community while adapting to the challenges of the pandemic.

* Art Through the Senses was made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-00-19-0034-19).

Monica Belford, Hispanic Services Coordinator

“I have been modifying bilingual programs and ESL classes to try to provide entertaining and educational services in a whole new way. Some programs include teens and Duke students volunteering to read and help kids online; adults participating in ESL classes and language exchange pairings virtually; kids listening, drawing, and playing bilingual games via virtual platforms (with prizes and activity packs delivered to their front doors weekly); ASL classes in English and Spanish; and more!”

John Davis, Adult Services Librarian, Main Library

“I’m really lucky that one of my major in-person programs (Dungeons & Dragons @ the Library) could be translated so smoothly into a real-time virtual event. It required a huge amount of up-front work to digitize materials, and I’m still learning the twists and turns of some of the platforms that make it possible to play with people online, but it’s been so gratifying to be able to reconnect with the community of players and storytellers I’ve built running these programs over the past seven years.”

Arwen Downs, Senior Library Assistant, Main Library

“Creating virtual programming has been an adventure in discovering activities that require an online platform, rather than simply adapting what I would do in-person. The freedom of recording allows me to do projects that take days to yield results (and nix the ones that fail), as well as have more fun with presentation, knowing a redo is always an option.”

Chastity Stanfield, Children’s Librarian, Main Library

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to create virtual programs. I have been enjoying sharing my stories and fun songs with children who are not only from the Durham area and can enjoy the online storytimes and sing-alongs. Virtual programming opens our programs to an even wider audience because there are children, teens, and adults who are homebound and would love to visit our libraries but cannot due to health concerns or other circumstances that have them homebound. I am all about the kids and patrons feeling like the library is the center of the community with no separation of race, religion, disability, or sex that would prevent them from feeling welcome at the library.”