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The Great Unknown

It’s a sunny afternoon here after a week of rainy days. The trees and flowers are blooming, a new month is beginning, and it’s starting to feel like Spring. There are lawn chairs outside of the hardware store and runners jogging along the sidewalks. However, despite these familiar signs, this season is unlike any we’ve ever known. The runners are wearing face masks, the lawn chairs are curbside pickup only, and our town’s offices, schools, and library have been closed for weeks. In the present moment, and for the indefinite future, we exist in the great unknown.

As a profession, we’ve heeded the call to close our buildings in the name of public health, in the aim of flattening the curve, and in the best interests of our staff, customers, and communities. As a profession, we’ve struggled with these closures, carrying the knowledge that our work is first and foremost people work, and that libraries are a lifeline to many, far beyond what can be quantified via circ stats and door counts. Library staff across the nation and the world activated in response to the pandemic and collaborated to innovate and adapt on a moment’s notice, in order to ensure that services, support, and community would be available to our customers remotely. Storytime, bingo, and trivia moved online. Budgets were reallocated to increase funding for digital collections and educational programs and resources. All reference became virtual reference. All services became virtual services.

Here in the great unknown, each day brings more questions. Now that we’re here, what’s next? What will the phased reopening of our communities look like? When will it be safe to provide library services in person, either curbside, or in our library buildings? How will we plan and prepare?

Right now, there are more questions than answers. As we look for ways to connect with our friends, families, and communities, let us reach out knowing we are in the great unknown together. Let us connect on common ground, offer our gratitude and support to all on the front lines of this crisis, and have the conversations we need to have to be ready to open our doors when it is safe to do so.

When you’re ready to open, we’re ready to help.

At Equinox, we too are facing these questions and having these conversations, among staff, colleagues, and customers. When you’re ready, we are here and ready to talk with you, to plan and prepare with you, and to consider together how to ease the next transitions ahead for libraries.

Be Safe. Be Well. Be in Touch.

Lisa Carlucci
Executive Director
Equinox Open Library Initiative
May 11, 2020

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