I missed posting last month; my regularly scheduled day was November 2, but I was without power or internet. I’m a resident of the Jersey shore, and our area was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. I was unable to return to work until November 12 (two of our branches remain unopened), and the barrier island that I call home is still uninhabitable; accessible only during limited daylight hours, and regulated by local, state, and federal authorities. Rather than post about library service to children today, I feel compelled to tell you why I love our profession.
– the outpouring of support from my coworkers has been overwhelming – clothing for me and my family, offers of practical assistance, leads on available accommodations, even a fancy bottle of Spanish liqueur have made it to my desk
– parents of children who join me in storytime have called and stopped in to express concern and offer help (one person even donated an air mattress for my daughter to use in our temporary housing location)
– my branch manager worked my night shift and our teen librarian worked my Saturday while my family scrambled to find a place to live (bless them both!)
– several children’s authors have called, emailed, and in general, offered sympathetic ears, continued concern, and support
– a popular library performer for children has offered to do free shows in our area to lift the spirits of storm-weary residents
– as we are helped, we also help each other; our branches have taken in displaced coworkers from closed branches and offered additional activities for local children when schools were closed or power was still out in some areas
– nothing is more uplifting than helping someone else in a similar or worse situation – we’ve provided cell phone charging areas, extra laptop computers for filing FEMA claims, and information and assistance in dealing with insurance companies and governmental agencies
– out-of-state libraries have contacted our hard-hit library system with offers of support, and listservs buzz with concern and offers from the library community at large
All of this is not to say that other professions and communities are not equally caring. Believe me when I say that I have seen the best in many people during this trying period; but when times are difficult, people turn to the library. We don’t need to “gear up “ to be helpful; it’s what we do – every day. In trying times, we just do it better. We’re not just a place of information, but a place of warmth, caring, and trust. Recovery here will take a long time, and we’ll be here – every day. I’m proud of us.