Tuesday, May 12, 2020
May 12, 2020: Spring 2020 Tributes: Librarians
[This would be the last week of classes, if the Spring 2020 semester had gone as scheduled. To say that it didn’t is just to scratch the surface of this chaotic, crazy, challenging spring, though. So for my usual semester recaps, this time I’ll focus on brief tributes to those folks who helped us make it through this incredibly tough time, leading up to a weekend post of my own reflections on teaching in this new world.]
On one tangible and one intangible inspiration from this vital community.
Back in February, which if I’m doing the math correctly was roughly 289,971 months ago, I had the honor of being featured as one of the FSU Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library’s Spotlight on Fitchburg Faculty Scholarship honorees. This wonderful program and exhibit was started by FSU Library Assistant Jodie Lawton (or at least she has had an instrumental role in it and was the one who interviewed me and put together my exhibit), and offers one small example of the countless (and yet always increasing, I suppose like the universe!) ways that the library and its staff embody, express, and extend the best of the FSU community.
Given all of that, it’s no surprise that the library and its staff have continued to contribute to our FSU community in hugely inspiring ways during these last few months. One specific, tangible, and incredible example was their scanning and digitization of the materials that faculty had placed on reserve for their Spring semester courses. For my Intro to Sci Fi/Fantasy class, we use two short story anthologies that comprise a significant percentage of our semester’s readings; I had placed two copies of each on reserve, and the majority of my students were accessing those readings through those copies. When we lost access to the library as a physical space it seemed as if we wouldn’t be able to read any of those stories (none of them are available in full online)—but then our librarians came through, achieving the Herculean task of scanning all the reserve readings that faculty let them know they needed. Thanks to their efforts I could email my students PDFs of all our remaining stories, and we were able to have wonderful (optional but very collective) conversations about these texts.
That specific work and tangible effect alone would be more than enough to warrant a tribute post for our FSU librarians, but I also want to highlight the broader, intangible but vital role that librarians play at times like these. I’m blessed to be friends with many librarians and archivists, at academic institutions, at public libraries, at research sites and archives, and more, and saw throughout these months their commitment to their work and to sharing resources with communities near and far. But we also benefitted from a much more focused version of that—my sons’ Mom wrote to the Newton (MA) library asking for book recommendations for their quarantine reading, and one of their Youth Services librarians, Megan Coffey, wrote back with an incredibly thorough list, not just of books but of ones available for the boys to download and read on their devices. One example of the vital presence and role of librarians in our society and culture, never more so than in times like these.
Next tribute tomorrow,
PS. Reflections or tributes of your own on Spring 2020?