Vol 3 (2023)

In-person and virtual storytime programs beyond early literacy development:: a case study of the Mississauga Library during the COVID-19 pandemic

Victoria Le
Robert Gordon University
Published June 21, 2023
  • early literacy development,
  • emergent literacy,
  • literacy,
  • public library,
  • storytime,
  • children,
  • parents,
  • caregivers,
  • education,
  • virtual programs,
  • in-person programs,
  • COVID-19,
  • pandemic
  • ...More


Early literacy development is a fundamental aspect of a child’s learning with implications for their future success in school and life. Storytimes have been a staple program offered by public libraries for years, but gaps exist in the current data about the impact and benefits that children and their parents/caregivers gain from attending the programs with a notable absence of research into how virtual storytime programs play a role. This study investigates the impact of storytime programs on children and their parents and caregivers beyond and including early literacy development with a focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the program delivery and the response from the community. A case study of how the Mississauga Library pivoted from in-person to virtual storytime examines the challenges, opportunities, and response to the programs from library professionals and the community that they serve. The research employs a mixed-methodology approach, analysing qualitative and quantitative data through the use of questionnaires targeting library patrons and program attendees, and one-on-one interviews with educators and Mississauga Library staff. This research provides insight into the effectiveness of and overall response to virtual storytime programming during the pandemic where there is currently limited data. From these research findings, recommendations have been made for improvement in future library programming for both virtual and in-person storytime, for collaboration between education and library organisations and for investing in the training of library staff to better address the needs of their communities.