North Harrow Community Library began its YouTube channel in May 2020, after having to close for the national lockdown. The impetus behind the channel was to provide patrons and even those beyond our community in Harrow with some of the enrichment and events the library usually offers. When open, NHCL provided well-attended Story and Nursery Time sessions, clubs, and author events. Another element of the library that was lost with lockdown was the ability for patrons and volunteers to chat about books and recommend different reads to one another, something we felt was really important.
Since May, we’ve filmed, edited, and uploaded a variety of videos, including retellings of folktales for children, book recommendations and interviews with award-winning authors. These online videos can be accessed by all and the YouTube channel has been great in getting word of the library out further afield. We’ve had over 2,000 views from all over the world, from America to Saudi Arabia. The online interviewing and filming aspect means that we can run interviews with authors from wherever they are virtually and volunteers can contribute to the library whilst safely at home.
The YouTube channel offers more opportunities for volunteers to help out with the library even if they can’t come into the physical space for whatever reason; volunteers offered their creative, filming and editing skills, finding new ways to interact with and support the library even whilst it was closed. Creating the YouTube channel provided our patrons with content and entertainment but also offered volunteers ways of feeling useful and connected as lockdown cut off other methods of community service.
Growing our online presence through the YouTube channel and our social media platforms has arguably also had knock-on effects in increased donations and buyers on eBay for our second-hand books. We noticed donations coming in on Fridays when we uploaded videos and do feel that the community was happy to give something in return for what the library was offering, even though we were shut at the time.
Running the YouTube channel requires time, a bit of creative problem solving and volunteers with a wide variety of skills to help out. The videos require people knowing how to film, to edit, and having creative ideas they’re willing to carry out. NHCL is blessed with talented volunteers who are happy to share their talents; people answered my calls for editors and ideas for videos with enthusiasm. Equally, authors were happy to get involved after being approached through email or social media. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without our strong family of volunteers.
Overall, the YouTube channel has meant that our patrons aren’t neglected during lockdown and that we remain a constant presence in their day-to-day lives, albeit virtually. It offers opportunities for our volunteers and has brought in tangible financial benefits as well, in the form of donations. A library can mean so much to so many different people in different ways, and we’re proud to have done our best for our patrons even during an incredibly difficult and topsy-turvy year.
You can find our YouTube channel here: https://youtube.com/channel/UCuDm3M8bjQinUAm_8OEf76w
By Ramya Jegatheesan