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#OnTheRoadULC: Featuring Lexington Public Library // Two Librarians & A Microphone Podcast

Listen in as Lexington Public Library gives details on how to banish snow day boredom with fun, indoor activities that can be replicated by parents and library peers with ultimate ease.

Lexington Public Library in Kentucky doesn’t let a snow day stop them from getting the job done. When they identified snowy days as the perfect opportunity for fun instruction time, the team decided to create fun and engaging online content that could reach parents, no matter what digital platforms they preferred. Listen is as they discuss the online snow day learning activities they created for parents and guardians to replicate with their kiddos in the comfort of their own homes.

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Snow Day Fun LPL // LexLibrary YouTube


Jim Heuer [00:00:17] Hi everybody, this is Jim Heuer, the host of the Ingram Library Services Podcast, Two Librarians and a Microphone. I'm here with librarian number two, Donna George. We are excited to come to you live from the Urban Library Council Annual Forum in Baltimore, Maryland. Ingram Library Services is a proud sponsor of the Innovation Award that the ULC bestows upon their members. Today, we have librarians from the Lexington Public Library who have been awarded honorable mention in the education Birth Through Teens category for their snow day fun videos. With us, we have Jill and Doug, and the brainchild behind the videos, Kelly. Jill, you're going to tell us a little bit about the videos, how they came to be, and the reaction of the folks in Lexington.

Jill [00:01:08] Sure, well, the Lexington Public Library has several different channels that we use to share digital content. They're very popular. People really like that format. Kentucky isn't necessarily known for its snow days and its snowy weather. But, as we mentioned, Kelly's the brainchild. She had some really great, fun, educational games you can play, just using things around the house…that use a lot of important skills for early learners, for that Pre-K set. She and Doug worked together to come up with some really interesting, short, easy-to-understand videos that parents and caretakers could watch. Then they could play the games with their kids. They were using things like Post-It notes and soft toys. What was the one with the snow that you were making? That was really fun, the ingredients that you used there. Very creative.

Kelly [00:01:56] Who knew that three cups of baking soda and half a cup of hair conditioner could make snow? But those are things that you have normally in your house, things that most people would have in their house. If you combine them in the right way, you can bring the snow day inside and make snow that children can play with, build a little snow man indoors, enjoy the snow day, but not have to go out in the cold. It was fun.

Donna George [00:02:19] When I was reading about your story, it made me think of telemedicine and how that's all the rage now, to have a doctor, kind of on the TV, diagnosing you. I thought it was so clever that you guys thought to use this in this way where most libraries would think about live-streaming and social media for marketing purposes. I just love that you've used it in this non-traditional way. What has the community acceptance and feedback been about your videos?

Jill [00:02:46] We have a very popular YouTube channel. It's great that you mention that we like to use it in an educational way, because we actually have a couple of series. Doug was the brainchild behind another series, books and things that were being read and acted out, and some fun animations that we did in house. I don't know if you want to mention anything about that. The one that accompanied the caravan.

Donna George [00:03:06] Oh, with the "Story Time to Go"?

Jill [00:03:08] Yeah, the "Story Time to Go".

Doug [00:03:09] We had a delivery of story times. We had all this great information. We're giving it in training sessions and we just created a way to deliver it to anybody in day cares, parents, people who need this information. We can tend to give it to them individually. YouTube becomes a way for us to give it to them kind of en masse, reach a much larger audience.

Jill [00:03:33] People can watch it over and over again on their own time, on any device, whether it's your phone, or your tablet, or your computer. That's really helped us as far as the uptake. We like to think it's very accessible. It's on-demand. You can watch it on a snow day or you could watch it when it's 90 degrees outside and it's just too hot to go out.

Jim Heuer [00:03:51] Are you filming these in the library? Or you have a studio? Is it kind of ad-hoc?

Jill [00:03:57] That's a very great part of it. That's the part where we can share peer-to-peer. If you see it, it's really done in the hallway in front of an office door. It looks like it could be in your own home because when it comes to the game with the Post-It notes, you're just sticking them up on a wall or a doorway and then just using a soft toy to spell out different words. That's one I really liked myself. We wanted to show our peers that you can pick up your smartphone or your tablet, and you can just start shooting something like this. It's not flashy. It doesn't have fancy graphics, necessarily, or a lot of editing. It's just a way to share really good teaching content, really good lessons that you want to do with your children.

Jim Heuer [00:04:37] Are you getting feedback comments on the videos? Is that a feedback loop for you? Do you get to see what your patrons think of these videos?

Jill [00:04:45] That's a really great question. We use social media in a way as a really great survey evaluation. How popular is something? How much is it shared? Are people giving us a thumbs up? Are they telling us they like it? Are they requesting more? We're definitely very responsive to those comments when we get them.

Doug [00:05:04] We also had an interesting thing happen with the first time we shared the snow day videos. One of the local TV stations saw it and then shared it themselves. They had an even farther reach than we have on Twitter. You get the, literally, snowball effect to where people can…more people find out who aren't actually following you.

Jim Heuer [00:05:23] That's pretty good. Did you see about getting some SAG? Screen Actors Guild royalties off of that?

Kelly [00:05:29] Oh no, we're not quite Oscar ready yet. But maybe at some point.

Jim Heuer [00:05:34] You're giving them free content there over at the news in Lexington. Let's see, I just left Cleveland, where it was like 107 degrees. My kids actually didn't have school because of the heat. Maybe in Lexington, you might have some...

Doug [00:05:50] Heat day videos coming soon.

Jim Heuer [00:05:51] Heat day fun will be our next project, I suppose.

Kelly [00:05:54] We've actually made some early literacy videos that have to do with heat. There's all kinds of things you can do with pool noodles. We happen to have a park outside of our library and it has a water feature. We went out into the park and showed parents some different little pool noodle games that they could do to promote early literacy, to keep the kids outside.

Jim Heuer [00:06:12] That's fantastic. Who doesn't have a pool noodle? If you've got a couple of kids, everyone's got a pool noodle In their house, that's fantastic.

Jill [00:06:20] Talking about the reach, you know how Doug was saying Twitter…the news re-posted one of the snow day videos. One thing that's really great about this is it lets us reach folks who maybe have never set foot with their children in the library yet. Maybe it's a hook to get them in. If not, at least we're doing what we're supposed to be doing by helping to educate and share in providing that free content there. We share it across YouTube, but then we might also repost something on Facebook. We're talking about starting parents' groups, where they can share their own tips and details. Instagram. We re-package this information in a lot of different outlets. Then it can get picked up by other individuals or even other news outlets or organizations in our community.

Jim Heuer [00:07:02] How far does your community serve? Lexington is a major metropolitan area. But I'm familiar enough with Kentucky that if you drive not too far outside of Lexington, you can be somewhat in the country or farmland. Does your library reach that far? Is that part of your library district, as well?

Jill [00:07:21] That's a really great question. We actually are undergoing a facilities-use plan. Some data was just shared with us last week about how it's really surprising. I think it was a third, a third, and a third, perhaps, as far as the users go. There was a third of folks that commute into the city that use or have access to our services that aren't even necessarily residents of Fayette County. We have different policies that encourages it and allows that use. We have seven ring counties around us that we can have reciprocal relationships with. Those are always sort of evolving, but we have one stat from 2016 or 2017. It was 15 million individual touches, as far as, maybe not necessarily checking out a book, but 15 million different interfaces with the library as an organization, so we have a really big service area.

Jim Heuer [00:08:15] Wow. I'd imagine that then some of these videos getting out to some of the places that might really get affected by the snow, take them a little bit longer to clear snow than maybe downtown Lexington would. I could see how that would have a lot of application for many of your patrons.

Jill [00:08:35] Anyone who lives or works in Fayette County can have access to a library card, so we really are a regional hub. Do you have any other data that you want to…because you know the data better than me.

Doug [00:08:44] One thing I did want to say in terms of just speaking to libraries, wherever they might be. We're fortunate. We have a videographer. We have that sort of thing. But with this project, what you get, it's when you listen to Kelly talking about pool noodles and you realize what you can do with pool noodles. Librarians have what is really the hardest piece of this. That's just the idea of looking at your home and figuring out what you can be doing with your kid to make it educational. That's the starting point and we all have it. You don't have to worry about how much editing you can do. It's just a real simple process. It doesn't have to be pretty. It really can reach out to kids and have an impact. If you have kids, you know what the YouTube videos that most draw them aren't the ones that are most professionally made. So that's not really part of it. It's this idea of stock piling information that people like Kelly have.

Jim Heuer [00:09:37] My daughter watches videos by other 7-year-old kids. I can't understand it. But, thank you, thank you. This sounds like some really great stuff. I'm sure that the folks in Fayette County and in Lexington really enjoy this. We'll look for you when you go viral on your videos.

Jill [00:09:54] We'll see.

Kelly [00:09:54] Look for Kelly's face.

Jim Heuer [00:09:55] And congratulations, thank you very much.

Jill [00:09:57] Thank you.

Jim Heuer [00:09:59] Two Librarians and A Microphone is brought to you by Ingram Library Services, it is a division of Ingram Content Group. Our producer/director is Rachel Cope, sound engineering by Craig Simpson, special assistance by Essence Brisco, and Elizabeth Wilcox. The research done by our librarians, Trisha Bengel and Donna George. I'm Jim Heuer, thanks most of all to you for listening. Please follow us on Instagram at @thelibrarylife, tag us in your #thelibrarylife moments, because we've got some cool stuff going on, on that social media platform. We're going to be giving away some exclusive books, ARCs, perhaps a signed copy. In order to make sure you're staying tuned to this podcast, we'd love for you to go to our landing page, but most importantly, the best way you can show your support for us, is we'd love some reviews on Apple iTunes. If you can go on there and leave us a positive review, that would really help. Tell us what you'd like to hear. That might help us as we're thinking about some of the content we're trying to bring you. It's the best way you can support what we're doing, we're trying to bring you interesting, fun, compelling, thought-provoking content. We might see some of you at ULC in Baltimore. If so, we'll look forward to that. If not, then we'll see you in your libraries. Thanks everybody.