Library staff have used innovative approaches to continue providing online resources and group sessions during the pandemic, including rhyme times, story times, tea and chat sessions, book reviews, author talks and 'how to' guides.
In the first lockdown, Conservative led Wiltshire Council libraries moved many of their activities online, and this popular content on the library Facebook pages and the Wiltshire Libraries YouTube channel has now received over 200,000 views.
The pandemic caused libraries to either remain closed or be open with limited services throughout the last 16 months, and the teams have had to get creative with innovative ways to still deliver content via Facebook and YouTube. Since libraries reopened staff have continued to provide online rhyme times, story times, tea and chat sessions, book reviews, author talks and 'how to' guides.
One customer shared their thoughts on Trowbridge Library's Facebook page:
I want to send my thanks for all the staff broadcasting from their homes keeping the library community alive. You are all epic superstars.
The live Facebook rhyme times have proved to be particularly popular, with the first rhyme time broadcast on Friday 27 March 2020 receiving 265 live views. It has since been viewed 4,500 times. As the months went by, the rhyme times came to be particularly valued by new parents whose children were missing out on many new experiences, as this comment on a Melksham Library rhyme time in June 2021 shows:
My girls really enjoyed the session thank you. It was especially good for my 18 month old as she hasn't really been anywhere due to lockdowns etc.
Meanwhile, fortnightly Reading Friends tea and chat sessions have helped to tackle loneliness and encourage mindfulness through shared reading. One regular viewer commented:
I have my cuppa and you have helped calm my very busy mind...Loved listening today. It's the highlight of my Tuesday.
Conservative Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling, Cabinet Member for Libraries, said:
It's a great achievement for our library teams to see just how popular their online content has been and continues to be, reaching this milestone of 200,000 views.
This valuable online content has been helping to support people to overcome loneliness and improve their mental health by giving them a sense of community and involvement during the pandemic. I would like to say a huge thank you to our library staff for their dedication and commitment to overcome these barriers and for continuing to support customers to access these sessions and providing such a variety of resources throughout the pandemic.
Most Wiltshire Council libraries are now open and information about visiting them can be found at Libraries news.
Over the summer, Wiltshire libraries are providing Facebook live rhyme times twice a week at 11am and fortnightly Reading Friends tea and chat sessions on Tuesdays at 3pm. To find out more, people can visit Active Communities resources. Library teams are also delivering the Summer Reading Challenge in libraries until Saturday 4 September. Children aged 4 to 11 years old can sign up to the challenge to read six or more books during the holidays and receive rewards along the way. Information about the Summer Reading Challenge can be found at Summer Reading Challenge. There is limited availability so families are urged to join up while stocks last.
Rhyme times, tea and chat sessions, guides for getting started with library online resources, bedtime stories, author talks and craft activities can be found on the Wiltshire Libraries Youtube.