Library exploring, expanding digital programming
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Sioux Lookout Public Library (SLPL) has been working to re-adjust their services to reach patrons online through social media and other digital platforms.
SLPL Chief Librarian and CEO Mike Laverty said the library released and started a new online schedule last week that provides patrons with consistent digital content on a weekly basis.
“I was just trying to think of a way to focus our efforts at the library, and I thought the best way to do that for staff and for the public was to have a set routine. Instead of spacing events out over the course of the month, I would essentially just do the same week over again, so it’s the same kind of format every week but it changes,” Laverty shared.
Laverty broke down the schedule and provided details on what residents can expect, in terms of content, on each day, which includes contests and challenges, online courses, story time, and a community podcast.
“On Mondays we will release some kind of challenge to the community, so we’re going to keep that as fun and interesting as we can so we’re not trying to tie it down with too specific of a definition. It’ll be some kind of challenge… Most of it will be about Sioux Lookout and I’ll try to keep it regional,” he said.
“On Tuesdays I’ll be doing a course of some kind, so we’re starting with a Microsoft Office course because I’ve done this a few times where I ask the community what kind of course they want offered, and I think that courses like Microsoft Office, how to use computers, and technology 101 always comes up. That typically happens when we do community surveys… People can watch it whenever they can. They don’t have to watch it live, and they can also participate whenever they want to. There are no set deadlines. All you do is watch the video, I give you a homework assignment, and then you complete the assignment and send me an email. Just like a college instructor would do, I look at it, I give you feedback, I teach you what I know, and I try to help you become a better writer by doing that. The first one’s all about Microsoft Word. It’s the nuts and bolts of using Microsoft Word, like how to open a document and click on stuff, but we’re also tackling bigger issues like writing, editing, how to plan out a project, and how to take that project through various phases. It’s very hands on… We’re going to walk through Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher.
“On Wednesdays we’re going to be doing story time. I have my ten-year-old son working the editing console for me, so he can see the stream, he can see the YouTube comments, and he can signal me if someone’s asking a question… Officially our first one will be on May 20 (today). We’re going to make a Facebook event, so people can join the event and get a reminder.
“On Thursdays I want to do a community podcast. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of doing at the library for years. There used to be a community radio station in Sioux… I’d like to do some kind of a podcast where I find a guest, someone in the community, I can talk to and do an interview with them… The idea is on Thursdays I will do an interview with someone. It’ll just be around 20 minutes, and we’ll find someone in the community to do a distance interview with.
“On Fridays we’ll do some kind of an update to the community, so on Fridays I’ll just do a quick livestream from my phone, do like a video blog, give people an update, share what’s happening, and share what our plans are. We’ll have contests, so on Fridays that’s when I’ll release the names of the winners… The whole concept is every day of the week, every week day, the library will do one specific thing and it will always be released on that day,” Laverty explained.
Eventually, Laverty said he hopes to provide a musical aspect to their online content as well. One idea he has in mind is starting an introduction to guitar lesson to help residents who might have a dusty guitar lying around.
“I’d like to do a musical component to, so I might do an intro to guitar. It’s something a few people have asked us to do. A lot of people have an old guitar kicking around their house that they’ve either bought or never actually learned how to play, so it would be doing a very specific lesson on how to get started… I’ll show people how to clean it up, put a new pair of strings on it, tune that thing up, and just get started. That could be for kids too. It won’t just be for adults,” he said.
Laverty confirmed he plans on trialling the online schedule for at least a month. He said he’s very open to receiving feedback from the community when it comes to content ideas and suggestions, and his goal is to keep the content Sioux Lookout specific.
“We do have a lot of (digital) capacity, it’s just always been a struggle to find ways to truly take advantage of it. One of the main things I’m really stressing here is that I’ve created this week of programming and schedule, so at this point I’m committed to that idea and I want to try it out for at least a month. What I want to emphasis is that, with the content that fits into those slots, I want it to come from the community as much as possible. Every story time I do, every guest I interview for a podcast, everything we talk about on the channel, and everything we’re pushing out I want it to come directly from people living in Sioux Lookout… People can get through to me or send feedback to my direct email: email@example.com or my phone number: 737-3660 extension 4401,” he said.
“Even though we’re closed my board members, who are the core of our organization, are nine volunteers who give a lot of time to the organization, so they continue to be active. We’ve reduced the staff working at the library in response to the closure, so we’ve had to issue lay-offs. We’re down to a minimum of staff members, so we’re trying to do as much as we can with the amount of resources we have. We’re hoping for people to be patient as we figure things out because I think that’s what we’re doing, and the library isn’t alone in that we’re trying to find a way to operate right now. This is totally unprecedented… For several weeks now the library has been doing a lot behind the scenes planning and trying to figure things out technology wise…We’re trying to adapt, and we’re trying to get by every day we can,” he concluded.
To stay up to date on the SLPL, and to check out their weekly content, visit their Facebook page @SiouxLookoutPublicLibrary or go to slpl.on.ca.