Self-isolation, social distancing, lockdown, PPE, new words we have been exposed to in these past few weeks – apologies for the pun. At the time of writing this librarian is officially in the third week of lockdown. We are all experiencing a moment in history, unless you were around in 1918 – the last time the world experienced a pandemic this big - the Spanish Flu as it is commonly known. Now there is a new way of visiting your local supermarket – masks and gloves and long lines of waiting. There’s plenty of time while waiting in line to reflect on ‘how did we get to this point?’
But it isn’t all bad. Taking some exercise in the form of a walk – locally of course, you are not alone. While walking there are many others doing the same thing. One has to side step your fellow walkers to keep the two metre social distancing rule. Strangers wave or say hi, an unusual social etiquette in Auckland! Families in their bubbles take their dog for a walk, their kids for a walk spotting those bears in windows, letterboxes. Not all of these bears are committed to the social distancing rule – too many clustered together in windows, but they can be forgiven. They are giving joy and hope in troubled times. There’s lots to do in isolation – baking, reading, Netflix, skyping your relatives – so much to do on social media. Which brings me to YouTube. I discovered Brad from Texas, a musician writing parody songs about the virus. Yesterday by the Beatles has a whole new meaning. I’m quite a fan!
Of course there are negative consequences to self-isolation – loneliness.
Public libraries are a ‘third place’ and for those who are homeless a ‘second place’. We are closed. So how do we still serve our customers? Older patrons who don’t have Internet or Facebook and many, as I have experienced, can’t even access public library eCollections. I was heartened to hear that Auckland library staff are helping out contacting thousands of citizens over 70 to check on their welfare. While in my own self-isolation I have kept in contact with my colleagues. We have done this through the usual avenues, email mostly but also using the free WhatsApp. This is proving to be a great way to communicate, providing us with a way to have a conversation. In this moment in time many of us (librarians) are probably taking the opportunity to do some professional development as part of our self-isolation to-do list. LIANZA has been very helpful for this.
We are serving our patrons as best we can, contributing ideas for the family to do while in lock down through our Facebook page, promoting our library eResources, and The Coalition for Books storytime collaboration with public libraries facilitated by LIANZA.
I’m looking forward to going back to work, to the job I love and the community our public library serves. I’m hoping that will be sooner not later. But time will tell.
There are two Māori proverbs that express the situation we are all in: Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi (With your basket and my basket the people will live), referring to co-operation and He waka eke noa (A canoe which we are all in with no exception), refers to we are all in this together.
I started working in community libraries in 2009 as a children’s librarian in a job share position at Manurewa Library in Auckland. My previous working life was teaching in the public and private sector. I began studying library papers through Open Polytechnic in 2005 and continued on while at Manurewa Library completing a Bachelor of Arts Humanities and Information & Library Studies in 2016. I am now LIANZA registered. Currently I work at Howick Library in Auckland as their Librarian Program & Events person.