Content Creation with the Rolla Public Library (2020-2021)

By Derek Zboran

In the midst of the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries were left scrambling shifting to virtual platforms to engage communities. Derek Zboran, a dedicated staff member at the Rolla Public Library, leveraged initiative, creativity, and professionalism during the COVID-19 pandemic to significantly expand the library’s programming reach.

As the pandemic spread, Derek adeptly steered the library into its first foray into virtual programming, catering to patrons of all ages. His quick adaptation and willingness to learn and teach video editing skills were instrumental in transforming the library’s weekly Story Times and activity programs into engaging online formats. Under his guidance, the library successfully hosted two vibrant online Summer Reading Programs during the summers of 2020 and 2021—with the first being entirely virtual and the second a hybrid model.

Building on the success of these programs, Derek expanded his repertoire to include video interviews with community members, effectively linking the Rolla Public Library brand with local businesses such as Soda & Scoops, Kristina’s Casa, and Town and Country Bank. These collaborative efforts resulted in popular programs for children that were broadcast on the library’s social media pages, featuring business profiles, interviews, and stories tailored to young audiences.

The year 2021 marked Missouri’s bicentennial, and Derek seized this opportunity to produce a regular Missouri Bicentennial Series. This initiative fostered positive connections between the library and esteemed academic leaders across the state, including John McManus, Diana Ahmad, Steven Watts, Chuck Haddix, and Gary Kremer.

Additionally, Derek’s collaboration with the Phelps County Historical Society on four interview projects garnered thousands of views on social media, generating significant buzz for both the library and the historical society. His meticulous research and thoughtful questioning underscored the quality of these interviews.

Derek’s ability to embrace challenges and his enthusiasm for projects have made him an invaluable asset to the Rolla Public Library. His efforts have not only helped the library grow its brand across the Midwest but have also enhanced its outreach within the Rolla community. His skillful interviewing techniques, whether via video or audio, have fostered meaningful connections with neighbors and partners alike.

The impact of Derek’s leadership in library/community programs extends far beyond temporary social media attention. Many partners have repeatedly reached out to the library, some even contributing donation funds for its programs. Through his exemplary work over the past two years, Derek has played a pivotal role in building a vibrant community network, enriching the Rolla Public Library and its mission in dynamic and contemporary ways.

Rebecca Buckley praised Derek’s contributions and the significant role he played in expanding the library’s influence through value-based connections in her foreword to his book, “Power Podcasting.” The Rolla Public Library and its community are profoundly better off thanks to Derek Zboran’s dedication and innovative approach to library programming during a challenging time.