video chat

This is a lonely time, and though many of us connect with others through posting platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, it can be difficult to stay at home all day with the same people. Eventually, as we begin to miss our friends (and even our coworkers), and wonder: how can we gather while staying safe?

The answer is a virtual social hour, in which multiple people join a video chat to share an experience: a book discussion, playing a game, even chatting over an end-of-the-day beverage. Virtual social hours are a great way to see the people you miss while protecting public health.

3 Tips for a Successful Social Hour

  • Keep it small - limit the group size so you are likely to hear each other. Video chats make it possible to see that someone is preparing to speak, so limit the number of participants so you can pay attention and not talk over each other. Depending on which software you use, try to select a view option that lets you see a grid of each person's video, instead of putting one person front-and-center while they talk.
  • Set a purpose - Are you discussing a specific topic (such as the most recent Hoopla Book Club Hub selection)? Sharing tales of parenting in the trenches with your mom group? Perhaps you're hosting a virtual dinner party? Whatever the reason, setting a purpose can make it worth the trouble to change out of our "day pajamas" and into normal clothes (at least from the waist up).
  • Choose a platform everyone can use - if you are gathering your entire family for dinner, don't choose software that will frustrate friends and family with a complicated installation or expensive subscription requirements. Choose something that will be easy enough for your most tech-phobic participant, and maybe do a practice run beforehand. 

Comparing Three Popular Options

There are MANY different programs out there to help you find a virtual space for friends to meet. Here are some popular options that accommodate groups of 10 or more; are available for Android, iOS, and Windows; have free options, and are helping friends and family come together across the country right now. 

Zoom 

Zoom seems to be everywhere recently due to its heavy use in online education (which has grown exponentially in the last month), and its newfound popularity in businesses. Anyone can use it to attend a meeting, though hosts must have accounts and their account status is what affects limitations on meeting size and duration. Tutorials are available here.  

Pros - High-quality video and an intuitive interface. Some fun and useful advanced features available in free accounts, including very fun Virtual Backgrounds. Multiple users can share their screens with the group. 

Cons - Groups meetings are limited to 40 minutes unless the host has a Pro account. (Host can immediately re-start a meeting if needed.)

Cost - Free for basic access, with Pro accounts available for $14.99/month

Google Hangouts

Google products are everywhere, even for people who aren't "power-users". Many of us use Google as our default search engine, or Google Maps to find directions. Google Hangouts, Google''s "everyday" video chat has been around for years, and its getting even more use these days. Tutorial available here. 

Pros - If you are a Google user, Hangouts easily fits into your other Google products, such as Gchat, Calendar and Gmail. The interface is one of the easiest to understand, too, if you aren't looking to use advanced features. It has no time limit on meetings, even for free accounts.

Cons - Google Hangout requires a Google login, which are free to create but may be a nuisance if you don't have one already. Though it limits free accounts to 25 users, for our purposes this isn't much of a drawback: we think 25 is plenty.

Cost - Free, though there are business-level upgrades starting at $6/month.

Skype

Skype has been around since 2003, and is one of the longest-running options for making calls on your computer. They're now owned by Microsoft, so if you have a Windows 10 computer it's possible you already have it set up on your device. Tutorial available here. 

Pros - Getting set up for a call is very simple with Skype. There is no time limit on calls, and the web feature allows you to blur your background so no one can see how messy your house is right now.

Cons - Skype is not known for its video quality compared to Zoom and Hangouts, and audio calls perform much better. Its free features aren't as fun as Zoom's.

Cost - Free for computer-to-computer calls, but paid options exist for calls directly to phone numbers, or international calls. Rates vary by country, but are generally under $10/month US, or Skype Credit (a pay-as-you-go option) can be purchased as well. 

Hoopla homeschooling resources

Do your kids miss going to school? (Do you miss sending your kids to school?) Hoopla can help! Here is a collection of always-available titles Elementary-age children can learn with (and enjoy) during their time at home.  

Not only are Hoopla titles always available, but at this time Hoopla has curated a list of more than 1,100 "Bonus Borrow" titles that are free to checkout and do not count against your monthly limits. We've put together a list of our favorites. (Educational Bonus Borrows are marked with an *)

 

 

MDHHS logo

If you are struggling with uncertainty, fear, and isolation during the COVID-19 crisis, or any other non-emergency mental health concerns, free help is available by phone. Call 888-PEER-753 (888-733-7753)  to speak with a Certified Peer Support Specialist. The call is free, provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Lines are open seven days a week, 10 AM to 2 AM.

The State of Michigan MDHHS has launched these warmlines to connect people struggling with persistent mental health challenges to certified peer support specialists who have lived experiences of behavioral health issues, trauma or personal crises.

This is not a substitute for emergency mental health care. Individuals in crisis, including those considering suicide, are urged to contact the Disaster Distress Helpline 24/7 at 800-985-5990 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 800-273-8255.

Keep Calm and Read Books

The world is a bit crazy right now. If you turn on your TV or scroll through social media it is hard to ignore the news, and easy to feel anxious or overwhelmed. Though the disruptions may feel endless, Queen Elizabeth of England made a rare television broadcast to remind her country and us all that this too, shall pass. 

If you're seeking calm during this turbulent time, these books can help: 

At Home Fitness videos

Exercise is not only good for our bodies, it's proven to help our minds as well. If your routine is thrown off by gym closures, check out these great at-home options that are always available from Hoopla. 

Head back to the Move Your Body square or the 62 Days of Summer home page for more ways to participate in the summer program!

Not only are Hoopla titles always available, but at this time Hoopla has curated a list of more than 1,100 "Bonus Borrow" titles that are free to checkout and do not count against your monthly limits. We've put together a list of our favorites. (At-Home Fitness Bonus Borrows are marked with an *)

  • Rodney Yee Yoga for Beginners* (video) - If you are new to yoga, Gaiam's Yoga for Beginners video is an ideal place to start. Learn the importance of proper alignment while gaining the tools to establish a successful Yoga routine that can enhance your daily life.
  • My Yoga: Who Needs Coffee? *(video) - Answer: Most of us, Tara. If you're looking to kick the caffeine habit, try this short and energizing practice from Tara Lee that will work out all the kinks in your body and leave you feeling great.
  • Cardio Burn Walking for Weight Loss (video) - This unique walking fitness workout program shows you how to boost the fat- and calorie-burning power of fitness walking and fit it into your schedule.
  • Mari Windsor Flat Abs Pilates* (video) - Master Pilates instructor Mari Winsor targets your midsection and core. Strengthen your powerhouse and get a smaller waist, flatter abs and a longer, leaner look.
  • Jillian Michaels 10-Minute Body Transformation* (video) - A series of 10-minute workouts, all completely different to stave off boredom and prevent plateaus. Mix and match based on your schedule and how much time YOU have to exercise. As always, Jillian offers modifications and progressions for every move in each workout.
  • Bollywood Burn with Hemalayaa (video) - As you dance, you'll lose weight; tone your core, hips, and thighs; and kiss stress good-bye. So liven up, let loose, and laugh like Hemalayaa does. It's that much fun!
  • The RBG Workout by Bryant Johnson* (ebook) - Have you ever wondered what keeps Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the Supreme Court's favorite octogenarians, so sprightly? She owes it in part to the twice-weekly workouts she does with her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson. From planks to squats to (full) push-ups, this simple but challenging workout will have you getting fit in no time. 

 

Joe Exotic posing with tiger

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is the #1 Netflix show and top meme-generating entertainment media around these days. This show has everything: rivalries, polygamy, exotic animals, guns, mysterious disappearances, doomed political campaigns, and abundant animal-print couture. For all of these reasons and more, we can't stop thinking about it, and we want more. If you're feeling the same way, we recommend these stories of charismatic criminals, media sensations, cults of personality, and amazing crimes:

On the South Side of Chicago in 1974, Linda Taylor reported a phony burglary, concocting a lie about stolen furs and jewelry. The detective who checked it out soon discovered she was a welfare cheat who drove a Cadillac to collect ill-gotten government checks. And that was just the beginning: Taylor, it turned out, was also a kidnapper, and possibly a murderer. A desperately ill teacher, a combat-traumatized Marine, an elderly woman hungry for companionship- after Taylor came into their lives, all three ended up dead under suspicious circumstances. 

Volunteers needed!

We are all eyewitnesses to history as it unfolds in this time of social distancing, toilet-paper hoarding, business closures and even Some Good News. This crisis is affecting us all in different ways. What is your story?

Please consider recording your daily experiences, thoughts, and feelings in diary form, either in writing or video, to submit to the COVID-19: Share Your Story project. The Library of Michigan is looking to collect and preserve these stories of daily lives during the COVID-19 Pandemic to provide future historians, researchers, and students with information and data on daily life in Michigan communities during this crisis.

Submit your story to Librarian@Michigan.gov. ​

For details, visit the Library of Michigan Share Your Story project website.  

hoopla holidays

Are you looking to fill your December days with the best movies, music and ebooks to get in the holiday spirit? Every month you can use your Canton Public Library card to check out 20 items from Hoopla and read, watch, or listen to them anywhere you have a computer or device. Hoopla content is always available - no holds, no waiting. We've gathered some of the best for the holidays from Hoopla: 

Holiday Movies for Frosty Nights

Holiday Movies Just for Kids

DIY Holiday eBooks

Classic Christmas Music

Holiday Music for Kids

Movie of the Month Christmas Reservations

If you fa-la-la-la-love a good holiday romance, Hoopla has you covered. Love stories for snowy days are instantly available with your CPL library card. Hoopla has ebooks and audiobooks you can take anywhere, and movies for cozy days in - including weekly releases of Lifetime original movies!

Holiday Romance - eBooks

Holiday Romance - audiobooks

Holiday Romance - streaming movies

It's a Wonderful Lifetime (new movies every week in December)

Hoopla Holiday album covers

The library may be closed today and tomorrow (11/28 and 11/29) for the Thanksgiving holiday, but that doesn't mean you have to wait to load up on holiday music! As always, the Library's digital services are available to you wherever you may be with your Canton Public Library card.

Click here to find your next holiday favorite-always available on Hoopla

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