As Public, Academic, and School Libraries across the state face the current challenge of adapting to life during a pandemic, the physical and mental health of staff can appear secondary to making sure the services we are passionate about delivering can continue. However, the one thing in a library that we don’t list on our website under ‘Services’ or catalog in our collection, is probably the most important resource of all: the connection librarians make with each other and with patrons.
Especially for full time staff who may see their coworkers more hours during the week than their partners, it can feel like losing a vital piece of your support network when you are sent home to work remotely, or not at all. Not to mention missing out on those daily jokes from the older gentleman who uses one of the public computers, or the shy smile of the little girl who says you are her favorite storytime librarian, or the monthly book club ladies who ask about something going on in your life that you only mentioned once in passing. These daily interactions are the reason we do what we do, and being deprived of them can feel unexpectedly difficult.
But that is exactly why we must do everything we can to stay healthy and sane right now. The importance of these relationships is part of the reason many libraries have taken steps to distance their staff from their patrons and from each other. We want to protect each other and help each other stay healthy.
Nobody knows how to adapt like a librarian, and the ingenious ways library staff across New Hampshire have come up with to safely stay connected to the public are truly amazing! But if you are struggling with feeling like you aren’t doing enough, or are buckling under the pressure of doing all that you can to maintain business as usual in unusual times, this article offers some helpful reminders that may distill a bit of that stress.
So, read, pass it on, make another cup of coffee, and remember: We got into this profession because we care about others, but we mustn’t forget to take care of ourselves.
-Natalie Moser, Adult Programming Coordinator, Laconia Public Library