To borrow a well-sung phrase from Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin’.” Change is all around us. Now in the final throes of summer, students and families are gearing up for a very different kind of school year. We’re on the cusp of a presidential election as political fervor ramps to an even greater frenzy. The iconic stability of the USPS, captured in their informal motto, is at risk: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” And born from the COVID-19 battle our nation is waging, new words like “social distancing” and “COVID brain” have become an indelible part of our lexicon. The pace of change is fast and breathtaking.
As Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said, “Change is the only constant in life.” If the existence of change is predictable, how can we manage change well if one is perpetually pivoting? Maybe the answer lies in a book. You knew I was going to suggest that didn’t you? Here are a few great reads you might try from Neill Public Library: “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” by Chip Heath; “Don’t Think Twice: Adventure and Healing at 100 Miles Per Hour,” by Barbara Schoichet; and “Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Mody,” by Jo Marchant.
Speaking of change, thanks to the city of Pullman, five employees will return to work at the library between now and Sept. 1. This very significant development will help us work toward our goal of restoring curbside service to a 5-day service by early September and allow us to tackle the backlog of other tasks associated with running a library.
I’d like to extend a warm congratulations to our library colleagues and their communities at the Whitman County Library District in Colfax and the Latah County Library District in Moscow for reopening their doors for limited in-facility service. This is wonderful news for the library community.
Understandably, we’ve gotten questions from patrons wondering about our plans for reopening. With a new school year beginning, large parties occurring, a lingering resistance to wear masks, and cases rising, I believe it is just too premature to reopen the Pullman library for in-facility service right now.
Therefore, until Gov. Inslee’s office issues formal reopening guidelines, we will happily serve you from the curbside. Please don’t misunderstand me. I long for the day we can safely reopen but doing so before local conditions are favorable creates too much instability and risk. I do look forward to the day we can reopen and do it within a more safe and stable environment.
You can help this future state arrive more quickly. Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash your hands. Do these three things, if not for yourself, then for local merchants, your neighbors and friends and yes, do this for your local library. We’re in this together so let’s choose actions that help get us to the future we want.
Joanna Bailey is the director of Neill Public Library.