I cringe with this title, because, hopefully, the majority of these readers work somewhere that is supplying gloves, masks, and face shields in this public health crisis.
But, I know better to hope for basic essentials.
Instead, I wanted to talk about the PPE that lives in each and every one of us and is currently required for doing library work in a pandemic. It’s our emotional self and reserve that we need to use daily, sometimes hourly, to protect ourselves from the wear and tear of this job.
- P- People skills:
- Knowing how and when to defuse escalating situations.
- Giving service with a smile. (Even when it’s a snark hidden under a mask)
- Using a touch of humor to connect with patrons.
- Remembering that you can still safely connect with patrons through your sanitation shields.
- Meeting different users where they are- whether from 6 feet away or a screen away or somewhere in between.
- This job is TOUGH. So tough. There are many hard rules, hard interactions, hard patrons, hard days, hard weeks, and so many hard, hard months. You need those people skills to succeed in our jobs now, you need to know how to communicate with all types of patrons, and where you shine and where you might need some growth. This will help you weather this storm.
- Living in this moment that is out of control and erratic and has no end date in sight.
- Remembering that everyone is struggling and this is a chaotic time for all, so we might not be seeing THE best behavior (But your safety and well being is very important to me and to all of us! #ProtectLibraryWorkers)
- People have different views, feelings, and opinions regarding this pandemic, and all you can focus on is your own.
- This is not a time for answers. There are a million questions, and nothing firm to answer for them. We are all trying.
- Your employer is making mistakes! Big mistakes! You are making mistakes! Big mistakes!
- You are doing your best, serving your community, and that is really admirable!
- This is not the job that you signed up for. You miss the kiddos. You missing being paid to sing and dance for an adoring crowd of fans! You miss helping a kid find that special book, or chatting to parents as their kids play, or whatever memory that brings you the warm and fuzzies. But, there are still things to enjoy! Find what you can love in this new world of work.
- A new challenge! This is an opportunity that was never there before. We know that statistically there are huge groups of potential patrons that the physical building never reaches. This might be an opportunity to reach or find!
- Children’s library staff are the most creative people in the world (I am slightly biased) and we are already thinking of super clever ways of getting the attention of our missed youth and families like book bundles, chalk challenges, I spys in building windows, craft kids, etc. We reinvented reinventing the wheel. We will figure out how to spark joy in our communities and ourselves!
- Remember we are all in this together, and we all want to feel like we are making a difference and serving our community the best we can, even if it just means showing up.
We need all these skills and so much more. I think we all know what a weird time this is, and how different our lives and jobs are right now. And yet, I remain so continually amazed at my staff, peers, and colleagues who are back to work (or never left!) and have found ways to flourish in a hard time. It reminds me that I too can survive this, and I think we all need to be reminded of that every once in a while.
What other PPEs do we need? I’m sure that I am forgetting many–since sadly Sleep and Focus are not mentioned as Emotional PPE- even though they are essential!