Adjusting to this new normal is taking time

I used to know my customers by their faces and their books. Now I know them by their cars.

Customers cannot browse at any Pima County Public Library, though they can go inside for some services. The Sahuarita Library building is completely closed to customers. And I don’t like it.

Our customers can return books into the outdoor book drop. Then, after donning face mask and disposable gloves, I can run their books from the hold shelf to their waiting vehicles and place them in the back.

We watch out our windows for customers to pull into a designated parking space. From there, they follow directions on a sign to text us their name, library card number and the spot they are in. Real-time texting. It’s fun. And impersonal. And I don’t like it.

But, there are bright spots.

The best part of my workday is an opportunity for a brief conversation with a car’s occupants, shouted in from back-bumper distance.

As a children’s services Library Associate, I miss Storytime, crafting and talking to young people about books. Getting to chat with one of my Storytime goers as he sits buckled into the back seat of the family minivan highlights my day. He and his mom recently read together My Father’s Dragon. That book went on my list.

An elementary-aged daughter of a frequent-user family said “Hi, Jeannie” as I dropped off their books. It made my day! A new baby arrived for one frequent-user family during the the Library's closure. Seven-weeks old on her first trip to the library. The future is bright for story time! Whenever that time returns.

But customers want to use a computer. They want to fax documents. They want to come in to relax and read the newspaper. None is possible. And I don’t like it.

Sahuarita Library is a small space. Five staff members working in the building do a social distancing dance that’s almost laughable. We keep our sanity because we know construction on a bigger space is under way. Will the Coronavirus have an impact when it’s ready to open?

I’ve always believed that a library is the best of all customer service jobs. We strive to provide what’s needed for all who walk through our doors.

Adjusting to this new normal is taking time.  The process is difficult, fluid and evolving daily.

Change is good. During these crazy times, we learn to go with the flow of it.

We don’t have to like it, but it’s what we’ll do to see each other through to better times.

by Jeannie, Sahuarita Library