Liberty Municipal Library introduces new online children’s program

Katie Edgell (left) and Maggie Varela are using videos to keep Liberty Municipal Library's Story Time going through the pandemic.

The Liberty Municipal Library is currently closed to the public for regular service, but the staff are behind the scenes working hard to offer a new service to the public.  Children’s Librarian Katie Edgell and Bilingual Library Technician Maggie Varela have introduced a brand-new program format to get their popular Story Time program out to children, even when the library is closed.

The Liberty Municipal Library’s Story Time has grown into a highly successful program for preschool children that introduces them to the enjoyment of reading. Katie and Maggie have found success as they jointly present their bilingual Story Time events to increasingly larger groups. Katie reads a story in English, and Maggie reads one in English, introducing easy Spanish words as the story progresses. Then the children enjoyed a craft activity. Singing and movement are also part of the mixture of activities.

When the library was forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Katie and Maggie knew they wanted to continue making Story Time available as a positive and entertaining weekly experience. They decided to try their hand at online programming, and they got busy figuring out what to do.

Both ladies had some experience with creating videos: Katie did a college project, and Maggie did a project for her church. They already had a winning formula for their weekly Story Time programs and decided to extend it online. Maggie provided a camera and tripod and then the painstaking work of creating something in a new format began.

The first online production was, as they described it, a learning experience.  They had to figure out how to make the book highly visible while it was being read. The second video, featuring Pete the Cat, accomplished that goal.

Then they progressed to the next challenge: lighting.  A fellow library worker, Mike Kaiser, had a large LED light fixture that was put up in front of the Story Time set. The results were good, but there were unwanted shadows. With the third video, most of the kinks had been worked out.

With the fourth production, Katie and Maggie wanted to add sound effects to enhance the story experience. That video featured the story Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Did You Hear, and introduced various wild animals. A recording of the sounds each animal makes was added to the video and that really brought the production to life.

In each video children can follow along as Katie and Maggie perform simple movements to fun songs. In one craft activity children make a noise maker they can shake with the movements.

 All of the YouTube videos can now be found through links on the library’s Facebook page. Instructions for a very simple craft activity with photographs and a supply list can be found in the comments section for each video.

Katie and Maggie hope to continue producing the weekly Story Time events, even after the library reopens with its regular schedule. They see this as way to deliver library services directly into the homes of children who cannot attend Story Time in person. Maggie and Katie invite everyone to check out their virtual Story Time online at the library’s Facebook page,

For more information on the virtual Story Time at the Liberty Municipal Library, please call 936-336-8901.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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