CULC/CBUC Toolkit on Recovery & Reimagined Public Library Services Post COVID-19


Stories from the Field

Programming Inside the Library

The Quick Pivot to Digital

Most libraries surveyed had moved to offering at least some programming online. Most common were family storytimes, either delivered live via Zoom or Facebook/Instagram, or prerecorded and broadcast via YouTube, Facetime, library websites, etc.

For Children & Families

For Adults

  • Innovative ways of offering Book Clubs include Burlington Reads @ Home for an online community read invites participation via social media and provides related links for further exploration and featured Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice in conjunction with Hamilton Reads Book Club Online or people in Edmonton can enjoy EPL From Home Digital Book Club via Twitter
  • Calgary Public Library had 140 people attend a Zoom version of their popular Think Big program series, featuring Jay Ingram and experts from the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute
  • Coquitlam Public Library is offering Coping with COVID-19 programs held via Zoom in various languages (e.g. Mandarin)
  • Guelph Public Library is using online jigsaw puzzle software to promote their e-resources available
  • Hamilton Public Library is offering a Film Forum Online to discuss films from Kanopy via Microsoft Teams
  • Kitchener Public Library is partnering with their local YMCA to provide employment support through virtual Effective Resume programming via Zoom
  • Vancouver Public Library offered a fulsome suite of online Indigenous Storyteller in Residence programming, including a film screening, and online storytelling and discussion sessions
  • Windsor Symphony Orchestra paired up with Windsor Public Library for a Read-Aloud with the WSO program is part of the #WSOatHome programming for all those in quarantine and self-isolation

Newcomer Programs

  • Surrey Public Libraries offer a variety of online programs for newcomers, including English and Citizenship classes as well as employment support through foreign credential recognition, immigrant entrepreneurship, and career paths for skilled immigrants
  • Various BC libraries including Surrey Libraries, Richmond Public Library, Coquitlam/Port Moody Public are offering online training for the Library Champions Project for newcomers interested in volunteering in the community to share information about library and settlement resources with other newcomers
  • Halifax Public Libraries, Hamilton Public Library and Calgary Public Library are offering Newcomer Conversation group sessions on Zoom, using break-out groups for volunteers and participants

Tech & Analog Came Together

  • London Public Library is offering Project Help for Elementary & Secondary Students via telephone
  • Oakville Public Library delivers Stories by Phone – “…enjoy pre-recorded stories, any time of day. We are offering three different pre-recorded story options in English: poems and short stories for adults, stories for younger children (age 7 and under) and adult fiction (one chapter a week). Hamilton Public Library is also offering Story Break where staff read stories by phone one week and participants can join in a group phone chat the following to discuss. Toronto Public Library also offers Dial-A-Story for children 12 and under, available in 16 languages.
  • Vancouver Island Regional Library posted colouring sheets on their Facebook page for people to print
  • Halifax Public Libraries posted cooking tutorials recorded in library staff members’ kitchens
  • London Public Library is offering Book a Librarian services via email or phone
  • Wood Buffalo Regional Library posted exercise videos filmed by a library staff member in her house

Programming Outside the Library

The Quick Pivot to Digital

Most libraries surveyed had moved to offering at least some programming online. Most common were family storytimes, either delivered live via Zoom or Facebook/Instagram, or prerecorded and broadcast via YouTube, Facetime, library websites, etc. with partners.

Outreach & Community Engagement

While most traditional outreach stopped during the pandemic, some libraries worked to find new ways to connect with their communities.

  • Nine Toronto Public Library locations became food distribution centres, in partnership with local food banks
  • Hamilton Public Library features Noon Hour Concerts Online for performances of local artists
  • Windsor Public Library launched its Bookmobile On Demand, where patrons could contact the library to request items be delivered to their home
  • In Montreal, the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec opened the Grande Bibliothèque during the day to people experiencing homelessness
  • Calgary Public Library worked with social workers at The City of Calgary to distribute Chromebooks usually used by members in community libraries to partner agencies across the city, including newcomer agencies, students, Indigenous organizations, etc.
  • As per the CBC, Halifax Public Libraries “is distributing” take home snacks and activities for kids through six community partners such as food centres (activity packages for adults will be coming soon too). “Food insecurity is a significant concern in our communities, especially during this time,” says Kasia Morrison, Communications Officer at Halifax Public Libraries. “In one week we provided 1,171 snack packs and 743 activity packs.”
  • Saskatoon Public Library made Outreach Workers available by phone for referrals
  • Greater Victoria Public Library is promoting an online storytime feature initiated by one of the Victoria City Councillors via YouTube called 8 O’Clock Storybook Reading featuring local elected officials and celebrities
  • Brampton Library staff are using the Library’s 3D printers to make protective face shields for health care workers
  • Kingston Frontenac Public Library developed a StoryMe: COVID-19 Edition project to collect written stories, videos, digital photographs and audio recordings of people’s experience during the pandemic
  • Powell River Public Library has created a pick-up-and-go package for a physical distancing version of summer reading club – Mission Remote Summer Reading Club 2020: Explore Our Universe!
  • Salt Spring Public Library has expanded their Visiting Library Service drop-off of items outside people’s homes to include seniors who cannot access e-resources
  • Salt Spring Public Library is incorporating social distancing measures to offer an outdoor StoryWalk program at a local park on Salt Spring Island
  • Bowen Island Public Library continues to offer the loan of medical equipment as part of their Med Shed service while the library is closed
  • North Vancouver District Public Library is offering Library Takeout @NVDPL to allow for holds pick-up, as well as curated picks with a pickup time co-ordinated by staff.