9 March 2023
Image credit: Jerseyville Public Library.

The Jerseyville Public Library has been presenting Preschool Storytime for as long back as most staff members can remember. It is a program presented once a month where children ages 2-6 can gather at the library and have a story read to them, sing and dance along to some fun tunes and use their little hands to make a special craft. The children enjoy it so much and have a great time.

So, this got us thinking “why should kids have all the fun?”. There are several assisted living facilities in our small community with active senior citizens who for some reason or another are not able to get out as much as they used to or as much as they would like. Senior citizens who might like stories. Senior citizens who might like music and senior citizens who very well might like to use their hands to make a special craft.

Thus, began the spark that ignited Senior Storytime!

Phone calls were made to the local facilities to gauge interest and the idea was warmly welcomed by all. Seniors are often a forgotten but large majority of the population in general. Although activity directors plan activities and seek out entertainers, the members of this geriatric community do not get many outside visitors on a regular basis.

And so, the Jerseyville Public Library started Senior Storytime. Two outgoing members of the library staff (our director and our social media/marketing specialist) who also happen to be musically inclined (piano for one, ukulele for the other) put together a program consisting of an engaging and fun book to read aloud, a musical sing-a-long set of recognizable songs and a simple craft.  Dates were booked and facility activity directors were excited to share with their residents that the library was coming!

So far, two Senior Storytime events have occurred at three different assisted living facilities in our town – one at Christmas time (including Christmas Carols, of course) and the other near Valentine’s day (with love songs being the musical genre).

To say the seniors LOVED it is not an over-exaggeration. They were thrilled to see us and hear all about the library. They laughed at the book, they sang their hearts out to the music and they enjoyed making a simple, uncomplicated craft. Many stayed afterwards while the staff members packed up and spoke with them about their library and other life experiences. They were all looking forward to the next Senior Storytime visit. More Storytime visits are in the works to take place on a regular basis.

The Storytime presenters also introduced the library’s Homebound program to those at the facilities who were not aware that library staff would bring books, audiobooks and other materials customized to their personal preferences directly to the residents if they were not able to get to the library. Many seniors were excited about this wonderful service not previously known to them as some facilities are limited in their reading, listening and viewing materials and this would open up an expanded world to them.

If a library has not considered heading out into the community to bring their library to those residents who cannot get to them, Senior Storytime is highly recommended and great fun for the participants as well as the staff. The smiles on the faces when the library shows up are priceless!

Today's guest blog post is from Beth Smilack, Social Media Specialist, Jerseyville Public Library