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Three On Thursday

Did you know it’s National Library Week? Yeah. Kind of a dud this year given that libraries across the country are closed. I’m hearing from a lot of people who miss going to the library . . . and I don’t just mean my colleagues and I! If anything it’s giving me a good feeling to know that libraries are as relevant as always, even when we are exclusively virtual.

Here are 3 things libraries are doing right now to make a difference:

  1. Making collections available virtually. You can read the first Harry Potter book right now with no restrictions. You can access Ancestry from home. You can read magazines and listen to audiobooks and download ebooks. I realize some of this varies depending on your library’s budget but if my rural library community has these things I’m betting yours does, too.
  2. Using 3-D printers to create PPE. This is a case where my library isn’t involved (no 3-D printer for us) but libraries around us and across the country are helping out by making face shields and mask straps. It’s an amazing thing to see technology repurposed and used to make a difference.
  3. This last one is a catch all of all the fantastic things libraries are doing: extending due dates, encouraging people to use WiFi in their parking lots, offering online programming and virtual events, relaxing rules around obtaining a virtual library card, using social media to engage patrons, and sharing resources and information from trusted sources.

I wish I could tell you that my library is doing all of those things but last week my entire staff, with the exception of myself, was furloughed. It was (and still is) a difficult time for all of us as we are a close group of 10 coworkers and we miss each other and our library patrons very much. I had a Zoom meeting last Thursday and gave my best effort at encouraging and uplifting all of them, hoping that this time will be over soon, and offering my best advice for navigating the unemployment process, but I was heartbroken and they were, too. These days when I’m at the library I’m there by myself and it’s very very quiet, something people always think is true of a library but generally isn’t true at all.

Ironic, isn’t it?

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. I didn’t know you were a librarian! I’m definitely missing my library and my librarians – they were almost the only adult socialization I was getting before the pandemic. This is such a difficult time for everyone. I’m wishing you and your staff well!!

  2. I think closing libraries will have effects that we have no way to measure now, but I am so proud of all the libraries and librarians across the US who are still serving patrons in such a hopeful and successful way. I hope your staff is able to return soon, Carole.

  3. I live in a small town in the Appalachians. Our library is wonderful. It is small with two kind caring librarians. I miss it more than anything. Huge part of my life.

  4. I’m so sorry you and your library have been hit so hard. I was talking to a friend recently and we were discussing how long it might be before feeling like using the actual library might feel safe. Any thoughts on what reopening might look like? Does your library offer a virtual reading group right now? Just pondering if that might be feasible.

  5. So sorry to hear your library is struggling! It’s so sad! Ours is closed too.
    I actually became a member of our local library just a week before the lockdown. Normally, when we move, I’m a member of the library as soon as we’re in the house, sometimes even before that, but the only one we have on the island is a long way from our house, so it took me a while to get there.
    I’m really glad I chose my books carefully (I was allowed only four, so I got books to study local medicinal plants, local history, and massage techniques). I think these will be at my house for a long time…

  6. My local library has been innovative and encouraging. And promoting its virtual services (including wifi in the parking lot). I can’t wait to be able to gather there again for my book club–the virtual meetings are not the same.

  7. Every day I give thanks for Libraries. When I look back on the influence my local library has had on my life, it is profound. When I was a child – my library offered books, inspiration to read, and a safe place to visit. And, when I was a working single mother, it provided a place that my kids could go to get their homework done while I finished my work day. And moving to a new community – my local library became a place where I could meet my neighbors! My heart breaks for your staff, however I am glad you are still working. XO

  8. Our library started online children’s story times recently (hooray for parents home with littles who also need to try to do a job!), and a nearby library district has always had ‘dial a story.’ I really appreciated that option when my kids were 3 & 4 years old. The phone option was like a short audio book, read by the same librarian who lead story time, and there was no screen involved. Just listening.
    Do we ever love our libraries & librarians and can’t wait til we can all walk through the doors again.

  9. I am so sorry to hear about your library staff. I understand the economics but it’s still a terrible blow. Thanks to you, your staff, and all of the library workers around the country for providing wonderful services in the best way they can, no matter what.

  10. I miss my library too. I am checking out things electronically but it isn’t the same. I have added books to my request list because they are sequels to ones I just finished but not available online. My kids are missing the library too. Lots of time to read with a limited book supply as most of the books they want to read aren’t online either. I even “stocked up” the last day the library was open. I understand the need for safety but I miss getting my books.

  11. I am so sorry to hear about the furloughs. I know what an important resource libraries are for so many, especially now, but I also know that funding is always an issue. I can only hope that as people are relying on their public libraries more than ever now, they’ll remember what a valuable commodity they are and make sure they are well funded when the economy recovers.

  12. I am so sorry to hear about your staff. I hope they will be eligible for the unemployment assistance. That has been such a driver for me because my teachers are all part time so if we didn’t find a way to keep delivering education online, they would not have qualified.
    I am also a big library supporter. Our library is doing an online fund drive and I am heading right over to show my support with my wallet.

  13. Oh wow! I am so very sorry to hear about your staff Carole. What a shame. I sure hope this whole mess/nonsense is over soon. It is taking a toll on so many. Thank you for all that you and your library are doing.

  14. This is such sad news. I pray your staff is back before we know it. The library is quiet in our town too but I think the librarian is doing a great job of engaging on line and trying to make the best of it and we appreciate that!

  15. I’m so very sorry Carole. I know how much you love your library and your staff. This had to have been heart wrenching for you. Love you!!

  16. This is so sad! I am sorry you’re going through this and you alone are the only person at your library. I’m not sure what is happening with the libraries in our County, but they are on FB and have been posting info like crazy and I’ve been able to get many audiobooks. I rarely use an e-reader but they surely have many titles available. This is a very hard time for SO many people. Take heart, dear friend.

  17. I will add my condolences about your library staff. I think there are a million sadnesses occurring as a result of this pandemic. Libraries are so very important to our communities. Thanks for all you do.

  18. Oh Carole – I am so sorry for your staff (and you). Libraries are such an important part of our communities and our society. and I love what Jane said about “a million sadnesses”. xoxo.

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