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Phillips and Dafoe provide NHPL summer program updates

Exciting things are happening at the North Hastings Public Library over the summer and beyond. Natalie Phillips, the events coordinator, and Emma Dafoe, their summer experience program student, discuss the great initiatives they have going at the NHPL through July and August and into the fall. These include; author Sharon Joffey’s booking reading on Instagram, Trivia Tuesdays, their new Indigenous book collection, their Virtual Yard Sale, the STEAM program, Bev’s Book Choice and the TD Summer Reading Club.

Author Sharon Joffey will be doing a reading and Q and A on Instagram at 10 a.m. on July 23 of her new book called “Madelyn’s Exciting Beach Adventure,” according to Dafoe. Joffey’s first children’s book, published early this year, is about a little girl’s day at the beach that prompts her to clean up her environment.

“She reached out to the library and it looked like a wonderful book, so we contacted her to see if she’d want to do a reading on Instagram and we worked it all out,” she says.

Phillips says that they usually get authors both contacting them or they contact the authors in question, to do a reading of their work.

“We’d like to continue with that, and we’d actually like to get some local authors too,” she says.

Any local authors that would like to do a reading and Q and A for their books should contact Phillips at the NHPL at [email protected]

Trivia Tuesdays, where a question is asked about a book and patrons are invited to answer it online, was initially started on Instagram by Dafoe, according to Phillips, and they got her to do it on Facebook as well.

Dafoe says she’s quite a reader, which helps out with coming up with the trivia questions.

“There’s a lot of readers in my family, so I’ll ask my siblings and I’ve been reading quite a bit myself,” she says.

Phillips says the Trivia Tuesdays have been doing very well.

“It’s more for engagement, to get our patrons engaged,” she says.

In addition to their usual Canada display for July, Phillips says the NHPL is also focusing on Indigenous books and authors, due in part to the horrifying discoveries that have occurred at residential schools across the country.

“It is there though. We do highlight the Indigenous authors and we have new reading material by them, especially for the children. A lot of new reading material. It’s to get Indigenous voices out there and to be heard. So, we really want to focus on resources for people to come in and feel comfortable to do any research and to learn more about their history. Whether its their culture or what happened at the residential schools. So, that’s basically what that is, to provide these resources to the community,” she says.

Dafoe mentions that in addition to physical copies, they have some of these books on Libby; the e-book platform the library uses.

The NHPL’s Virtual Yard Sale, where they show books for sale by video link online and patrons can choose what they like and pick them up and pay for them at the library afterward, was Phillips’ idea. It takes the place of the more conventional in-person book sales they had pre-COVID-19.

“I have it on Facebook, Instagram and on the Bancroft 24/7 sales group. I called it a yard sale because people on Saturday morning usually go to yard sales, so I thought call it a yard sale. We are going virtual and it’ll run into the fall. Now that we’ve opened our doors, people can come in, like today people bought some books. So, they saw the book sale online. So, we’ll continue with that because our books are building up and we need to get them sold. It helps with our donations for our programs. So that’s what that’s about,” she says.

Phillips mentions that the NHPL recently got a new green screen, to superimpose different backgrounds on videos and live feeds for variety when they do those for their social media channels.

Green screens, also called chroma key, allow people to superimpose a subject or subjects onto an unlimited number of different virtual backgrounds by singling out the green in the image or video and making it transparent so another image can be superimposed onto the background to replace the green screen.

“We’re learning to put the backgrounds in for live. We can do a video video but we want to have the backgrounds in place for live streams. So, when we do our live videos we’ll do a nice backdrop behind us, other than the room we’re in,” she says.

Dafoe says that she’s mostly there at NHPL this summer for the STEAM program, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.

“This month, we’re doing something called STEAM TV, so we’re going to do a video on July 24 focusing on one of the aspects of STEAM and coming up this Saturday, we have science. So, we’ll do themed videos every Saturday and talk about science, the resources we have here and what people can do at home,” she says.

Phillips says the STEAM program is geared toward younger people, but all ages can enjoy it. There are a lot of books, puzzles and other resources in a special section downstairs in the kids’ room at the NHPL and online for kids to learn from. She adds that the STEAM TV videos will run from July 24 until Aug. 28 and will be at 11 a.m.

Dafoe also reveals that they’ll be launching on YouTube very soon, and that’s where the STEAM TV will be broadcast from. Phillips says that next month’s them will be all about the STEAM project, and she’ll likely call it “STEAM ahead” or “Full STEAM ahead.”

“I haven’t decided yet, but it will be about the STEAM project,” she says.

Another great new addition for the kids, also related to STEAM, are two AWE learning centre computer stations located in the downstairs kids’ room.

“They can book sessions on them and it’s all learning stuff with respect to STEAM; coding, math, arts, etc. I think it’s awesome. They also have a new category for the kids; reading. It’s great fun and each category has its own games, puzzles and other activities to play. And now that we’re open, they can come in and use them,” she says.

Bev’s Book Choice is another project NHPL is doing online, and Phillips says that it is something they’ll be carrying on with and have every month.

“I thought it would be a great idea to do because Bev [Bev Creighton, the librarian and interlibrary loan officer] really knows her books. People can come to her for books requests all the time. So now, once a month, she can promote a book, or books that patrons might like. It’s also a great way to promote our library on social media,” she says.

Another great initiative the NHPL is participating in again is the TD Summer Reading Club, and Phillips says it’s an online event done yearly across Canada.

“We are one of the participating libraries. It’s for children 12 years of age and under. They can pick up their free registration kit at our library. It launched on June 15 and runs until Sept. 6,” she says.

There are more than 2,000 local public libraries that participate in this program, and according to the TD Summer Reading Club website, over 600,000 children took part in it in 2019.

The NHPL has a prominent display for the TD Summer Reading Club near their front desk with different coloured bags for each age group in the summer reading club. In addition to book bags for ages up to 12 years old, they also have accessible book bags with books with larger print for those who are visually impaired. Phillips says they came with the program.

“They made it more accessible for everyone. What I did, they only came with certain things, so I made it more presentable and I kind of added stuff to it, trying to get people’s attention. We’ve done pretty well; so far, out of 16 bags I’ve gotten rid of nine bags,” she says.

Phillips says that everything has gone virtual over the past 18 months with the pandemic, and that’s what the NHPL is leaning more towards, with their myriad of social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.

“It’s not going away. We can reach more people because even the author [Sharon Joffey] reached out to us through Instagram and she’s from the U.S., from Florida. So, that would never have happened if we were only having live in-house author readings. Anyone can access it, which is great,” she says. “It gets our name out there.”




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