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Virtual Story Time Services Guide

    Creator: Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL)

    Date Updated: January 3, 2023


    Developed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virtual Story Time Services Guide helps libraries conduct important outreach services that would have otherwise been unavailable. The guidelines for conducting virtual storytime cover the technologies necessary, promotion, copyright, best practices, inclusive policies, support for early literacy, and programming ideas.

    The information in this resource is from the Virtual Story Time Services Guide.

    Quick Facts

    Many decisions go into creating virtual programming, and this resource can help guide you during the process. Below, we’ve summarized some of the considerations you should factor in when planning virtual programming.

    • The Technologies and Tools used in virtual programming depend on your goals, audience, and presentation needs (e.g., live or prerecorded). When selecting the technologies to use, consider the following:
      • The accessibility of virtual programming. Captions, audio descriptions, and transcripts need to be available. Additionally, consider how accessible the technology platform is. For example, does it comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?
      • The privacy and cybersecurity policies of the technologies. Will library patrons need to register? Will the programming recording be available to watch at a later date? Research the technologies that most align with your answers.
      • Consider the type of programming you are planning for library patrons. Will it be a podcast or a video? Will it be recorded in
      • If you are recording the audio (e.g. podcast) or video (e.g. YouTube tutorial), you may need editing and captioning software.
    • Promoting the programming requires help from multiple sources, including library staff, social media, and communication policies. Consider the following:
      • The target audience for the virtual programming.
      • Talking points about the programming for all library staff so they can promote and answer questions about it.
      • Promote the virtual program using your library’s communications tools (social media, handouts, a digital or physical calendar, the library website, etc.).
    • Copyright Considerations for the materials used in the programming. Consider who holds the rights to the books and materials that will be in the virtual programming and if they can be used in a recorded event.
    • Adapt your in-person Programming Practices for your virtual programming.
      • Define your library’s goals and objectives for virtual programming.
      • Plan out the programming and factor in how the audience will interact with it.
      • Consider creating a schedule for the library programming.
      • Ask for feedback from library staff during the planning.
      • After the virtual programming is completed, you still need to edit the audio and/or video.
    • Have inclusive policies for your virtual programming to serve Diverse Children and Families. All people should be represented in your virtual programming.
    • Support Early Digital Literacy by considering the needs of your community and your audience and evaluating the digital needs of children.
    • There are a number of virtual Programming Ideas that libraries can consider, such as:
      • Storytime
      • Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) topics are great for virtual programming as they are hands-on.
      • Art programming would be great for virtual programming.
      • Games and Activities
      • Much more…

    Review the Virtual Story Time Services Guide.


    “Virtual Storytime Services Guide,” American Library Association, April 3, 2020. Accessed January 3, 2023. Retrieved from Document ID: db03ea37-e784-40a7-8436-71410358ec0a