It’s been one year since we shuttered the library building due to COVID-19. We were on a Spring Break that got extended by one additional week. Then the university made the decision to move all classes online. Faculty/staff were sent home to work by the Governor’s order. In prepping to close, we were busy turning off equipment, making sure we all had laptop access and remote desktop connection, and transitioning all services to online only.
What did we forget? The library plants.
In summer of 2020, we returned for a phased re-opening. In-person staffing was minimal while most of us continued working from home. Even now, we’re staffing at around 50 percent in-person. Foot traffic is off by about one-third.
And the plants? They had seen better days–especially an orchid that was a sure goner.
However, a year since we first closed the library building, this orchid has managed to spring back to life. Apropos for the season.
Now please don’t draw parallels to “resilience.” That word gets bandied about too much while ignoring things like the actual trauma and loss due to COVID-19, toxic stress, low morale, and the ever-present “do more with less” mantra. As if by merely staying positive, everything will work out. No, that’s not how life works.
Instead, I merely take the orchid blooming as a simple sign of hope. The hope that people will get vaccinated. The hope that people will continue to mask-up and social distance. I don’t like to say a hope for “returning to normal” because I think we’ve discovered things we would like to change over the past year. In some ways, the blooming is an opportunity for a new start. Time for new ideas, new possibilities. It’s the hope that things will get better.