Facilitating library programs at a distance

Below are a few inspirational examples that I really like for facilitating activities virtually. Do you have other ideas for running programming at a distance? Have you tried any of these ideas out with your patrons? I’d love to hear about it!

Livestream a make-along

I love the Scratch team’s Create-Along’s, one-hour live-streamed sessions that engage with participants of all ages and experience levels.

Inspire your patrons with short videos

One of our PLIX community members, Blayne (@bborden) from Lexington Public Library, published a video of her sensory nature walk (an activity from the PLIX Urban Ecology series :seedling: on Facebook, encouraging others to do the same safely in their neighborhood or backyard.


We’ve offered a lot of neat programming (I can’t take credit for them!) but what most excites me are opportunities that provide social interactions since that is so tricky these days. Yesterday I ran the first of a virtual STEAM Story Time programs for children. We’ll be starting a 2D/3D design series for middle school patrons next month with the hopes that we’ll eventually produce (print, vinyl cut, etc.) their creations for pick-up.


This is awesome, @bborden! I’ve been wanting to do the PLIX Urban Ecology program at my library and I’m definitely going to make a video similar to yours (in the field) as part of the distance facilitation. I really like your fun way for collecting artifacts on your wrist with a backwards-tape wristband! :slight_smile:

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A post was split to a new topic: Using FlipGrid for facilitating at a distance

I’d love to hear more about how you are developing a 2D/3D design program. I have a space with a Silhouette Cameo, laser cutter, and 3D printer. I (used to) have a Wednesday afterschool program for middle schoolers and they would come in and learn on the fly, which was chaotic and fun but really too popular. I couldn’t handle everyone on my own and didn’t have any help. So we started offering trainings that kids had to sign up for instead and my numbers went WAY down. The training workshops were fun and easy, but no one wanted to do them. Kids didn’t want to do more school AFTER school, they wanted to have fun and make stuff. So I’m struggling with the middle ground.

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Thanks, Dave! It was a fun video to make :slight_smile: The duct tape wristlet was a coworker’s suggestion.

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I agree that spontaneous discovery has taken a hit during this pandemic. I would like to hear more about this as well.


I wanted to share this recent panel of makers and designers of creative educational kits hosted by Makezine. This pandemic has many of us putting together more take-and-make projects and creative STEAM kits to engage our library patrons remotely. And I find a lot of the ideas discussed in this panel to be important things for me to keep in mind as I assemble materials and project examples for creative STEAM kits like paper circuits and microbits. Also, some of the ideas are similar to what was mentioned in the PLIX CubeSat workshops over the past 3 weeks.
A few of my favorite points from the discussion:

“Especially more recently, one thing that I love about play is it’s this period where you feel safe enough to go and just do stuff. When you’re playing, you’re in your little safe bubble where you can explore. Maybe toolkits are like spaces for us to create little ‘microworlds,’ not just for learning but for feeling safe and good enough to play.” (Jie Qi, Chibitronics)

Successful kit= the challenge can scale to the user
“Kids choosing their own level of challenge that is appropriate for them is a part of what makes play successful.” (Lance Akiyama, Science Curriculum Developer for Galileo Learning)


Hey everyone, thanks so much for your conversation in this thread! Just wanted to share that we ended up turning these ideas into a blog post. You can read some more thoughts/ideas on our website. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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Before the Lockdown I used to run in-person classes every Wednesday and Thursday night for 10 adults at a time. I’d provide the supplies, tools, a handout with the steps, and generally be on hand for troubleshooting.
During the Lockdown I’ve had to drop a number of the classes because I can’t put many of my tools out for people to take. However, I can still put out grab-and-go kits with the supplies and a handout every week. I run a class at our usual Wednesday night time to walk people though the basics of the craft and answer questions. patrons sign up for the class ahead of time on Eventbrite and I can email them a supply list and handout ahead of time as well in case they can’t make it into the library before class starts.


I’m planning my Inflatables workshop with short videos (watch and make)- that way library patrons who can’t make it to a livestream will be able to access it anytime.

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As we’re coming back to in-person programming, but still have some challenges in delivering programming (distance, masking, etc.) don’t forget about voice amplifiers. My library has purchased one voice amplifier (Zoweetek voice amplifier) for each librarian who provides in-person programming. I’ve used mine for storytime, and book club thus far. It allows me to speak at a normal level, but have heightened amplification, and adds clarity to any muffling my mask might provide. It’s super useful in louder environments, and around those with hearing challenges.

Tip: Wear it around your neck instead of as a headband (which is advertised) as it will stay in place and allow you to move around a little better.

Thanks for sharing! I’ve been meaning to add this to my shopping list :smiley:

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Since our library has suspended all in-person programming for at least the month of January, I need to ramp up my virtual offerings. Trying to decide the best way to start. I think Urban Ecology could be an easy entry. I like the idea of short videos to get patrons engaged and encourage them to try things on their own.
I also want to look at doing some quick scratch videos where I show how to use a certain function. Scratch is a great tool for kids to use who are stuck at home, or need a more flexible creative outlet when school has become so weird and stressful.
STEAM storytimes are very intriguing too. Any suggestions of ways to get started are much appreciated!

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#STEAMresources I haven’t yet completed my passive project instructions for quilts, but I am working on putting together a short list of examples of resources libraries can use to buff up their STEAM learning during this time when distance learning is the primary avenue. I am working on this list to give background for a proposal to my library admin, as a taste of what is out there, since we all know there is an entire universe of resources…

I just started this list and if you have anything you think would be a great addition, please let me know.

Internal​ to our library:

  • Studios and Studio Guides​
  • Family Learning Centers and Supplybrary​
  • Library YoutTube channels​
  • Green Team​
  • STEAM book collections, magazines​
  • Tech to go and Library Chromebooks​

External​ Resources:


Hope you all are staying warm! And thanks for any help you can provide! :robot: