As we inch back towards “normal” (or the closest equivalent to normal that is possible), I’m marking another anniversary. Two years ago today I ran my last indoor in person storytime at 10:30 in the morning. By the mid afternoon, I was worrying about whether I should hold storytime the next day. By early evening, I had cancelled the storytime that was scheduled for March 12, 2020, and had put out publicity saying something along the lines of: “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to cancel all children’s programs at the library for the next few weeks. Thank you for your understanding!” On the morning of March 12 there were a couple of families who hadn’t read their email and showed up for storytime – families who were puzzled and perhaps a bit annoyed by the “abundance of caution” decree.
We all know what happened next: that the situation was far more serious than any of us had thought, and the world shut down. As I discussed in last year’s anniversary post, in late March of 2020 I switched to all virtual programming, which was a Herculean effort requiring 80 hours a week of work to adapt to the world of virtual programming (for any who wonder: no, children’s librarians don’t get paid overtime – at least this one doesn’t – and those extra 40 hours a week were unpaid and came from a place of me wanting to provide the best services possible to my beloved library peeps). Last summer I switched again, this time to outdoor programming, which I really love. I’ve continued with outdoor programming through the winter (yesterday 21 people attended my outdoor Mother Goose on the Loose storytime on a chilly morning with fresh snow on the ground!) and had planned to add in indoor programming starting in January…but then Omicron hit and put a huge wrinkle in those plans. Back came the virtual programming (blech) for half of my storytimes and all of my book groups. Though a great option to keep us all safe, it’s not really the programming option of choice anymore, and I can’t wait to pack up the lovely camcorder, tripod, microphone, and lights that I bought.
So what’s next? With very cautious optimism, I’m planning a return to indoor in person programming on April 4. All programs that have been virtual in the last few months will move to limited enrollment, pre-registration required indoor programs, with masks required for all participants over the age of two per vote of the library Trustees. (The outdoor storytimes will continue for those who feel safer outdoors.)
In late November and early December I allowed myself to get really excited about the planned return to indoor programs in January, and it was a real gut-punch and morale destroyer when I had to go back to virtual, so I’m not allowing myself to get excited this time around. I’m hopeful, I really am, but…but…but… what can I say? I’ll believe it when I see it? It will be great if it happens this time? Hopefully we’re headed on the right track? Only time will tell?
It’s been an exhausting two years, and when you couple pandemic programming and librarianship with me being in graduate school, let’s just say that I am pooped (and it also explains why I rarely post on my blog these days). Fingers crossed that we’re moving on to better times!