When COVID-19 started shutting down libraries across the state, library staff had to scramble to figure out how to provide services to their communities. Stayton Public Library, located southeast of Salem in Stayton, Oregon, wanted to reach out to customers who were not online or had restricted web access.
After conversations with their staff and meetings with the state library, they decided to implement a Dial-a-Story program. Presentations by the Denver Public and Sterling Public Libraries in Colorado were instrumental to Stayton Public Library for understanding what is possible with Dial-a-Story and were great sources of tips and suggestions.
For a small monthly fee, the library was able to add a "message center" to their current service which allows up to ten people at a time to call in and hear the story. Adding a story to the message center is as easy as making a voicemail, however stories have to be less than five minutes long.
Given the challenges of the times, Stayton Public Library figured this would be something they could easily start for the Summer Reading Program and then transition to fall programming as well. Currently they change out their story weekly, and as they monitor interest they will likely begin to change it more frequently. Jennifer Gaetan, Library Assistant at Stayton Public Library, is enthusiastic about the program. “One of the really great things I love about this [program] is the opportunity for other staff in our library to participate in children's programming in a low key/low stakes manner,” she said.
Cook Memorial Library is another Oregon library that has implemented Dial-a-Story in response to Covid 19 library building shutdowns. Their program offers customers a menu with 9 different stories to choose from, including one or more stories in Spanish, and may also include a joke or two, a song, rhymes, poems, short stories, and more.
Jackson County Library began Dial-a-Story before COVID-19. They have been running their program for the past seven years. On their storytime webpage, they claim “it’s always storytime!” Library staff teamed up with the Medford area Storytelling Guild to implement the program. The Storytelling Guild does all of the scheduling and reading. They have a handful of readers and they change the story every 2 weeks. Some of the criteria for the stories include selecting stories that can be enjoyed without looking at the pictures, and making sure the selected stories are available in the library collection. Brystan Strong, the youth librarian at the Jackson County Library, is looking forward to adding a Spanish speaking line in the future.
You can check out these Dial-a-Story programs for yourself:
Stayton Public Library Dial-a-Story: 503-769-2408
Cook Memorial Library Dial-a-Story: 541-624-6339
Jackson County Library Services and the Storytelling Guild Dial-a-Story: 541-774-6439
Thank you to Jennifer Gaetan and Brystan Strong for sharing their stories. Let us know if your library is using Dial-a-Story.
Edited 8/13/2020: The Storyteller's Guild should be the The Storytelling Guild. Changed to correct name and linked to their website. TM
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