A Sense of Community

By at August 31, 2017 | 3:15 pm | Print

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The solar eclipse was an incredible event at the NBPL. We never know what attendance at our programs will be. It might range from a handful to 100. This time, we had no idea how many would come and it was well beyond our expectations.

As soon as the media started reporting that libraries would be giving out solar eclipse glasses, our staff started getting phone calls requesting glasses. The morning of the event the staff answered over 400 phones calls for glasses. We had planned an afternoon of fun programs and the small order of glasses that we had purchased would be given to those who attended our program.

Before opening, there were people at our back door asking for glasses. At 9 am, there was a line at the front door. It soon became too hot to wait outside so we brought the line in. We had to figure out where to put the line without disrupting daily library services and keep some kind of order. I can’t imagine what someone thought when they walked into the library and had no idea of what was going on. Before we knew it we had a line of 427 plus people. The line serpentined through the book stacks behind the Information Desk. But even that large area couldn’t accommodate everyone. It went past the elevator and into the Media Room. You can check out the photos on our Facebook page.

It got loud, but then again, that was a lot of people! But they were delightful, kind and patient, orderly and cooperative. People meeting people, sharing conversation. Kids playing with a new friend to pass the wait. In fact, if you listened to all the growing conversation, it sounded like they were all enjoying themselves.

Let me share a secret – it might have looked like it went smoothly and well planned but we were winging it as we have never had a crowd like this before.

In this world of uncertain times, when it seems we are exposed to sadness, hate and bad news, this was a day full of positive human interaction. It was amazing. The Community Room was full of people watching the full eclipse as we live-streamed it. Others enjoyed the various activities: making an “I saw the eclipse at the NBPL” button, decorating cupcakes and suns. Outside, the lawn was full of people. Folks were chatting, sharing glasses to view the eclipse and sharing the eclipse together. It was an incredible sense of community; being part of something together, sharing a unique experience, belonging and engaged in positive interaction. It was exhilarating. This is what libraries are all about – a place of community gathering, where people connect, thrive and learn.

Were there a few kinks in the afternoon? Of course! Does anything go the way we expect? Kudos to the staff that handled it so well and made it happen. Several people shared with us positive compliments and appreciation for the program. Thanks to all who attended and made this event so successful. I have always said that the best part of library work is the people we meet.

At the end of the day, staff was tired but full of positive vibes. We joked that we survived the solar eclipse and were already thinking about the next one. Good thing we have 7 years to work on it!

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