Lansing Library uses videos from community in virtual Preschool Storytime

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Lansing Library
The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)

Community is invited to submit videos for use in preschool program

By Katie Arvia

LANSING, Ill. (March 30, 2021) – Each month, the Lansing Public Library hosts a variety of virtual programming. These programs are geared towards varying age groups and interests, meaning there is always something for everyone. One recent example is Preschool Storytime. Taking place twice each month, Preschool Storytime is a virtual educational program that teaches kids age-appropriate skills while listening to stories, singing songs, and sometimes watching a video submitted by a member of the community.

Preschool Storytime adapts to pandemic

“Storytime allows [children] to practice their listening skills, endurance for sitting still and paying attention, fine and gross motor skills, literacy, comprehension, the way to hold a book or turn a page, and more,” said Jennifer DeGrauwe, Library Associate in the Youth Department. “Kids are always learning, so we need to keep changing things up to help them practice even more skills while having fun!”

At the beginning of the pandemic, Storytime was presented live. However, due to technical difficulties, internet access issues, and families who couldn’t commit to a specific time each week, the library decided to make Storytime a pre-recorded program instead. Publishers became more lenient with copyright restrictions during the pandemic, allowing the library to offer these pre-recorded events for an entire month on YouTube, rather than just once via Zoom. Additionally, the switch to pre-recorded allowed DeGrauwe and the staff more flexibility with content.

Videos from the community

Because many people are “virtualed-out,” DeGrauwe stressed the importance of making each Storytime interesting. In order to change things up each month, DeGrauwe is seeking help from the Lansing community. People who have a career or business in Lansing are invited to submit short, kid-friendly videos that could be included in Storytime.

“These short videos can be a tour, showing a uniform, explaining or showing your job, reading a book, doing an experiment, singing or dancing, making a craft, etcetera,” DeGrauwe said. These videos should be 5 minutes or less and people submitting do not need to be skilled at editing or video production.

DeGrauwe said she has already received many “awesome” submissions from people in and out of the library, including David Kostopoulos, the principal at Reavis Elementary School. DeGrauwe said that Kostopoulos is always willing to work with the library and the staff are very thankful for his passion for early literacy.

“He provided a video that he recorded at Abraham Lincoln’s old house in Springfield, Illinois,” DeGrauwe said of Kostopoulos. “Others have provided videos of science experiments, songs, crafts and Black History Month information. I am very grateful to everyone who has sent in videos so far.”

DeGrauwe said that having these “guest stars” appear in Storytime help make the videos so much better by adding their knowledge, skills, voices, and perspectives. To submit a video for Preschool Storytime, email [email protected].

“Lansing is a community that comes together when in need, and the library loves being a part of that. This past year has been very difficult, but this is a way we can show some of the normal Lansing experiences to an age group that might not even remember what that looks like. We can still inspire kids to learn, question, and grow. It just looks a little different than we are used to,” DeGrauwe said.

The next Preschool Storytime is scheduled for April 12, and viewer registration is available online.

Library programming

In addition to the twice-monthly Preschool Storytime, the Lansing Public Library hosts an abundance of events. For example, Grab & Go kits are available for kids to take home from the library. In March, the kit was the Seuss Birthday Party In-A-Bag that was full of fun things to do at home. DeGrauwe said that over 100 kits have been used, and this program will continue into April.

Additionally, DeGrauwe said that the library, especially the Youth Department, has a lot planned, especially for the summer. These events will look different from those in recent years as all of the programs will take place outside and registration will be required to maintain social distancing. Summer reading challenges will also be virtual this year.

The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Ave, Lansing, IL, and more information about events and programming is available on the Library’s website.

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