During the COVID-19 pandemic, public employees across the nation have given back to their communities in extraordinary ways. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have been on the front lines during this pandemic. We wanted to take some time to highlight their work. 

Librarians are national treasures – that’s how we feel here at NPPC. This week, we are honoring the hard work performed by librarians across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Flagstaff library tucks you in – virtually – by reading aloud ‘Harry Potter’ sagas by Sam McManis. Jamie Paul, the marketing and social media manager at the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Public Library in Arizona along with other staff came up with the program “Goodnight, Flagstaff.” According to McManis, more than 1,000 people are tuning in or watching online nightly, and right now, volunteer readers and staff are working their way through “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Paul commented on the program, “Some of them are reluctant readers whom the parents can get to read anything else. They complain about being read to. But I’ve heard one of these children, a little boy in third grade, has reluctantly admitted to liking ‘Goodnight, Flagstaff,’ and is listening every night. I feel like, ‘Hey, that’s enough. It’s a success.’”

How librarians are serving their patrons while their libraries are closed by Rachel Kramer Brussel. In this piece for Forbes, Brussel highlights the work librarians provide for their communities during the pandemic. Stacey McKenzie, who is the Director of Library Services for the City of Lubbock, Texas, speaks to how her library is coping with being closed. She says, “We have craft tutorials and storytimes online for children. We host an online Dungeons & Dragons program for young adults and we try to make sure we highlight all of our digital resources online for all ages, but especially for those parents who might need some homeschooling help.” Additionally, there is a hidden job of being a librarian – helping the homeless. “The library system also has a volunteer social worker available for help with issues such as public assistance, homelessness and medical forms,” writes Brussel. 

Small free libraries offering solace amid virus shutdowns by Michelle A. Monroe and Russel Contreras. Reporting for the Associated Press, Monroe and Contreras tell the story of librarians, public employees, and volunteers from across the country building and creating mobile or stationary public libraries in their communities. Christine Gale Reynolds, a librarian who worked at the public library in Yosemite National Park, started her own mobile library in the back of her car with donated books to lend out to her community. She said, “I know this may not be legal, conventional, or ethically sound, and yet it has worked for many, and I feel of use.”

Be sure to check back next week for more stories of public employees giving back to their communities!