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Summit County Library emerges from shutdown with virtual story and rhyme times

Kirsten Nilsson, Summit County Library's youth services librarian, sings a song about a dog stuffed animal and tells the toddlers to hug him goodbye during Terrific Toddler Time Wednesday morning, June 14, 2017. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst

What: Virtual Summer Story Time

When: 10:30 a.m., Tuesdays

Where: Summit County Library Facebook page

Cost: free

Web: facebook.com/SummitCountyLibrary

What: Virtual Rhyme Time

When: 10:30 a.m., Thursdays

Where: Summit County Library Facebook page

Cost: free

Web: facebook.com/SummitCountyLibrary

The Summit County Library branches at Kimball Junction, Coalville and Kamas Valley have been dark since March 11 due to the health department’s COVID-19 protocols.

But the guidelines aren’t preventing Youth Services Librarian Kirsten Nilsson from starting weekly virtual summer story and rhyme times.

Story times will begin on Tuesday, June 2, and rhyme times will begin on Thursday, June 4. Both sessions will start at 10:30 a.m. and will be accessible through the Summit County Library’s Facebook page, Nilsson said.

“We’re super excited to be back in a way,” Nilsson said. “It’s too bad we can’t connect in person, because I miss all my little people, but this is the next best thing.”

As they were when Nilsson led the sessions in person, the story times and rhyme times are designed for preschoolers, toddlers, babies and their caregivers, she said.

“Hopefully families will sit down in front of whatever screen they can find to sing, dance and have a lot of fun,” she said.

The health and safety of library patrons are the reasons why Nilsson wanted to move the sessions online.

“When we would host the story times in person, we would get between 20 to 30 people, including parents, in one room,” she said. “And you know young kids aren’t good at social distancing.”

The rhyme times would attract up to 60 people, Nilsson said.

“We actually had to do two, one for younger kids, and one for toddlers, so we could accommodate the crowds,” she said.

In addition, Nilsson would head to the Coalville Branch every Wednesday to lead another story time.

“We would get about 20 people in the room out there, so I’m hoping our Coalville people will join us on Facebook on Thursdays,” she said.

For the story times, Nilsson draws up a list of different themes and topics she thinks would be fun and engaging.

“I make this list in August and then plug those themes in our story times throughout the school year,” she said. “Then a week before the story time I would go through our children’s books collection and ones that match the theme of the week.”

The story times usually included a craft, but at the present there won’t be crafts offered during the virtual sessions, she said.

The story time theme for June 2 will be award-winning books, according to Nilsson.

She chose this theme because the Children’s Literature Association of Utah announced its Beehive Book Awards a few weeks ago.

Nilsson will read “Can I Be Your Dog” by Troy Cummins, which was one of the nominees, and “This Is the Nest that Robin Built” by Denise Fleming, which won the poetry award.

“These awards are chosen by Utah children, and the library was closed when this year’s awards were announced,” she said. “I’ll also read a Caldecott Winner, and I plan to pick one of my favorites from this year.”

Rhyme times are presented differently than story times, according to Nilsson.

“Every month I’ll make a different handout that will include the lyrics of most of the songs and rhymes we will cover that month,’ she said. “During each session, we sing each song two times so the kids can learn it, and parents can follow along.”

The handouts will be posted online at the library’s website for the virtual sessions, Nilsson said.

“I’m working on putting those together now,” she said.

Nilsson will also introduce Pippi, a puppy who was named after the heroine in Astrid Lindgren’s “Pippi Longstocking” children’s books.

“We are going to train her to be a read dog for the library, and she’ll make some appearances from time to time during the story and rhyme times.”

In addition to the virtual story and rhyme times, the Summit County Library will further kids’ love for books through its Picture Book Kit request program.

The program is based on a system set up by Katrina Kmak at the Park City Library, Nilsson said.

“The trouble with coronavirus is that parents can come into the library to browse the shelves, which is mostly what the children’s section of the library is about,” Nilsson said. “So we set up a form where parents and caretakers can choose a library branch, a category — including goodnight stories, animals, fairy tales and more.”

The adults can access the form online and fill in the ages of the children, and Nilsson will personally select some of her favorite age-appropriate books for pick up.

“The fun thing is I’m able to give families books that aren’t checked out a lot,” Nilsson said. “These are all great books, and I know families will love them once they read them.”

Nilsson started the Picture Book Kit request program May 22, and has kept Nilsson busy this past week.

“We’re going to do something similar for adults in the next few weeks,” she said.


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