Vernon Youth Services Librarian Stephanie Thoresn has been reading books to toddlers virtually through the Okanagan Regional Library’s YouTube channel. (YouTube screenshot)

Vernon Youth Services Librarian Stephanie Thoresn has been reading books to toddlers virtually through the Okanagan Regional Library’s YouTube channel. (YouTube screenshot)

Visit the Okanagan library without leaving home

Online services expanded as branches remain closed

Peter Critchley

Special to The Morning Star

Kids and teens can visit the library without ever leaving home.

The Okanagan Regional Library offers kids and teens a broad array of virtual resources, including virtual story times delivered by youth services librarians, such as Salmon Arm Youth Services Librarian Ardie Burnham, and assistants at Kelowna, Salmon Arm and Vernon library branches.

The Salmon Arm youth services librarian immediately began to explore how to continue programming for kids when the ORL shut down in mid-March. Initially, she thought the library could possibly use recorded programs – it would be better than nothing at all. But Burnham, thanks to a virtual meeting she attended with friends, immediately considered the possibility of virtual programming.

“I was invited to a Zoom meeting with friends and that’s when I discovered that virtual, live programs might be a possibility,” said Burnham.

“I worried the program would not be as good as a real life connection but I felt it was important to continue to provide programs that helped build early preliteracy skills. When I saw the faces of my story time families, it was almost as good as seeing them in person.”

She also found that virtual technology actually makes it easier to record stories and songs without an audience present.

Story time programming, and other virtual programs, are recorded and available through two Youtube channels the ORL created. Other virtual programs include Picture Book Read-A-Louds created and presented by Vernon Youth Services Librarian Stephanie Thoreson and Songs and Rhymes by Youth Collections Librarian Ashley Machum.

“Providing fun ways to learn is even more important in this difficult time for families,” said Thoreson.

“We have been working on our own e-resources, creating challenges for kids to do at home and searching the internet for links to share. Story time is always good for pre-literacy skills and promotes a love of reading. Now it also serves to help children feel connected and have a sense of normalcy by seeing the staff from their local libraries keeping up their routines.”

Children can attend live virtual Story Times with library staff on Zoom. The schedule is available at http://orl.evanced.info/signup/Calendar. The next Virtual Toddler Time is May 21 at 10 a.m. Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) activities are also available at http://www.orl.bc.ca/kids-teens/steam.

Another terrific online resource for the entire family is Family Fun. This resource is updated weekly and includes links to enjoyable activities delivered by authors and artists. It is designed to support families by providing a one-stop shop for activities with a literacy focus and can be accessed at https://www.orl.bc.ca/kids-teens/parents-teachers/family-fun.

Parents and kids can also explore and download hundreds of free at-home printable activity, instruction and crafting sheets at Built to Build Young Minds. The different categories include colouring sheets, connect te dots, letter-number practice, spot the difference and writing practice. This resource is frequently updated and available at libraryplus.ca.

“This is all built to help you and your little ones make the most of the stay-at-home days,” said ORL Communications Director Michal Utko.

The ORL offers free access to several different online resources for kids and teens. Tumblebooks Collections is a collection of digital books, without any downloads or waitlists. You can play these books on your browser over an internet connection.

If you are on a computer all you need is to have Flash Player installed. Most of the books in these collections mobile compatible and can be read on a smartphone or tablet.

TumbleBook Library for Kids contains animated, talking picture books. There are both fiction and nonfiction titles in English, as well as French and Spanish. This resource also includes puzzles, games and videos.

TumbleBookCloud Junior features read-along books and graphic novels with narration and sentence highlighting, eBooks, eAudiobooks and short educational videos. This resource is for elementary school-aged readers.

TumbleMath is a great learn resource for parents of children in kindergarten to grade six. It is a collection of math picture books that can be read online in a browser, complete with animation and narration. The books also include additional material, such as lesson plans and quizzes, and this resource is available until Aug. 31.

ORL eBooks for Kids showcases all of the digital children’s books from the main ORL e-book collection. It includes an eReading Room to make it easier for kids to find just what they wish to read among hundreds of downloadable e-books and e-audio books. You can learn how to borrow digital books from the ORL ebooks collection.

RB Digital offers free e-audiobook access to your favourite stores. The best part of this collection is that most of the e-audiobooks are always available to borrow. There are not any wait lists.

This resource features a small e-book collection of classic literature to enjoy. It is possible to search for these titles, and all of the e-audiobook titles, through RB Digital’s advanced search option to browse for books by audience, beginning reader or children. You can learn how to borrow the titles from RB Digital.

The ORL offers children free access to Britannica Library for Children. This resource provides age-appropriate articles in a variety of subjects, including neat features like Canada in Focus and an interactive world atlas.

Global Warrior, a comprehensive online travel resource, is another terrific resource for students, especially those researching information about other countries. It is packed with colour photos, over 1,000 country maps and basic information on culture, customs and travel essentials for 175 nations.

All of these online resources can be found at https://www.orl.bc.ca/elibrary/online-resources. A library card, or pass, is all you need to access all the ORL online resources. And if you do not have a card, you can get one for free at https://www.orl.bc.ca/using-the-library/E-card-station.

Parents wishing to start homeschooling can access the necessary resources through the provincial education ministry at https://www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning/ as well as through the ORL at https://www.orl.bc.ca/kids-teens/parents-teachers/homeschooling-help.

Overall, the ORL offers parents and kids alike comprehensive online resources, including virtual Story Time, to help them at home during the present pandemic and perhaps even beyond.

“I hope our new methods of sharing Story Time and other events will help us reach new audiences too, who might have struggled to physically get to the library,” said Thoreson.

If you have any questions about these programs, or any other questions, library staff can be contacted at help@orl.bc.ca and you can chat with them at our website 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, & Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday & Thursday. Staff can also be contacted by telephone at 1-844-649-8127 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Peter Critchley is with the Okanagan Regional Library, Vernon branch

READ MORE: Vernon library keeps shelter occupants connected

READ MORE: Okanagan libraries still open for business, online


@VernonNews
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