Public Programming in the Pandemic

Course Description 

Practically every public library has had to master digital storytime in a hurry. But there’s much more that socially distanced programming can do to fight isolation, connect communities, support harried parents, and help patrons with their fundamental information needs—whether they are looking for a new job, seeking reliable health information to make the best decisions, or need a pandemic project like learning a craft or a new language.

Some traditional library offerings easily translate to a virtual environment to meet the needs of some patrons, while others require more adaptation. In this timely course, you’ll find out how leading libraries have pivoted to meet their communities’ changing needs. You’ll learn best practices for running a digital event, tackling essential services like workforce training and student support, and offering asynchronous programs like storywalks and scavenger hunts. We’ll also cover how to engage users without access to devices, an Internet connection, or comfort with technology—or who are simply all Zoomed out. You’ll also hear about clever program ideas that peer librarians have already translated to the digital or socially distant environment, such as a parking lot gaming tournament or a musical alternative to a book club, and generate ideas of your own. We’ll even address how to document your impact to show funders and voters how effective library service is regardless of whether the building is open.



  • Come up with three replicable program ideas for your library and a plan to implement them

  • Access a digital learning toolkit to use for years to come, whether you’re working with patrons in-person or remotely—or even both at once

  • Learn how to assess the success of your programs so that you can demonstrate your impact and refine future offerings. 


Inspiring Live Guest Speakers + Project-Based Learning

Engage with presenters via live video stream, visual presentations, and chats, and workshop practical solutions in groups, with guidance from an advisor, to map out your own plan to fit your library needs. You’ll leave with well-developed strategies designed to make a lasting impact on your community.

Online course features

  • Instructor-led online course features personalized interaction over 3+ weeks

  • Real-time guest speakers and conversation via live webcast (with recordings available afterward)

  • Self-guided track with video lessons and supporting resources in the online classroom to provide a foundation for your work

  • Project-Based homework assignments to help you make progress on your goals

  • Individualized attention from course facilitators who work with you in a coaching environment to help sort out challenges

  • Ongoing group conversation via discussion forums

  • Articles, videos, and other resources

  • Access all course content for 6 months after the course ends

  • Bonus: Register early and get immediate access to bonus content

  • Certificate of Completion Provided

Who should take this course

This event is excellent for teaching librarians at any grade level.

Can’t make a live session? No worries. All sessions will be available to you “on-demand” following the initial broadcast.

Part 1: Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 2–4 pm ET

Session 1 | 2:00-2:45 PM ET

The Changing Landscape of Library Services
An overview of how the pandemic has impacted public library programs and services, and what libraries are doing to meet the needs of their patrons during this unprecedented time. Hear about creative solutions to libraries’ most urgent challenges in this comprehensive session with Erica Freudenberger, Outreach Consultant for the Southern Adirondack Library System (NY). You’ll come away with actionable ideas and inspiration to move you forward into the next stage of programming in a pandemic--and help combat the overwhelm.
Speaker: Erica Freudenberger, Outreach Consultant, Southern Adirondack Library System, Saratoga Springs, NY, and 2016 LJ Mover & Shaker


Session 2 | 3:00-4:00 PM ET

Great Program Ideas You Can Steal Part I: Clever Programming for Virtual, Distance, and Remote Settings
Learn from what other libraries are doing and adapt it to your own needs in this exciting session. You’ll hear dynamic program ideas from libraries that have planned and executed them with great success.
Speaker: To be announced soon

Part 2: Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 2–4 pm ET

Session 1 | 2:00-3:00 PM ET

Great Program Ideas You Can Steal Part II: Clever Programming for Virtual, Distance, and Remote Settings
Learn from what other libraries are doing and adapt it to your own needs in this exciting session. You’ll hear dynamic program ideas from libraries that have planned and executed them with great success.
Speaker: To be announced soon


Session 2 | 3:15-4:00 PM ET

Practical Approaches to Handling the Digital Environment
Over the last year, we’ve all become familiar with Zoom and other meeting platforms, but are we using these platforms to their full potential? In this practical session with Ben Drain and Nathaniel Rasmussen of IT Services at the Schlow Centre Region Library (PA), you’ll learn how to navigate the digital environment like a pro. From dealing with security issues, to managing break-out rooms, you’ll find out all you need to know to level-up your Zoom game.
Speaker: Ben Drain, IT Services Technician, Schlow Centre Region Library, State College, PA
Nathaniel Rassmusen, Head of IT Services, Schlow Centre Region Library, State College, PA and 2018 LJ Mover & Shaker

Part 3: Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 2–4 PM ET

Session 1 | 2:00-2:45 PM ET

Engaging Low-Tech Patrons and Removing Barriers to Access
Now that much of our programming and services have transitioned to virtual and remote settings, how do we work with our low-tech patrons to ensure they have access to the services they need at the library? In this session, you’ll learn how some libraries have engaged their lower-tech patrons and made sure that this vulnerable group isn’t left behind when it comes to digital offerings. You’ll also hear how to address other barriers to access that have intensified as a result of the pandemic and come away with ideas for how to remove them.
Speaker: To be announced soon


Session 2 | 3:00-3:45 PM ET

Essential Services: Addressing the Need-To-Haves
Library programs can provide great virtual enrichment opportunities in toddler storytimes, teen makerspaces, adult crafting circles, and much more, but what about the essential services that libraries provide? Though these services are often the most vital ones the library offers, the question of how to deliver them remotely can be especially challenging. When it comes to assisting with job hunting, citizenship prep, and how to apply for health insurance, libraries have had to innovate to ensure their patron populations are supported. In this session, you’ll learn how to deliver these vital programs with the urgency they require.

Speaker: To be announced soon

Session 3 | 3:45-4:15 PM ET

What’s Next? Evolving Sustainably Into the Future
In this interactive closing session of our workshop, participants will engage in conversation with a library expert to discuss what we’ve learned, crystallize our takeaways, and come up with ideas for how we can move into the future of librarianship with confidence.
Speaker: To be announced soon


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