Storyphone offers remote stories for winter break and beyond
— Created December 23, 2020 by Kathy Reed
By Alec Brown
Looking for something to spark the imagination during winter break? Sno-Isle Libraries is now offering Storyphone, a remote storytelling service where customers can call in and listen to stories for free. You can call 360-651-7171 to listen to a new story each week. They are available in English, Spanish, Korean and Russian.
Sno-Isle Libraries Early Literacy Coordinator Joy Feldman described the service and how COVID encouraged them to make it.
“Because of COVID, we’ve seen a need to return to older technologies and Storyphone is one of those—just to reach a wider swath of families and customers in need,” Feldman said. “We’ve been offering a lot of wonderful story time through Facebook, Zoom. We have our stay-at-home story time snippet and we’re really excited about that…but we also know that we have a lot of families where it’s just really a challenge technology-wise to access storytime through all of those formats.”
“There are large areas on Whidbey Island where this is a real challenge,” she continued. “And so, Storyphone! It’s just a line, you call in, and you get to listen to a story…and we also have a separate line for our 3rd grade reading challenge. We have some schools on Whidbey Island that are participating with us and they have the opportunity to listen to one of our books by a local author.”
Sno-Isle isn’t alone in offering this kind of service. Many libraries have been forced to adapt and reach out to their customers because of the pandemic.
“It’s a service that’s been offered in other libraries like Seattle Public Library,” said Feldman. “It was very successful and was offered for many years and was retired or phased out. And again, because of COVID, a lot of organizations, libraries included, have been thinking and reassessing what they’re offering. So we’re not alone—libraries have been thinking about this, of offering a dial up story or storyphone to their customers. I don’t think we’ve ever offered it in the past…for us, it was really the right time. We had to pivot quickly to take a lot of our storytimes online and then we really started thinking about other ways we want to get stories out to our families. So Storyphone is one of them.”
But the service isn’t just for kids. It has a kinetic appeal for anyone yearning for some storytelling fun.
“I am a storyphone customer,” Feldman mentioned. “I’m dialing in regularly—I love to listen to stories. It’s really fun to listen to a quick story.”
She hopes that Storyphone will bring comfort to people during what might be a lonely winter break.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about—something that families can tune into during winter break,” said Feldman.
But Storyphone isn’t the only thing Sno-Isle Libraries is up to. There are a whole heap of services for kids and families.
“Sno-Isle Libraries continues to offer many daily online events, available to all Sno-Isle Libraries customers no matter where they live,” said Sno-Isle Libraries Communications Specialist Kurt Batdorf. “There’s family trivia, adult ‘pub’ trivia, children’s storytimes, Craft and Chat work groups, Book to Movie discussion meetings, numerous book discussion groups, Silver Kite adult art classes and more.”
All scheduled events can be found at sno-isle.bibliocommons.com/events/search/index.
Feldman described even more programs. “We also have some winter science programs coming up during winter break for families to enjoy and those are from the Pacific Science Center,” she said. “In the past, we’ve offered those in our building during the winter break, but now we’ve taken them online and are really excited about that. And of course, we have story time going on year-round.
“These are materials where they can have an activity to do,” Feldman continued. “For example, a bingo card activity—getting kids excited about doing a number of activities and they can pick up a prize when they’ve done their activities—or for teens, they can make a stress ball, so we have a lot of ready-to-go activities for families.”
Sno-Isle Libraries’ science programs can be accessed at sno-isle.org/blogs/post/winter-break-science/, and take-home activities—and more—can be found at sno-isle.org/blogs/post/to-do-to-go-crafts-activities-for-kids-teens/.
“We care a lot about kids…so we want to do our best to support our communities and our families to keep them engaged and active,” Feldman concluded. “Despite all of the challenges that we have faced in 2020 due to COVID-19, it’s actually been a really exciting time and it’s really pushed us to innovate, to collaborate across our system and with community partners…so there’s been many silver linings to it, and we’ve been constantly inspired by all our families and our customers who utilize the libraries, and we’re excited to keep offering them new services.”