Friday, September 4, 2020

Hello There: Pandemic Update #3

 How's it going for you in library land? Or classroom land or office land or virtual land or stuck-at-home land, wherever you happen to be? 

Abby, wearing a mask, poses with a cart of children's books pulled for Grab Bags

I don't have any big updates since my last pandemic update, which is in itself an update. We've settled into a lonely and depressed and anxious pattern here, which is not to say that things are all bad. It's just to say that if you're feeling some negative emotions about whatever you're doing right now, whatever your library is doing right now, you're not alone. 

Our schools started back up a couple of weeks ago and so far they are continuing a mix of in-person instruction and virtual. One struggle for our library staff in general is that we're a border town, so the situation is different in Indiana and in Kentucky. The Louisville public schools are completely virtual for now, which has been challenging for some of our staff who live there. 

One improvement we've made since school started back is that we've started a subscription to an online tutoring service and it's getting a lot of buzz in our community. After parents' struggles with virtual school in the spring, I knew we should look for some kind of virtual tutoring, so we're excited to see how this goes. Honestly, tutoring was a regular request from patrons at our library, so it was high time we took the plunge. We struggle sometimes with promoting use of digital services (especially database-type services, e-books do pretty well), so it's really nice that we're getting some nice buzz. 

I'm hopefully about to add about 10,000 digital library cards for the students in our public school system, too, which should be a great help for people. We did this last year, but we struggled with really getting the word out about it, so hopefully this will be our year to fully capitalize on the digital cards. 

My day to day looks much like it did in July. I'm in the library every day and splitting my time between my office (when my officemates are working from home) and a meeting room so that I don't have to wear a mask all day. I know the day will come when work from home stops and I'll have to get used to wearing a mask all the time, but I'm taking my behind-the-scenes privileges where I can right now!

My general routine is to start each day pulling books and putting holds on our Grab Bag requests. This is one of the few things I am doing right now that I can see makes a difference, so it's a nice way to start my day. It is a very concrete activity in that I get to interact directly with patrons via email and I get to pull books that are going into their hands. Most of the new books I'm ordering right now are just sitting on shelves no one can browse, so while I know that will make a difference at some point or to a few people who place advance holds, it's really helpful to have something more concrete. 

One of the book display fixtures we've moved from the Children's Room to the front lobby. This one is filled with fall books and I call it the Pumpkin Spice Display.

Our library is still working very hard at providing curbside service and we've opened our lobby for limited browsing. That means that we've moved a bunch of our New Book collections and places some genre and topical displays in the front lobby that patrons can browse. We've also moved computers to the front of the building and are offering computer use by appointment (and drop-in as long as we've got a computer available). 

A friend and library colleague of mine Tweeted the other day about the cognitive dissonance between being in a helping, public position and being afraid to get too close to people (the public, for sure, but also coworkers). That really hit home with me and put words to the feelings I'm having, too. I miss my coworkers, but don't want to endanger myself or anyone else by starting to meet in person or dissolving our work teams and bringing the entire staff back into the building. 

Luckily, I am not the person who has to make any of those kinds of decisions for our library. So I will just keep on keeping on and doing what I can do to help our community and keep everyone as safe as possible. 

How are things where you are?