Being a New Librarian in the Age of COVID-19

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April 30, 2020, 10:45 a.m.
Librarianship as a second career during pandemic.
Giovanna Colosi headshot

by Giovanna Colosi, Librarian for the School of Education

When I offered to write a piece for the Libraries blog back in the Fall of 2019, I had the intentions of writing about my journey into librarianship as a second career. I joined the Libraries in July 2018 as my first library job. I intended to discuss how scary it was entering a new profession after a successful 20-year career in student affairs. I planned to share how I chipped away at my second master’s degree at the I-School at SU while working full-time and raising a family. I was going to talk about how exhilarating it was that in midlife, instead of having a crisis, I had an epiphany and changed the course of my career and life! That was what I was going to write about. Then, Covid-19 happened.

I was now at home trying to write about a positive time and transition in my life. I sat at my kitchen table staring at my laptop for several hours trying to collect my thoughts and jot down some ideas. All while my 18-month-old son spun around dancing to “Baby Shark” for the hundredth time and my 11-year-old daughter asked me another question about fractions, or simple machines, or if she could leave “school” early to phone her friends. And while my dog barked incessantly because he was wondering, “Why are all these people around now, all the time?!” Suffice it to say, it’s been a challenge.

I continue to work during this pandemic. So, not only am I still learning how to be a great librarian, I am also learning how to do it while being a single mom, working at home full-time, and trying not to feel guilty about not always having a spectacular day.  I have come to the realization that many of the strategies that helped me during the time I went back to school to obtain my MLIS are helping me now, so I wanted to share those insights with you:

  1. Being Organized: When I went back to school to obtain my MLIS I had to be uber organized. Having a day planner, color coordinated calendars, and a to-do list was a must. I find that now, more than ever, being organized helps with some of the added stress we are all dealing with.
  2. Self-Care: Going back to school was a hard decision, especially because I was also working full-time and I was a non-traditional student (read, OLDER!). So, I needed to take care of my mental and physical health. I did lots of yoga and ran. During this time of social distancing I have also begun practicing meditation, and while I cannot get out and run as often as I would like to, I take advantage of tons of free workouts on YouTube.
  3. Let It Go: Like Elsa in Frozen, sometimes you just need to let it go.  By that I mean that when I was in school, I soon realized I could not do it all nor do it perfectly every time. I am a perfectionist so If I received an A- because I couldn’t get to all the readings, I had to tell myself that it was ok. If I had to take a day off work because my child was sick, and I missed an important meeting, I had to tell myself it was ok. This continues to be a very difficult thing for me to do. But now it is more important than ever that we cut ourselves some slack. We cannot always get everything done on our to-do list when we are home. Things will come up at home that just don’t come up on campus. Give yourself some grace. Take a deep breath, and let it go.

These are some lessons I have learned. Although I could likely share more, my daughter just came to me in tears because she got Nutella on her favorite Scrunchie. This balance and agility may not be something we learn explicitly in grad school, but it’s part of the application of knowledge in real-life situations. Stay the course, take care, and if all else fails, let it go…

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