Here it is. Here is my new normal. I work in a public library, but right now, I am working from home. On Friday, March 13th, we closed the library per our local government because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Isn’t that date appropriate? We are still closed today and what looks like most of April.
I used to spend my days working on our website, scheduling and posting on our social media and designing and distributing print materials. I also work with the public, A LOT. I help them during tech sessions, or help them find the right book, or just greet them and answer their questions. It is hands-down, the best job I have ever had. I do what I do for the people, or as we call them, patrons. I love being with them. I love exchanging opinions on good books (or bad ones). I especially love helping put patrons at ease when they need tech help or general information. It is a privilege.
So now what? Now, I work from home. I am by myself. Sounds great, right? Showing up to “work” in yoga pants and a hoodie while sipping coffee and listening to music. Sounds amazing right? Wrong. The silence is deafening, even with the music on. I feel like someone opened a trap door and I have fallen to the bottom of the ladder. I sit at home and have to plan how to reinvent my job. How do I reach people from my home? How can I help them?
Before that though, I had to undo all my hard work. I had to undo all the social media posts I schedule ahead of time. Think about 20 library events times 3 social media accounts times 3 different time slots for advertising every week. I can’t even do the math. It took two of us to take it all down. It was sad.
Then, the emails started pouring in. E-mails from patrons wanting to know about due dates, expired card renewals, why we locked the book drop or how they can download e-Books. Then e-mails from the administration with updates about from local government and what staff can do about their lost hours. Then librarians across the world emailing ideas and resources faster than I can even read them.
I wanted to slam the top of my laptop cover and run away. It felt like having little fires everywhere and not being able to put them out. Keep calm and carry on. Deep breath. Then something awesome happened. My heroes, librarians, swooped in to save the day. My co-workers started sending in ideas on how to stay in touch with patrons – Google Voice, chats, fun social media posts. I started a tech hotline using Google Voice so patrons could call in – and boy did they!! Some called in with quick questions and others were on the line with me for 50 minutes trying to download e-Books. One of our Board members started a Youtube channel and challenged friends to offer free story-times online. And yes, I contributed! And tonight I will be hosting my second online book discussion using Zoom.
So now what? Well, I am taking it one day at a time. I am receiving texts and e-mails (even phone calls) from patrons with kind words and well wishes. They comment on how much they miss the library but appreciate all the work we are doing behind the scenes. It makes this difficult time much more bearable. Thank goodness for that.
Until then, I have to put on a nice shirt and some makeup so I look presentable for the book discussion tonight. I have to try and get the dog to stop barking and slobbering on my face and make sure my husband isn’t joking around in the background while I sign into work. What a world. WHAT A WORLD!!