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Director of Library Services launches digital story time during pandemic

Monika RhueCharlotte, N.C. / May 29, 2020 - COVID-19 has created challenges for the students and faculty of Johnson C. Smith University, as well as staff members like Monika Rhue, director of Library services at James B. Duke Library. When the University moved classes online in March, Rhue and her team quickly took action to ensure students had the necessary tools to work remotely.

“The library staff was receptive and flexible in adopting the COVID-19 library plan and providing suggestions,” Rhue said.

Library staff launched LibGuide, a tool selected to communicate to students, faculty and staff on how the library will operate, answered questions via the library online chat and set up a hotline. In addition, Rhue reviews articles daily and participates in several listserv group email discussions pertaining to the pandemic.

“It’s very beneficial for me to learn about how library deans and directors from other universities managed the transition online and the potential scenarios they are using for re-opening at their institutions,” she added.  

In an effort to reach communities during the pandemic, Rhue also restructured her blog, Mut Griot Production, to include an online story time. 

“People need positive stories during this time of COVID-19,” she added. “Stories have a way of connecting and bringing people together, especially families.”

Rhue launched her blog June 2014 after realizing that African and African American history is still not readily accessible to communities.

“It is my hope that story time performances online will bring back family time, an appreciation for African and African American folktales, and expose people to positive black stories.”

In addition to her digital stories, Rhue has compiled a list of resources on her personal blog, including information on teaching tools during COVID-19, FREE online workshops for teachers and educators, lesson plans, resources for science lab online, and open educational resources.

The professional storyteller debuted her first story time presentation May 16, 2020.

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