Library Life: COVID-19

Library Life: COVID-19

I have lived a quarter of a century, which is really not a long time. But in those 25 short years, a lot has happened in terms of health, safety, and fear. 

In my short life, we have faced SARS, MERS, H1N1, Swine Flu, Ebola, (am I missing anything?), and now COVID-19. I mention Ebola because it actually found its way to Ohio, specifically Northeast Ohio, where I have lived my entire life (read about it here).

I’m an anxious person. There’s no way around it. And nothing really hypes my anxiety quite like ambiguity. Every time a new disease has emerged, my anxiety spikes and I begin a spiral of “what if’s?”. 

I’m a pretty healthy individual with a solid immune system, but I still worry about getting sick. I also worry about unknowingly carrying a disease and giving it to other people, especially those who do not have strong immune systems and/or have underlying conditions that could make it difficult for them to fight off a virus.

From SARS to Ebola, I have felt like this. Now we’re actively facing COVID-19. In the United States, it has found it’s way to Ohio, starting initially in the county right by mine. Then it made its way to another nearby county. Finally, it made it to my county. Things suddenly felt so real. I had been slowly preparing for this once I saw how quickly it spread through China and Italy, but I never expected for our mayor to declare a state of emergency for anything except snow.

Yet here we are.

With COVID-19 in my home city with 2 confirmed cases, and who knows how many unconfirmed ones, everything is going into emergency mode. Governor DeWine has called for schools, restaurants, gyms, etc. to close, as well as encouraging social distancing.

It seems some people take it seriously, yet there were many people out at the bars over the weekend to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

But let’s move on to libraries. Over the weekend, they started closing one by one. From major city libraries like Toledo Public Library, to smaller ones, like Stow-Munroe Falls Library. Most libraries announced they would be closed on Monday, March 16. Today. 

My library was one of the last to announce its plans to close. We will be closed starting Wednesday, March 18. Until then, we are open and running business as usual. 

Working in a public library during this time has been… stressful… for a handful of reasons.

  1. The schools. 
    • With the schools closed, where will the kids have WiFi to do their homework on their Chromebooks? The library! Except…we’re closing too.
      • Thankfully, Internet providers are helping by offering temporary internet service to these kids.
  2. Germs
    • Every time someone coughs, everyone else tenses up. Myself included. I’ve been anxious every day at work, worrying that I’m bringing something home or that I’m sharing it with one of my patrons.
  3. Guilt
    • I think the majority of library staff want to do everything they possibly can for the public. I have a fierce love of the neighborhood I work in. I feel horrible that we’re closing our doors for the next few weeks, but I know it is what is safest for staff and patrons. Still, I’ll miss doing my Saturday programs, my school outreach, and my morning story times. I’ll also miss saying hello to each kid that comes in afterschool for a snack and activity. I didn’t think drawing with pastel chalks and showing the kids cursive would be the last time I would see them for this school year.
  4. Information
    • I’m an information professional. I have been answering a lot of questions about COVID-19, mostly to the kids afterschool who were full of questions and misunderstandings. This is where it gets tricky for me. I have to mask my anxiety and find it in myself to be brave and present facts in a way that will not overwhelm the kids, but rather, help them understand why social distancing, hand washing, etc. are so important.
    • Misinformation and disinformation have also been a struggle. Please check sources before posting that COVID-19 is just the flu, because it is not the flu. 

I don’t know what will happen next. Ohio has taken big steps to try to prevent a massive epidemic. I hope it will be enough. I hope the library doors will open in three weeks and that we can start to find a rhythm again. 

Above all, I hope that we can keep each other safe. 

I’ll miss my job, kids, everything. But for the next few weeks, I’ll be home with my kitty, deep cleaning, reading lots of books, and practicing some in-house yoga.

Be safe out there, friends! 

Thanks for reading!

-Syl

Update: Obviously a novel virus is incredibly scary, as I discussed previously. I have a great deal of anxiety about that, but also… I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the realization that I won’t be working for 3 or so weeks. I guess I never realized how much of my identity was “librarian”.  At the moment, it feels like a part of me is gone, and it’s such a surreal, uncomfortable feeling…

9 thoughts on “Library Life: COVID-19

    1. I hope you close too! It’s a real safety concern. We’re currently open, and Ohio is up to 50 confirmed cases, with several more being tested.
      Thankfully, we are being paid while the library is shut down.

      Like

  1. I hope everything works out Syl, and that you stay well during this time. It is really difficult at the moment and things are changing so quickly. I work at a university, so lots of things are up in the air here, too. I am going to be working at home from Thursday.

    Take care, and I hope you get a lot of rest and reading done in the coming weeks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Stephen! Take care of yourself as well and be careful out there. I’m glad you’ll be able to work from home.
      I’m planning on doing plenty of reading and work stuff. It’s definitely hard, but hopefully things will be better in a few weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Stay safe where you are.
      We started by suspending events and outreach. Today was the last day. I’m feeling all the feels right now. Nearly cried walking out the doors.

      Liked by 1 person

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