COVID pushes children’s library leader to think outside the box

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By VICKI BROWN

vbrown@lowcountry.com

Shiela Keaise, Children’s Services coordinator at the Colleton Memorial Library, is now making numerous videos for children and putting them onto YouTube. The videos are entertaining and informative, and she is asking that more Colleton children watch them.

Creating the videos came out of the COVID-19 pandemic, when fewer children were coming to the library as precautions from the virus. This made Keaise rethink her usual children’s programs. “When Covid came, everything at the library changed,” said Keaise. “I had to completely rearrange the way I worked and held my programs.”

For six years, Keaise has been involved with programming at Palmetto Rural Telephone Co-op to have her children’s story times recorded, filmed and televised on the PRTC channel. The videos were also put on YouTube and titled “Miss Literacy.” 

In those videos, Keaise pretends to be Miss Literacy and she reads stories to children. She also sings. When Covid arrived, those videos came in handy.

Keaise became increasingly concerned for the children who used to come to her special programming in the summer and who also attended year-round, but could no longer attend due to Covid. She also wanted to do more to help them while assisting local teachers at the same time. Therefore, she came up with the idea of YouTube videos with special themes that would be fun, informative, and entertaining. 

Since PRTC was already broadcasting her reading program, she knew she needed to do something different. She decided to produce her own YouTube videos.

“I knew nothing about producing and editing my own videos,” said Keaise. “I had to learn, and I am still learning with the assistance of a lot of people.” 

Children’s Services Assistant Sue West, and Computer Consultant Lashonda Linder, help Keaise create the videos. She was also assisted by members of the Handy family: Keith, Melissa, Kylee, Bradly, and Allie, who purchased the lighting and helped with a green room for filming. 

Allie now works at the library and appears in some of the videos.

Each month, Keaise focuses on an educational theme. These themes include guests, a story time, and original songs written by Keaise and local piano teacher Carolyn Burns. 

Colleton County School District leader Jessica Williams is in partnership with Keaise and she gets the videos sent out to teachers within the local school district. 

PRTC also runs some videos on channel 57.

It takes her three days to make videos. Keaise adds sounds, animation and edits the film, which is extremely time consuming. She manages to produce a video every Wednesday and Friday. “My goal is not to replace teachers, but to supplement teachers. I use themes, and if teachers are working on that theme in the classroom, these videos go along with those lessons. This adds on to what they have already learned in the classroom. I don’t want to encroach on teachers’ territory,” said Keaise.

In January, the theme was “Manners.” 

In February, it was “Communications,” and in March it was “Health.” April’s theme is “Writing.” 

Another theme used in the videos is music. In prior videos, other themes and videos in the videos included cooking, Keaise explained how to make simple recipes.

This summer, the videos will feature an animal theme. The videos will be filmed at unusual locations. “We are filming at places that most people in Colleton don’t even know about. But I need children to watch and enjoy the videos,” she added.

To see these videos, go to YouTube and search Colleton County Memorial Library. 

A list of themes can be found on the library’s Web site at www.colletonlibrary.org. 

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