This past weekend, I was asked by the Public Information Director at our library if I’d like to participate in a social media campaign for #NationalLibraryWeek. This campaign involved taking a photo holding a specific word. Each staff member who volunteered received a different word and these words and photos were assembled to create a collage. I thought this was a great idea, and I submitted a photo of me holding the word “for” in front of my black cat, Harry. Two other members featured pets in their photos and two featured one of their kids.
After seeing this wonderful, creative tribute to the faces behind our library, I wanted to get involved in another way to promote National Library Week. I read an email by NYLA (New York Library Association) that offered some suggestions. One of them was for librarians to create and post a video on social media about why they became a librarian. It took some thinking and several attempts before I recorded something suitable with my iPhone. Since I had to keep it short, a maximum of one minute, I couldn’t say all the things I wanted to, so I figured I’d write a blog post that would share the video and also my additional feelings about being a librarian and how proud I am of how my library and others across the country are dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic and finding alternate ways to serve patrons.
My library already offered many online services, but if you check the website, you’ll see that we have ramped these up. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that caused us to temporarily close our physical doors to the public, we have opened virtual ones by adding links to information about Coronavirus and our free digital resources that include research databases, downloadable ebooks and audiobooks through Overdrive; downloadable magazines through RB Digital; downloadable movies through Kanopy; online classes through Gale Courses, and more. We have also made it simple for patrons to obtain digital library cards, so they can use our online services. Another new addition is a chat line manned Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by a reference librarian. As a notary public, I will also soon be offering e-notarizations. Further details will be posted on our website.
Checking our Facebook page, you will find listings of many of our regular programs that are now being offered remotely through Zoom and taught by some of the regular instructors. This page also lists other online resources and articles as well as staff picks book reviews, all of which are available free through Overdrive.
Since I work full-time at the library and am also a Hicksville patron, I’ve been happy to contribute to as well as take advantage of these online offerings that I normally couldn’t during my regular work hours. For instance, I recently attended Fran Cohen’s wonderful book discussion on Where the Crawdads Sing. It was a nice coincidence that I had read this book as an ebook I’d downloaded from Overdrive during my time home and submitted a staff pick for it. I also hope to attend Linda Cafiero’s Virtual Meditation program on Friday, May 1.
I know that other libraries across the country are doing many of the same things as mine, and it makes me even more proud of being a librarian. When I graduated from the Palmer School of Library and Information Science in 1989, the Internet was in its infancy. There were no smart phones or programs such as Zoom or Skype where people could see one another when they connected. Library Indexes were huge volumes that took up precious space. We’ve come a long way and even though we are all suffering during this pandemic, we are blessed with the technology that affords us the ability to keep in touch with one another and with the world. We applaud the frontline health workers who are dealing with this crisis by risking their lives, but librarians are on a front line of a different kind by their responsibility to provide information and resources to help people cope with the challenges that the Coronavirus has posed – the feelings of isolation, boredom, and fear.
We hope to be serving patrons in person again soon when the country opens up and things are safe. For now, we will use the new tools of our profession to keep our virtual doors open.