A couple weeks ago, I presented at my state conference and it went so well! It was my first time presenting and I was so excited to see a full room and hear really wonderful feedback from participants who said it meant a lot and was fun for them. I remember saying, “I’m going to ride this high for weeks!” Well, maybe I jinxed myself, because the next day I got some awful news.
It’s really a long story and one I don’t feel too comfortable getting into online, but due to some questionable decisions made by city officials, I am losing the space where I hold all of my programs except computer classes. At this point, I have no space in our building to move to and programs will have to be done either as outreach or in other branches.
Since I first heard the news a couple weeks ago to now, I’ve been doing everything in my power to keep this from happening. My director and I had a pretty good plan for making these officials see reason.
- I compiled a report on our statistics from programs and included advocacy (explaining the importance of storytime was chief among my concerns) as well as feedback we received in surveys and success stories from patrons.
- My director made a beautiful infographic and pamphlet to bring to the officials to help her have a conversation about the importance of that space.
- Our county management team tried to give the officials a nudge toward supporting us.
We were flat out ignored and told that in four or five months we “may” be able to re-visit the topic. The situation is really tricky for us for a lot of complicated reasons, so right now, our only hope for one day regaining this space is that patrons will speak up for us to their elected officials and that those officials listen to them. I have to say, though, I don’t have a lot of hope that pressure from the community will change their minds.
This process has taken place over the course of about three weeks and I’ve been struggling to plan for the future in the meantime. It’s beyond distressing to me to watch my community lose access to the services that they pay for and deserve and it’s hard not to take it personally. I’m responsible for all the programs for two branches and planning and leading them takes up around 70% of my time. I’ve used this space to build attendance for new programs for seniors and a new storytime for babies as well as continuing to build on our existing programs from other librarians. I can’t even let myself think about how much this is going to cripple my ability to handle field trips and events for classes, or, you know…summer reading?!
All this to say, I’ve had an emotional struggle on my hands that I’ve tried to keep under wraps as things progressed. Last week, things came to head for me, though. We installed brand new RFID gates, scanners, and a self-check machine and things did not go smoothly. In the process of getting patrons used to the changes, I was awash in stress and sadness and anger that I was trying to bury for the time being. It wasn’t working as well as I wanted. At one point, I was really callous and unhelpful with a patron who tends to be difficult to help under the best circumstances. I felt so terrible. I’d never stopped helping someone before.
So when I came home for the weekend, I had to deal with the way I was feeling. I looked at my anger and sadness and I did my very best to smile at it. If I’m being honest, staying angry feels really good under these circumstances. I have a great reason for it and I should be pushing back, but that anger is selfish. It doesn’t help the people who interact with me every day and it’s slowly eating up the joy and the peace that I’ve cultivated for myself over the years. It stays right under the surface and tells me that I have it hard enough without feeling all the struggles of the people around me. That’s not who I want to be.
This week I want to wake up early, recognize how I’m feeling, and take the time to really put everything in it’s place before I head to work. I want to tell myself, “It’s going to be a great day,” and then think about all the ways I can make that true just with my mindset. I should be pushing back against what I know is wrong, but I have to remember, too, that I can’t help people without focusing on my compassion and joy. To do that, I have to put down my resentment and find a way to love the moment I’m in. I don’t know how I’m going to do that peacefully. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I have to try to keep in touch with my role as helper and healer through what comes next.