Returning Home!

DeHoff librarians greeting visitors on the first day reopening.

Just like my first day a little over a year ago, I felt nervous butterflies mixed with excitement on the Monday of re-opening. Questions sprinted through my mind on my drive in: Did I do a good job preparing my team? Do we have the signage and PPE that we need? Would my community be eager to see us again? Did I forget something? Like every new experience since the realities of Covid began, I was entering another “new normal,” which is equally ground-breaking and anxiety-producing. In many ways, the first day of re-opening was like the first day on a new job filled with nervous (yet excited) energy, new workflows to learn, and slightly unfamiliar policies and procedures to process.

Once my team arrived and began settling in, it became apparent that we were ready to embark on this journey together. The thoughtful hours of preparation from the admin team, support departments, and branch staff resulted in a well-prepared and successful experience. As patrons began to flow into the building, we found that our desire to serve was in full force. We had the skills, scripting, and protections to slightly modify our old ways of doing things to offer a safer, and in many ways superior, service experience. Community members expressed their gratitude for the ways we were protecting them, showed excitement at seeing our faces again, and thoroughly enjoyed being able to use our technology and services to meet their needs.

 As I sat on the front porch at DeHoff checking people in, numerous cars drove by honking their horns and waving. People yelled out their windows, “Are you open?” and “I’m so happy you’re back!” A man walked by with his dog and stopped to chat awhile (from a safe distance away). Familiar patrons stopped by to say hello, chat about a book they’d just read, or ask if they could pop in to refill their water. It provided the perfect opportunity for me to explain how our mission— to spark curiosity and foster knowledge by connecting everyone to resources, services, and opportunities—was as strong as ever; we’re still meeting these needs with additional safety.

I’m happy to report that our first day re-opening for Phase Three was a success. In a way, it felt like returning home after an unexpected and prolonged journey. We returned to the comforts of librarianship and public service. Granted, some things have changed—we wear masks, we sanitize more often, we are more conscientious of maintaining physical distance—but in all of the important ways, our commitment to the community, the enthusiasm of sharing a great book, and the compassion and trust built between ourselves and our patrons has remained consistent.

I’m looking forward to seeing how our relationships and services evolve over the next few months and year. Mostly, however, I’m enjoying this journey and excited to continue discovering new ways to serve.