Finding your place – National Library Week in the time of COVID

When I first began planning our National Library Week (NLW) celebrations at the beginning of the year, I never could have imagined how different our lives would be in just four short months. Instead of on my computer in my office at work, this post was written on an old spiral-bound notebook leftover from college. Sitting in the floor of my basement while my toddler played on a makeshift slide and my husband sat in on a conference call, I wrote this in fits and starts, attempting to corral my thoughts in between helping my daughter up from a fall or applauding a particularly daring maneuver. And I’m not the only one. Many of you are in the same boat, possibly reading this while your child naps or in-between taking your dog (who is so excited you’re home that he just has to go for ten walks a day) for walks. Even still, we know we’re the lucky ones. My husband and I still have employment and my family is healthy. Many people can’t say the same.

As NLW approached, I began to think more and more about what this year’s theme actually meant. “Find your place at the library.”

Arguably some of the Law Library’s strongest assets are found in our physical space: access to proprietary databases like Westlaw, tens of thousands of law books, our teleconferencing equipment that allows subscribers to interview witnesses across the country or clients incarcerated in another county.

But even without those physical things, we still have knowledge and access to information. We have trained librarians who are still here, researching legal questions and tracking down resources. We are collecting and disseminating information about the courts, about the law, about the pandemic when appropriate and even more lighthearted content when we just need a break.

We began working with every single institution we could – other county law libraries, public libraries, legal aid groups – to pool our resources in order to help the most people possible. We opened our reference box to members of the public because justice is the right of all citizens, even more so in a crisis.

We learned to work with squirming toddlers in our laps and begging dogs by our side.

I started out planning our NLW celebrations to help our users find their place in our library. In the end, it was the library who found its place in what has become the New Normal. We hope that we can be of service to you. We will all get through this together.