Staying Productive at Home

By Patrick Maloney

For the first time in my life, there is one singular thing looming in not only the mind of every American, but everyone in the world. Some of us are adapting to changes better than others, but with most Illinois libraries closed to the public or shut down altogether, it can be hard for us in library land to be thinking about anything else. If you’re anything like me, you haven’t stepped foot outside your house/apartment since you got the call that you didn’t have to come into work for three weeks, and you’re going a little stir crazy right about now. It’s hard not to feel useless when you’re stuck at home and not contributing anything, but I’ve found some activities that can help you keep your sanity through quarantine, and can make everything go a lot smoother when we all finally get back to work.

Reader’s Advisory
This one is pretty much a no brainer. If you work in a library, it’s probably pretty safe to assume that you enjoy reading. Naturally, when you have nothing but free time scheduled for the next few weeks, you’re probably going to be reading A LOT. By all means, I encourage you to read that title you’ve been excited about for months and just never found the time, but maybe take this time to step outside your comfort zone a little and get involved with a series or genre that you aren’t so familiar with. Personally, as someone who has worked in Reference/Adult Services for over a decade and has just recently accepted a position in Children’s Services, I’m taking this time for familiarize myself with more YA/Children’s books, and I’m enjoying them much more than I would have imagined. Don’t be caught like a deer in the headlights the next time a patron has an unusual request, get ahead of the curve today.

There are so many resources for library professionals on the internet that you could spend an entire quarantine on webinars alone and you still wouldn’t finish them all before you had to go back to work. Webinars are a big part of continuing education at both of my libraries, but there’s usually a very specific amount that we have to watch in a year, and admittedly, that’s usually where my interest in them stops. I never realized how much knowledge is out there for free, from really niche topics to creative ways of doing something you already do, its out there. A lot of webinars are live streaming events, but you can also find recordings of old ones as well. If there’s a library related topic you’ve always wondered about, now is the time to learn about it.

Group Chats
It can be hard to remember during social isolation that you aren’t doing this alone. Just because you aren’t in the same building doesn’t mean you can’t still collaborate with your coworkers. In my own anecdotal experience, it isn’t out of the question that you have your coworkers phone numbers, why not get a group chat going? You can talk about work, plan things out for when you all get back, or discuss strategies to best navigate these murky waters. It’s also nice just simply having someone to talk to being cooped up alone all day. Even if you don’t have each others numbers, there are plenty of ways to get in touch. Most social media or even an email chain will do. Get creative with it!

Don’t Even Bother
One thing I’ve learned the hard way to NOT even try to accomplish during quarantine is anything to do with programming. Everything is just too up in the air right now, and we don’t really have any concrete idea of when it’s going to be safe for large gatherings to happen again. Most presenters and/or off-site programming locations are not even interested in making any plans for an uncertain future at this time. It’s better to keep your ideas in your back pocket and use them when we have a clearer picture of what the future holds.

Right now the best thing any of us can do is stay home and wait for this all to blow over. Hopefully some of these suggestions will help you pass the time while you do so, with the added benefit of preventing total chaos by the time you finally get back to work. I’ll be once again including the links to the CDC and the Illinois Department of Health in case anyone still has any questions about the virus itself. Stay safe out there, and remember, we’re all in this together.


Illinois Department of Health:


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