Hello, all, and welcome to week one-billion-and-eighty-two of the pandemic (this is intentional hyperbole use for dramatic effect, we recognize that the pandemic has only been going on for eleventy million years at this point, sigh). While you may not be able to tell, library staff are, just like all the other humans in our community, very, very tired of the state of things. We had to reduce services in Ashland last week and this week we reduced services throughout the entire system by returning to front door service

We want to take the lead in doing our part to keep our community (which includes our staff) safe. Offering places for folks to gather, which libraries are, is not in the best interest of our community at this time. Our hospitals are at or near capacity and have been asking for help. That help will come in the form of additional staff, not an entire field hospital as originally requested. Our County is making national news AND the term “like a buzz saw” was used. Here is a link to the Jackson County Dashboard and to statewide hospital numbers; we are in Region 5 (this combines Jackson and Josephine counties). So, to sum up: yikes. There is a lot of COVID in our community and any more COVID in our community can lead to catastrophic consequences, especially for folks who may need hospitals for non-COVID-related reasons: heart attack, car accident, ongoing cancer treatment. All of those things are being impacted, too. Oh, and the healthcare professionals in the area are tired. For good reason. 

So, when will libraries go back to full service? When the numbers in the County look significantly less scary. How do we make this happen more quickly? We mask, we distance, we vaccinate… and we work to help others do the same. Some people have strong views about this. That’s OK, but it is worthwhile to look at studies to see what has worked to convince those who are vaccine hesitant to go ahead and get the vaccine anyway. What studies do show is that this blog post is NOT going to convince people to change their stance on vaccines. If you are vaccine hesitant, I’ve already lost you. That’s cool. I’m going to direct this blog post to people who may be able to change your mind instead (maybe): your friends and loved ones.

What we know from an ongoing study from the Kaiser Family Foundation that started when vaccines became available is that some folks who didn’t want vaccines at that time have since gotten vaccinated. You can find even more information on their vaccine monitor dashboard. The important take-aways for those of us who wish others around us would get vaccinated are that conversations with friends and family do make a difference, and that the biggest concerns with those who express hesitancy are side effects and safety. So, how do we help folks change their minds? Here are a few ideas.  

  1. Be genuinely curious and find out why they do not want the vaccine. Don’t make assumptions about their reasons. Don’t mock their reasons. Ask questions. Be empathetic. 
  1. Tell them your experience with getting vaccinated and offer to answer questions. 
  1. If they have logistical barriers to getting vaccinated, offer to help if you are able. 
  1. Also, show them this. Asante updates this infographic daily. It makes it really, really clear that vaccinations keep one out of the hospital. Which is where we should all want to be (except our healthcare workers, we want then to want to be there, which also means we have some work to do to make their jobs more pleasant). 

You may know someone on whom you don’t think these steps will work. Just try anyway. Yes, I know that vaccine resistance is cartoonish in some quarters. I know what I’m asking. At this point, the only way to do this is one vaccine at a time. Making noise in honor of healthcare workers or buying them gift cards to coffee shops is all well and good, but what will really help them is to get folks vaccinated. Having one uncomfortable conversation could create more meaningful change than any amount of end-of-day celebratory noise. 

This post was inspired by the fact that library staff REALLY, REALLY want to do our jobs… we REALLY, REALLY want patrons in our buildings, using them in all the ways they usually do (OK most of the ways, looking at you, scatterers of sunflower seed shells). We want you in our buildings. We are not, as one wit observed in Ashland last week, taking a “covacation.” I assume this is a “droll” portmanteau of “COVID” and “vacation” if you are wondering what a covacation even is. We were also called a not-very-nice name during this same transaction. This is not an isolated incident. We are working during front door service and providing as many of the services as we are able… as well as some we developed DURING the pandemic to reach you in different ways, like storytime videos and blog posts and our JCLS Discovery service. So we ask… I ask… that you remember that those who work at the library are a part of your community as well and are working as hard as we can to get through it safely, just like you are. 

So to sum up, for the umpty-umth time (but once more for the folks in the back, I guess):  Get vaccinated… tell your friends and family to get vaccinated in a way they will be able to hear. Be safe. Wear Masks. Socially distance… and one more thing: BE KIND.