The Bruce C. Clarke Library may be temporarily closed, but that doesn’t mean the staff’s love of reading is stifled. They have adapted some of their normally scheduled programs, and one of the results is Story Time online.
Their Virtual Story Time videos are posted every Thursday through the Fort Leonard Wood Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/mwr.ftwood/ – where library staff read two stories to viewers and include contests in between.
Tyffany Hollenbeck, children’s library technician, leads the youth group activity from a custom set-up she built at home. She said it serves as both a morale booster and a way to keep young minds sharp.
“Virtual Story Time is a great way to entertain children and keep their minds active,” she said. “There are also the added benefits of having access to books that viewers may not have; having more books when viewers have run out; enjoying a contest that promotes creative thinking; helping keep children entertained while parents are trying to telework; and promoting involvement in the community.”
In the intermissions between stories, she holds naming competitions for her stuffed animals.
“I choose one of my stuffed friends, introduce them with a quirky bio, and ask the viewers to post name suggestions below the video,” she said.
Winners are chosen the following week, and they receive prize coupons to be redeemed upon the library’s reopening.
She handpicks all the stories, and she said she planned on having an extended absence from the library.
“I searched our catalog for all the … children’s books in the library, chose a bunch of fun ones, and brought home enough to get me through May,” Hollenbeck said. “I also have some short stories that were sent to me directly from the author.”
But she didn’t set up Virtual Story Time without a little help. Hollenbeck’s husband, Spc. David Hollenbeck, 399th Army Band, said he serves as creative assistant and multimedia editor for the videos.
“It was my idea to give the stuffed animals a personality,” he said. “Tyffany came up with the contest and bounced the idea off of me where I expanded upon the idea to give them fun (biographies) to help stimulate name ideas for the viewers.”
She said she wanted to keep Story Time going – albeit through a virtual medium – because of how it brings the community together.
“Many military families create a community surrounding the events their children attend,” she said. “Story Time was a place that kids saw their best friends and developed socializing skills, and parents could create play dates, get parental advice, and create their own community.”
Her husband agreed.
“In this time of social distancing it is important for kids to hear a familiar friendly voice to let them know they haven’t been forgotten,” he said.