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A Librarian reflects on changes from COVID-19

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

On March 13th, library programs for the rest of the month were cancelled. I thought "It's okay. I can put all my program prep in a box and we can do them another season. There will be other opportunities for me to give my "how to start a library game collection" presentation. I have plenty of games to catalog and Summer programs to prepare for."

On March 14th, I worked the last Saturday before we closed. The decision not to open on Monday hadn't been made yet. I thought it might happen in a week at the earliest. I buzzed through the library, asking every patron from child to adult if I could recommend a book to them. You like mythological creatures? How about middle grade trilogy The Menagerie ?

You liked The Hate U Give but also like sci-fi dystopia? How about Pet or Slay?

You want a sci-fi plague that's not gory or sad? How about the cyborg cinderella retelling Cinder?

You want a children's ghost story? How about The Forgotten Girl?

If the library might close at some point in the future, I wanted as many people as possible to have a piece of the library with them.

When I found out that weekend we wouldn't be open to the public starting Monday, I thought "It's okay. This is temporary. Patrons can still access our digital library. This is an opportunity for me to knock out my overflowing list of non-urgent low-importance tasks." I raced a coworker in assembling supply carts. (I won). Book by book, I emptied a cart that had been filled since before I started working at the library - only to have someone come in and put more books on it within ten minutes. But still! For ten minutes there was an empty cart!

March 23rd, we were told it would be our last day in the building. At this point, I admit I panicked a little bit. I backed up every file I could possibly need. I stuffed project binders and half-finished escape room puzzles in a child's backpack meant to be an escape room prop. I checked out picture books and graphic novels and middle grade and YA and games until I hit the 100 item maximum.

In that moment, I didn't know how long we'd be working from home or what projects it would be most helpful for me to complete. In late March, there was a surge of trainings: how to work from home, how to host virtual programs, how to not panic (a much appreciated refresher).

When the dust settled, we found new roles for ourselves. I've found comfort in my new work routine. I log into Zoom for the first virtual program of the day. I answer reference emails from patrons. I check if my coworkers need anything. I film and publish videos. My cat sits in my lap. I drink tea in a cup instead of a sealed container because the library building rules about beverages don't apply to my home. (I'm such a rebel!)

Everything is going to be okay. Library staff is still here serving you. The way we serve you during this time is different and that's okay. I'm excited to have this opportunity to create digitial content for you and I look forward to the day when we can have patrons in the library again.

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