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EPL’s Storytime Station Rhyme Videos

Edmonton Public Library
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Innovation Summary

EPL has created a series of animated videos, which provide engaging and valuable online early literacy experiences to viewers in the community when, where and how they want them. These videos support the five behaviors of early literacy and model best practices for parents and caregivers, while entertaining families.

Innovation Leader: Laura Young and Susan Mikytyshyn, Early Literacy and Family Services Team Co-chairs, lyoung@epl.ca

Problem Statement

The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) is widely known for its Read.Talk.Play. initiative which features high-value early literacy resources and experiences at sixteen of its locations. However, not all members of the community are able to take advantage of these traditional offerings. Visiting EPL’s physical locations is not always possible for those caring for young children; barriers can include transportation, hours of operation, awareness of the library, mobility, and familiarity with the library’s early literacy programs, among others. Offering the Storytime Station videos online is one method to overcome these barriers, as well as to support those community members who want supplemental early literacy services from EPL in addition to the in-person programs and tangible resources. Parents and caregivers regularly request that library staff teach them rhymes and songs to help engage and entertain their children, especially at the toddler and preschooler ages. Caregivers rely on these proven-effective tools to delight children, teach them language and literacy skills, and encourage appropriate behavior. For parents and caregivers who are unable to attend the children’s programs at EPL, the Storytime Station videos provide rhymes and songs on-demand using computers, tablets, mobile phones, and other electronic devices. In these videos, EPL staff model best practices in early literacy skills development for parents and caregivers, while entertaining children and reinforcing the five behaviors of early literacy. The five behaviors of early literacy, as identified by the Public Library Association’s (PLA) and the Association for Library Service to Children’s (ALSC) Every Child Ready to Read® program, include talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. EPL incorporates these behaviors into its programming and materials for young children, and the Storytime Station videos particularly emphasize the benefits of singing, talking, and playing with children by performing these on camera and modeling the techniques to caregivers.

Innovation

To ensure that toddlers and preschoolers view these videos and derive the inherent early literacy benefits, EPL developed the videos using an appealing and engaging visual approach. The use of motion graphics in these videos helps to demonstrate the various characters and elements featured within the rhymes and songs. Using bright and colorful illustrations superimposed onto the film of EPL staff performing traditional rhymes adds more visual interest for viewers, and enhances the finger movements, body actions, and vocal performance techniques used by the performers. The animated elements in the videos are made up of cutouts of various organic materials, such as paper, cardboard, fabric, etc., to add to the dimension of the artboard background while alluding to the materials used in some traditional, in-person library activities. The use of a keyframing animation technique allows the graphic elements to seamlessly flow and interact with video elements. As well, the camera pans around the artboard to display a multi-dimensional space to viewers. Rather than simply providing these videos on its website, EPL has leveraged the use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) and the phenomenally popular video sharing site YouTube, to expand the potential viewing audience and make these videos available to viewers around the world. By using a non-traditional multimedia approach, EPL is able to expand its service delivery model and share its services and resources with a wider audience.

Progress

In less than three months, these videos have already been viewed over 11,000 times. This translates into an average of 1,000 views each week and the online access is available to viewers from all around the world. As well, anecdotal feedback from staff, parents, and caregivers is that the children who view the videos tend to request repeated viewings, mimic what they see and hear, and learn the rhymes and songs quickly, all of which suggests that the goals of this initiative are being achieved.