Library staff are hoping to play a part in helping parents both uphold and create a new routine for children as concerns over COVID-19 continue.
Susan Perry picks up her ukulele and sings the "hello" song alongside Erica Davis, marking the beginning of yet another storytime at the Daytona Beach Regional Library.
Only this time, instead of welcoming a room full of energetic children, they're looking straight into an iPad.
From now until the coronavirus pandemic ceases, Volusia County's library system will be offering storytimes streamed live every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10:30 a.m. on the Volusia County Public Library Facebook page. The storytimes last about 20 minutes, during which library staff read a couple books and include short games and mini-skits encouraging the development of vocabulary and motor skills. On Thursday, March 26, the storytime's theme was "Sweet on Stories," and Perry, a children's librarian, put on a puppet show for the kids, one she had written the day before.
“We’re just glad we got to do this for the children," Perry said.
Library Project Manager Karen Poulsen said they had considered doing livestreamed bedtime stories before COVID-19, and when the county closed libraries to the public, it was an easy transition to make storytime sessions continue. Many libraries around the U.S. are doing it too, she said.
“Our staff has really embraced this," Poulsen said. "They just jumped right on it. They didn’t skip a beat.”
And while children have a slew of material to watch online nowadays, Poulsen said this gives them the opportunity to see familiar faces and hear songs they know well. It's a source of comfort, she said.
Davis, Daytona's launch pad librarian, said it was strange to have adults sitting in the room, rather than the kids. However, she said this service helps parents retain a part of their pre-COVID-19 routines — for those whose children attended regularly — or begin a new routine at this time.
“This is what kids need — they need the storytime, especially when they don’t have school right now too," Davis said.
Perry misses her kids. She's known a few of the "regulars" since they were two or three years old.
“I know this isn’t forever," Perry said. "We’re all looking forward to getting back to normal one of these days.”
Volusia County's libraries are also offering curbside service. Book bundles for parents who are unsure of what to check out for their kids are also available. Call your local library for more information, or visit volusialibrary.org