Whether we like it or not, the digital age is here. While once we may have flicked through the pages of a book, stories and storytelling can now be done via screen, video, and virtual means. Despite challenges due to COVID-19 and the consequent lockdowns and restrictions, learning centres like libraries are using this as an opportunity to innovate across the world.

Combining traditional library models and infrastructure with digital mediums, teachers and  librarians are able to combine the best of both worlds, using the tools at hand, to continually engage with their communities.

Librarians and teachers have found new avenues to engage in storytelling with digital platforms like Story Box Library (SBL), providing familiar faces to kids during what has been an uncertain and challenging time.

The smooth operators of digital in our own backyards

Not only in the swift responses to the global pandemic, but through quick transitions to online learning, it seems as though Australia and New Zealand are the envy  of the world. Always quick learners and ready to adapt, libraries across our Asia-Pacific have openly embraced the opportunity to learn and share in new ways, taking the challenge in their stride.

On New Zealand’s North Island, Wellington City Libraries have used SBL to pivot and transform their library services, Stephanie Poulopoulos explained. 

“Some of the programs for kids and teens included virtual storytimes, and our online collections and services, including Story Box Library, were the focus,” she said. 

“All our online resources experienced spikes in usage during lockdown. Story Box Library usage for example, increased by a whopping 2000% from February to March. Since the reopening of our libraries, usage remains high.”

There has been increasing demand for digital storytelling options, but with the COVID-19 closures, the catalyst for high-quality online storytelling has highlighted opportunities for online engagement.

Using Story Box Library’s downloadable digital materials and creating their own how-to video, libraries like Wellington promoted the importance and access of digital storytelling to their community members. 

Embracing the virtual world for learning

No matter where you live, digital libraries can be accessed anywhere. 

Elizabeth Roberts, from Libraries Tasmania, explained, “Pre-COVID 19, we had Story Box running on a loop on a dedicated screen located in the children’s library, placed low with two ottoman seats nearby, making it an ideal space for children to sit and engage with the screen. 

“It provides an additional platform for children to engage with stories and reading.”

The power of the virtual space like SBL means that wherever you are, you can be connected to storytelling. With the recent closures of libraries in their physical spaces, keen innovators have been swiftly finding new ways to make virtual work for everyone.

Beyond the library walls, children and families can engage together, and learn from each other in the comfort of their own home. 

Lisa Ryan, from Gympie Library in Queensland, says, “Children love the platform – it is a wonderful opportunity for parents who may have reluctant readers.”

This is part two of a two-part SBL blog. Read part one here.

Librarians interested in using Story Box Library in their community can find more information here.

To learn more about using Story Box Library in your community, to connect children with literature through the complementary medium of film providing a vibrant, interactive experience via a diverse range of everyday storytellers, visit the Story Box Library website.

Read more here about the Australian businesses making waves despite pandemic restrictions, from EarlyPay.