Positivity While Under Quarantine

By Olivia Buck

Right about now, I feel like a lot of us are feeling a bit…overwhelmed. Everyone is talking about COVID-19 and many of us are sheltering-in-place. This whole thing is pretty scary, but I think some of us are looking for even small things to help us keep a positive attitude. One way that I’ve tried to keep my positive attitude going has been to be careful about how I think about the quarantine and working from home. It would be really easy to get frustrated that I can’t work on certain projects right now or that I’m stuck at home all day everyday. But instead, I’ve been telling myself, “Look at this opportunity to work on projects you never have time for!” I’ve been putting together a digital copy of our home delivery patrons’ requests so that they’re easier to keep track of and I’ve been able to research and brainstorm ideas for new ways to connect with and serve my home delivery patrons. And this is just week one for us.

I’ve also been able to devote more time to some non-home delivery projects that I’m part of. These have included:

● Working with my fellow Bookmobile Drivers on a new project for our Bookmobile, Big B.
● Working on clearing up various lists and reports.
● Following up with presenters that were scheduled for our Bloomington Reads program which was scheduled for late March and early April.
● Working on projects for our Spirit Committee which creates events that contribute to staff morale and working together.

Finally, I’m seeing many of my coworkers try to connect with each other using Microsoft Teams so that we can all learn how to do this whole “work from home” thing together. I think we’re all just wanting to stay connected and keep a smile on our faces while we’re working from home. So, sometimes this means that people are sharing links on how to stay productive while working from home. And sometimes it’s people sharing their quarantine playlists for their work hours, posting about the delicious foods they’re making, or posting pictures of their new office mates. Here’s a couple pictures of mine:

Finally, I’ve been thinking about my favorite patron interactions that I’ve had since becoming a library employee. I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful moments I’ve gotten to have by serving our community. This is the one that always brings a smile to my face:

A boy came up to the Circulation desk with a stack of books to check out. He was probably around six or seven years old and his face barely reached the top of the Circulation desk when standing on his tiptoes. He watched me as I picked up his books and placed them on the scanner. His eyes grew wide and his whole face lit up when he heard the ding of his items getting checked out.

“How does the computer know that [the book] is there? And how does it know which one it is?” He asked, waving a hand at the book with excitement.

“There are special tags inside the book that tell the computer what book it is and that allows us to check it out,” I explained as I opened the book up and showed him the RFID tag inside the book. While I continued to check out his books, the little boy watched, completely entranced by the computer that knew the names of the books and that he wanted to read them. Finishing up with his books, I passed them over to him and a grin spread across his cheeks.

As he left with his mother, he cheered, “Librarians are magic!”

The way that I think about this crazy period of time when the library is closed and I’m working from home makes a huge impact on my attitude. So I keep reminding myself that libraries are magic.


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.

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Illinois Department of Health: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-andconditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus