It’s been one year since COVID-19 shut down the United States and the world tentatively approaches it’s “new normal.” Let’s take this opportunity for “pandemic reflections,” and see how the year has impacted youth librarianship.
As my friend and co-blogger Abby wrote the other day, “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.” This month marks many anniversaries… the last in-person storytime, the last “busy” desk shift, the last school visit. I will forever remember working the weekend everything was shutting down. I printed out coloring sheets about washing hands and did a “germs are not for sharing,” storytime. This was all while anxiously awaiting updates from our director.
What followed was a government shut down, an abundance of family time, and new phrases like “six feet,” “social distancing,” and “mask up.” Emotions raged while we felt unessential, to feeling overly essential, to everywhere in between. Hiring freezes and furloughs hit libraries everywhere. Obligations shifted with individuals balancing taking care of themselves with virtual work, in-person work, and life’s other obligations.
The work-life balance scales tipped in a way one never could have imagined and have not stopped rocking back-and-forth. Wanting to serve library customers, and to keep yourself safe has produced many mixed emotions for library staff. There is no way to truly express in words the chaos and trauma of the past year.
Libraries are Not Going Anywhere If anything was proven in 2020, it’s that libraries aren’t going anywhere. Libraries showed the nation how many online resources they could offer and successfully operated through digital, curbside, and limited models. I will take this opportunity to thank all library staff for their hard work and for holding on throughout this year. YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!
Virtual Programming is Not Going Anywhere The pandemic pushed many library staff members out of their comfort zones to offer virtual programming. And while it might not always be ideal, it does allow for a new type of accessible programming. (I am doing an ALSC webinar on virtual programming development tomorrow, Thursday March 11 at 1 p.m. Central and you’re all invited.)
It’s time to Reevaluate EVERYTHING The world hit a giant PAUSE button and we are granted a unique opportunity as we make our new normal. What programs and library services are worth bringing back? What play areas are necessary? How can the updated environment be safer for everyone involved? It can be stressful to address these questions. But now is the time.
Libraries and life will never go back to 100% the way it used to be and it’s up to us to determine the future.
We can do it!
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: VI. Administrative and Management Skills and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.