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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

One Step Forward, and Two Steps Back...



Yikes! It's been 6 weeks since my last post, and I'm starting to see why most blogs fizzle out after about 3-5 years....It takes time and creative energy to keep a blog going, and as I move forward in my career and and all the changes life has thrown at me lately, it's hard to find enough of either. 

When I first started this blog six years ago I was only working part-time, which left me plenty of time and energy for blogging, reading, and everything else, and as someone just entering the field I was full of enthusiasm and ideas. Now I'm full-time and too exhausted and screen-fatigued when I get home to do any reading or writing in the evenings, and seem to have hit a bit of a creative wall with programming. I've done so many storytimes in my career that while I still love doing it, I'm not as excited about writing them up and find myself repeating things I've done before more often. Frankly, I'm very underwhelmed by the picture books being published in the last year or so. I've seen nothing new that inspires me lately; the recent publications are often so text heavy and dull, IMHO, or just not suitable for storytime.

And to be perfectly honest, the last year and half have been extremely difficult for me on every level, and I'm sure that's true of everyone. I miss normal. I miss working in a thriving library. I miss my regulars. I miss doing regular programming. Most of all, I miss stability. At the beginning of the summer I was so excited because I could finally start having in-person programming again outdoors, and I really thought we were going to be back to normal, in-person programming again this fall. I started planning things, arranged to start outreach visits with nearby preschool, and then I began hearing that nasty word "Delta", and soon everything changed again.

Now we have had to step back and return to masks being required to be in the library, and programs are encouraged to be outside or reduced number to allow for social distancing inside. I agree with this under the circumstances, but as we are in a very anti-mask population, this means a lot more stress on staff and between that and school starting, a lot fewer families and kids coming in. I'm going to have to continue to have storytimes outside as long as possible, but once it gets too cold I don't know what I'll do. I've discussed it with my storytime crowd, and they told me what I already knew; they are absolutely not interested in virtual programming. Just after our monthly program guide was printed, we found we had to cancel or change a lot of things, which makes it confusing and frustrating for patrons.

All the back-and-forth and constant change is not only stressful for staff, but frustrating for patrons and causes less use of the library and lower program attendance. I'm afraid in the coming months we'll be taking another step back and reducing the number of computers available (for social distancing) and having to reimpose time limits, which is just as contentious to enforce as mask-wearing. I keep finding myself wishing for things to be like they were before and craving stability, for things to stay the same for more than a couple months, but I've come to realize libraries are likely forever changed by this, and it will likely take years to regain any sense of stability and community again. 

So what is your fall programming looking like at this point? Charging ahead with in-person programming? Returning to virtual and kits? Somewhere in between? Something else?