The library hosts storytimes in multiple languages including Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, Spanish and English. Storytimes are family-friendly library programs, typically for young children birth to age six. Library staff select and read aloud age-appropriate books and lead children in songs, rhymes and movement activities.
Staff who speak these languages lead storytimes in libraries and sometimes in other places like community centers and parks. They also bring storytime to community events.
Once a month, the library's Chinese team and Vietnamese team visit community members at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO). Here, the teams provide a trilingual storytime, where a story is read in Chinese, Vietnamese and English all at the same time.
Sally Li, bilingual Chinese library assistant, brings storytime to schools, community groups and centers to connect with the Chinese community. Sally reads books in Chinese and shares rhymes and activities. She creates craft kits for families to do on their own and helps people sign up for their own library card.
These visits are opportunities to connect with patrons and help the community. “We want to have more than storytime,” says Sally. “We can help you with resources too.”
Natalia Alexandra, bilingual Russian library assistant, does many of the storytimes at the library for the Russian-speaking community. During the summertime, she also hosts some of the Russian language outdoor storytimes. Her storytimes can sometimes be bilingual in both English and Russian.
“A very big celebration for our community is storytime at the park. We do that program for at least one hour. People come from all different parts of town and really celebrate our short summer in the parks,” says Natalia.
The children hear the story and then enjoy playing, singing, and making a craft. From leading storytimes, Natalia also developed a book club for Russian-speaking children at the library.
Storytimes at the library aren’t just about listening to a story.
“Storytimes can be a time for the families to socialize,” shares Trang Oliver, bilingual Vietnamese library assistant. “I’ve seen families talk to each other and share resources together.”
Bilingual Vietnamese library assistant Karen Nguyen says, “The impact of the storytime is not just for the parents and the kids, it’s for the grandparents too. Sometimes the grandparents take the children to storytimes and it's a time for them to share and laugh.”