Vail Public Library works to provide fun and normalcy with virtual story times on Facebook
“You are here today, you are here today, let’s all clap our hands because you are here today,” Cricket Pylman sang to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell” in a Facebook Live stream from the Vail Public Library’s page.
“Today, we’re having story time from Cricket’s house,” she said, holding up a copy of “Where the Wild Things Are.”
“I decided, for our first virtual story time, we would go with a very good old favorite.”
Pylman is one of the most familiar faces at the Vail Public Library, one that both visitors and locals alike recognize. She conducts story times at the Vail Public Library often, but concerns about the novel coronavirus have shut down many of Vail’s familiar places, and the library was one. So they decided to make them virtual: no unnecessary social contact, same fun for kids and same relief for moms.
When moms saw her on their feeds, reading a story beloved by all ages, they announced their kids were watching in the comments and thanked her for her service. Visitors to the Vail Valley commented from their homes in Jackson Hole, Boston and Minnesota.
“One of our favorite things to do when we visit Vail in summer is story time with Ms. Cricket. Thanks for posting this,” said Sydney Martins Buffum in a Facebook comment on the video for “Where the Wild Things Are.”
Buffum, from Overland Park, Kansas, has two boys, ages four and five. She said in a later comment that watching Pylman’s virtual story time is almost like being in Vail, and that the daily story times have become part of her family’s new normal.
Pylman started the virtual story time series on Wednesday, March 18. The idea came out of a social media town of Vail meeting — she had missed the part where everyone else signed her up to do this, but once she heard, she was all in.
“Of course, I was thrilled, scared and excited. I had actually been thinking about how can we do something like this,” she said.
Pylman hopes to continue conducting virtual story times until “we’re back in business,” and now she has Kari Mohr, who works on social media and marketing with the town of Vail, helping her with the technological side.
Of course, the main audience for a story time will always be children. The emotional significance of maintaining some sense of normalcy isn’t lost on Pylman.
“I’m not kidding myself that I’m a celebrity, but I am a familiar face. I think that is the comfort in this for the kids,” she said. “I guess if we sing some of our usual songs, dance and bounce around life will feel more normal — like the story time they are used to having. Some are pretty shy at the library. I bet my non-dancers are dancing up a storm at home.”
“This is a blessing and I’m so honored to do it. Hopefully this touches people where it is needed.”