Library Staff Share Lessons Learned in 2020 to Forge Ahead in 2021
In your standard new year, people start to practice their New Year’s resolutions. From losing weight to managing money better to taking more time to read (we certainly endorse that one), folks are usually eager to start improving their lives as soon as the calendar reads January 1.
As we all know, though, things are different this time. In a year that saw millions lose their jobs, and many lose their lives, the idea of “living your best life” rings a little hollow right now. With so many bad things happening, how can we even start to pretend that 2021 will be better?
But good things can come out of difficult times, even a year as tumultuous as 2020. We saw people selflessly give of their time and resources to help others, sometimes putting themselves at risk to do so. We saw families spending more time with each other than they ever had before. And we saw plenty of people reevaluate what really mattered in their lives.
The team at Nashville Public Library (NPL) is no different. Today, we’re sharing some of the lessons that members of our library staff are carrying into 2021. We hope these insights will offer you encouragement and strength as we welcome the new year, and serve as a reminder that, even in the worst of times, there’s always hope that tomorrow will be better than today.
Director of Nashville Public Library
“As I think about the oft-used term in 2020, ‘we are all in this together,’ it seems like more. It is certainly about facing a common problem and taking care of each other. More than that, we are better when we work together to find solutions to the challenges we have faced and will face.”
Reference Librarian, Main Library
“While there was a tremendous amount of loss and heartbreak in 2020, there have also been some gifts that I want to be sure to bring into 2021. 2020 was a pretty serious masterclass in what really matters: connection with family, friends, community, the natural world, the sacred.
“I stripped away the things that I discovered aren't actually important to me. And I started to really learn to slow down, to try to take one day at a time as much as possible, to be kind, and to laugh whenever I have the chance.”
Children’s Associate, Hadley Park Branch Library
“Although 2020 has been filled with so many disheartening moments, I am taking one very valuable lesson from all that the past year has brought us: people matter! Without people, our family, friends, doctors, nurses, teachers, grocery store clerks, and NPL patrons, we simply would not be here.
“It matters that the people in my life have survived such a tumultuous time as this. It is my sincere hope that long after heated political and racial climates, the heartbreak of the pandemic, and the need for social distance, we will once again run to embrace the people who matter to us most, realizing that it is indeed true: people make the world go-round.”
Megan Phouthavong Evans
Circulation Supervisor, Bellevue Branch Library
“2020 has shown us that we have a long way to go in terms of racial equity and justice. With the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, the world seems more divided than we’ve seen in recent years past. On top of this, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an anti-Asian sentiment that is unfounded and simply sad.
“This year, my reading life shifted, and I will continue to read books about experiences other than my own to bring about more empathy, love, and understanding. Books give us windows and sliding glass doors, opening up the world to different experiences, ideas, and possibilities. We should all strive to be more kind, and I believe that empathy is where it starts.
“In 2021, I plan to read more #ownvoices books and nonfiction experiences of those other than my own, and have those uncomfortable conversations with others, because one conversation can ripple into bigger societal changes over time (or so I hope)!”
Teen Services Librarian, Bellevue Branch Library
“Over this past year, we watched as a pandemic swept over our country, community, and changed forever our personal lives. The harshest consequences were experienced by our marginalized communities. Racial inequity is both a personal and communal illness, that is amplified during times of crisis.
White supremacy was engineered by white folks and it is our responsibility to undo its ideologies at both a systemic and personal level. The worst of this illness is perpetuated by those who do not believe the illness exists, or by those who think they are immune. If you wish to face the reality of racism, then do the work and research, listen to marginalized voices, and find who is already doing the work at a practical level.
You'll discover there is much to be done, but also that there is hope.”
Circulation Assistant, Hadley Park Branch Library
“The past year I learned just how important it is to be patient and considerate with myself when life and times are hard.
“Instead of getting irritable with myself for feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, I began to ask myself, ‘How would I talk to a loved one who was feeling this way? Would I be angry with them?’ Of course not!
“Show yourself the same care, kindness, and understanding that you would give to others.”
Branch Manager, Southeast Branch Library
“In 2020, my therapist helped me learn the trick of identifying what I am feeling, naming it, accepting it, and then examining the facts surrounding the feeling. It isn't that feelings aren't helpful — they are — but they don’t always give us something to work with the way facts do. For example: ‘I'm scared and that's okay; I know how the virus is transmitted and how to minimize my and my family's risks and I will do those things.’
“As human beings, we cannot — and should not — escape feelings, so it’s better to name them, accept them, and use them to move forward. Another thing that 2020 reaffirmed as a positive thing for me: therapy!”