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At the Library: A love letter to Yakima library patrons

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After three days of being quarantined in a bin, a book is placed back on Yakima Central Library’s bookshelf by Mindy Anderson, a library associate supervisor with the Yakima Valley Library, Thursday, July 23, 2020, at 102 N. Third St. in Yakima, Wash.

Most of the time when I sit down to write a column, the words come easily; after all, it’s not exactly a trial to sing the praises of this amazing community, to recount the joys of my job, or to highlight the value and bounty of public libraries.

Those topics always come easily, always.

Like, when I’m telling you about the library’s newly completed Northwest Reading Room — home to a treasure trove of regional archival materials — I never find myself staring at a blank computer screen, hoping for the right words to come.

I’ve also never run into writer’s block on those occasions when I decide to publicly embarrass myself by using tales of my ridiculous childhood antics as a roundabout way to promote a related library resource, service or event.

(Those are some of my favorite columns to write, by the way.)

Other times, though, words do fail me — and this is one of those times.

See, try as I might, I simply can’t seem to find the vocabulary necessary to fully explicate the debt of gratitude that I, and the rest of the Yakima Valley Libraries family, feel for each of you.

Beginning with your indefatigable support and understanding when we closed our doors in March (none of us realizing, or wanting to believe, that the closure would extend from one winter nearly into the next), your love of, and belief in, Yakima Valley Libraries has helped to sustain us.

While this year has, at turns, been surreal, never-ending, upsetting, inspiring and memorable, one of the constants that I came to rely on was, and is, all of you.

It was those of you who scrambled to stock up on books (while others were stockpiling toilet paper), who demonstrated that libraries are essential to the mental, emotional and educational health of this community.

It was the families who regularly “attended” online Summer Reading events and science activities, who proved to me, yet again, that libraries are not just buildings — they’re a versatile, transformative experience as unique as each of you.

I’ll be honest: I’ve struggled a bit this year. It has been downright heartbreaking to not see family and friends; to constantly worry about the health and well-being of loved ones; and to feel like I’m spinning my wheels, work-wise.

If you’re at all familiar with this column, or with the normal goings-on at the library, you likely know that my days and weeks are usually a cacophony of event planning, programs, competing deadlines, and generally mild mayhem.

And I love it.

But all of that stopped in March — and while we, as an organization, worked to re-orient Yakima Valley Libraries in order to best serve you in this strange, new world, I spent a fair amount of time reframing my own professional role and goals for the remainder of 2020.

Thankfully, many of you were here with us the entire way.

We are beyond grateful for those of you who tirelessly advocated on the library’s behalf, and who helped gain state approval for the library to reopen for contact-free curbside pickup back in August.

Your support and the obvious value you place on library services is one of the many, many reasons why I feel so lucky to get to work in this wonderful community.

While I don’t know what the future holds, and I can’t even begin to guess when we’ll be able to resume normal library operations, this one, steadfast, unequivocal truth remains: No matter what happens, the past eight months have proven that we can, and will, come out the other side of this together.

And that’s something to truly be thankful for.

• Krystal Corbray is programming and marketing librarian for Yakima Valley Libraries. She and other library staffers write this column for Thursday’s SCENE section. Learn more at www.yvl.org.

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