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There is Before and there is After. The recent past, the “After,” has been close to half a year, but in some ways it seems a lifetime.The Virus has changed our lives in ways that could not have been imagined.

Along with so many of you, I’ve adapted to Pandemic Time and Corona Virus Survival techniques. Walking or hiking every day, reading and more reading, working on the novel-in-progress, gardening, going to Zoom writers gatherings, reading groups, even to YouTube church services: these activities comprise every day, every week, every month.

I’ll admit that I’ve spent more than a little time reminiscing

Sifting through personal archives, I recently came across a bit of whimsey that reminded me of my years as a children’s librarian. The school was Carlos Gilbert Elementary, here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The school had been remodeled right before I was hired, and I was faced with the task of setting up the entire library. My first day on the job, I walked into a 23,000-square-foot room with nothing in it but bookshelves, tables and chairs. Along with help from Americore workers and dozens of parents, I organized a 10,000-volume collection of books that had been in storage. I had adopted the library, and it adopted me. Preparing the library took several months, and then it was time for the young patrons to visit.
Being their librarian was one of the most challenging but also most rewarding jobs of my life. The children, grades K through 6, loved library time and I relished connecting them with books.

Preparation for opening the Carlos Gilbert library took every ounce of my energy and nearly every waking hour. But to this day, I would do it all over again. Patrick Lewis’s poems reflects how I felt about not just “my” library but all libraries:

From Please Bury Me in the Library by J. Patrick Lewis:

Please bury me in the library
In the clean, well-lighted stacks
Of Novels, History, Poetry,
Right next to the Paperbacks,
Where the Kids’ Books dance
With True Romance
And the Dictionary dozes.
Please bury me in the library
With a dozen long-stemmed proses.
Way back by a rack of Magazines,
I won’t be sad too often,
If they bury me in the library
With Bookworms in my coffin.

The Santa Fe Public Library (https://santafelibrary.org), here in my home town, has done a magnificent job of making books available through curbside pickup. Their system notifies patrons by email when reserved books can be picked up— It works quite well. Here’s to those “essential workers,” the librarians. May we soon return to libraries in person!


Elaine Pinkerton Coleman publishes a monthly blog on topics ranging from adoption, nature, literature, and the writing life. She retired from being librarian in 2005. Currently, she is finishing the first draft of a novel, The Hand of Ganesh and is also working on a memoir. Comments invited.