I miss my job

These Covid-19 days, I am mourning the job for which I was hired.

Even as I shelve books, wrap them for mailing, ferry them to the curb, I miss being a children’s librarian; miss interacting with kids and families; miss helping them with reading and educational activities; miss sharing my skills and experience in story times and book baby sessions; miss doing outreach to schools, pre-schools and day care programs; miss being greeted by children’s smiles, by their excited shouts when the kids saw me, “Miss Karen, Miss Karen, oh, Miss Karen!”

In my twenty years of experience as a librarian, service has always been my motivation, and, indeed, I was hired by the Iowa City Public Library to serve the needs of young families. Prior to the pandemic, I looked forward to welcoming families each Friday to our baby program. I provided interactive literacy, gave tips to moms and dads and encouraged families to engage with their babies, even as I created a fun and safe environment for them at the library. I appreciated the wonder and love in babies’ eyes when they saw me, and I enjoyed watching the development of those babies in subsequent weeks and months. For their part, parents, grandparents and caregivers soon came to understand the importance of bringing babies to the library weekly, to share the gift of early literacy, to connect with friends and make new friends, even to form strong and lasting relationships with one another and with the library itself.

While I am grateful for my job, grateful to the support of the city over these last several months, I do mourn the loss of what was, even as I must acknowledge it and move on. On any given day, I couldn’t wait to help our patrons, to provide a smile and a snack to the many kids we knew by name who visited us, sometimes daily. I think of them now, and I can only hope that they are staying well.

I tell myself that all of this is temporary, that what’s important right now is to protect one another, to look to a day when worry is no longer a partner; a mask no longer needed; the threat of losing loved ones, of friends, a memory; the many already lost, those who yet will be, themselves to be remembered and never forgotten.

In the meantime, we are still here for our patrons, and we will continue to serve them as best we can, whether it’s online, at the curb or through the mail, my own heart warmed, my resolve strengthened by messages from patrons who are so happy to again receive and read books, let alone music, movies, craft kits, all the things that make our library their library.

Some semblance of normal will return some day, and even as we will retain some of the old normal, the new normal will have revealed new ways of serving our patrons. We who work here can only be better and stronger for that then, and, by our efforts, so will the library itself, its future, and I myself pray to be part of that future.

As for our patrons, I miss you all very much, and I hope you are doing well, that you and your families stay well. We here at your library remain committed to you, and we will continue to meet our community’s needs while keeping all of you safe, while looking to the day when we can again be social without being distanced; can again meet in groups; can, if we want, hug one another, and, for that moment, forget the weeks, the months we lived in fear, a time that asked so much of all of us.

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Ben, Calvin, and I miss you oh so much at Book Babies!!! Calvin is 16 months old now.

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