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Podcast: Library Operations During COVID-19 with Jamie Eustace, Baytown, TX

Posted on April 28, 2020


Jamie Eustace GovLove

Jamie Eustace

Jamie Eustace
Library Director
City of Baytown, Texas
LinkedIn


Curbside pickup to digital story time. Jamie Eustace, the Library Director for the City of Baytown, Texas, joined the podcast to talk about how running the library has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. She shared how staff have found creative ways to continue serving library patrons and how operations will change once they are allowed to open the library again.

Host: Kirsten Wyatt

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Learn More

Baytown Library Website

Harris County, TX COVID-19 Resource Page

Baytown library wants you to share your stories from pandemic

Can’t keep local libraries down

#ELGLInspire TSU Speaker: Jamie Eustace

2018 Chris Traeger Award – #1 to #10

I Have to Ask: Libraries and Homelessness

I Have to Ask: Three Book Recommendations

New director expected to lead Sterling Library


Episode Transcript

Kirsten Wyatt

Coming to you from Portland, Oregon. This is GovLove, a podcast about local government. GovLove is produced by ELGL, Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We engage the brightest minds in local government. I’m Kirsten Wyatt, the ELGL co-founder and executive director, and today I’m excited to welcome Jamie Eustace, the city librarian for Baytown, Texas to the podcast. Jamie, welcome to GovLove.

 

Jamie Eustace

Hey, thanks.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

So today Jamie and I will talk about the role of libraries during COVID-19. But first we’ll get started with a lightning round. So what is your most controversial non-political opinion?

 

Jamie Eustace

Ya, I had to think about that because so many opinions these days are political. And the best thing I could come up with is, I don’t like Tiger King. And I don’t think it’s good TV. I don’t think it’s entertaining. I just I don’t get it.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Is it an animal right perspective? Like, is that what you don’t like it or is it just that you don’t like it?

 

Jamie Eustace

I like tried to be entertained and I middlee love bad television. I watch The Bachelor every Monday night like that’s my I love The Bachelor. But I couldn’t get into Tiger King I just couldn’t.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

I mean maybe the world of the cats isn’t for you. [Laughter]

 

Jamie Eustace

I love cats. It is so confusing. Like by all rights, I should love this show and I just couldn’t.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Are you watching The Bachelor to listen to your heart?

 

Jamie Eustace

No, I could not do that either. [ Laughter] That was also someything that I found unwatchable. Yeah, that was bad. That was bad. But there is something called Songland if they haven’t seen that about it’s like the voice for songwriters. That’s awesome.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, is it? Okay, good to know. Listeners, you heard it here first from Jamie. Okay, so what fictional character would you most like to have a coffee or a beer with?

 

Jamie Eustace

That’s such a fun question for a librarian. Thank you for asking. And I went back my favorite book in the world is Nine Stories by JD Salinger. And my favorite story in the book is Perfect Day for a Banana Fish. And the character in there is a very sad and tragic figure. I know it’s Seymour Glass and I would like to have some kind of fancy cocktail at the hotel bar with Seymour Glass.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

So I was, when I typed this question out, I was worried that you were gonna mention a VC Andrews book, because I know he used to be a fan.

 

Jamie Eustace

That is so funny. Yeah, no, no judgments for readers of VC Andrews. But yeah, I used to think VC Andrews was a real person and that everything that they wrote in the book happened to them for real. And I went to my mom once and said, How can all of these bad things happen to one person and she’s like, let me tell you what fiction is. So, that was my first introduction.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

I felt like, I think you told that story at ELGL 19 and it immediately humanized you and made people realize that even though you are a top 10 Traeger winner, you are just like us.

 

Jamie Eustace

[Laughter] just like everybody else when I put my pants on when they’re gonna die.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

All right, and what is your best self-care tip in the time of quarantine?

 

Jamie Eustace

So I think it’s to lean into the fact that we can’t control everything. And I think some people have never had a big tragedy or a big life disruption. I lost my house during hurricane Ike many, many years ago. And that’s the first time I really learned that like you, you just have to go with it. You can’t control it, you can’t undo what’s already happened. You just kind of have to ride the wave. And while you’re doing that, like if you’re meditating, that’s my favorite thing. But whatever it is that you need to do to kind of lean in and realize you can’t control the world of this. This one’s got away from us and you’re just a passenger on this bus.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

That’s great advice. And especially as we jump into talking about all of the unknowns that are ahead of us, especially in our public libraries. But before we get into that, I would love for you to tell our listeners more about you and your career path to Baytown.

 

Jamie Eustace

Yes. Also sort of a funny story. I grew up in Michigan, and after college, I did Teach for America and that is how I ended up in Texas ended up in the Houston area. That was my placement. I kind of did a little bopping around after my placement was over. But I ended up back here, I taught for several more years. And then I when I wanted to get out of teaching, I would scan the paper. That’s when we still people looked for jobs in the Sunday classified. [Laughter] That was a thing. And I came across a posting for a job that I thought said, Literary Coordinator, and I thought, oh my god, that sounds dreamy, like I would tell people what to read [Laughter] and that would be ideal for me. And when I was I was halfway through that job interview when I realized it was Literacy Coordinator and my actual job would be teaching adults how to read [Laughter] there is some irony you know, unwind that irony people, and I took the job, and that’s how I got into libraries. It really wasn’t as a librarian and I was still teaching then adults. And while I was here, I went to library school. I’ve been in the same library for almost 18 years, I’ve been the Director for I don’t know how many, maybe four. Don’t fact check that but, you know, for a few years, and I just, I love it. There’s no better place to work for me than a library.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And you get to do some other really cool projects for the city. Tell us more about that.

 

Jamie Eustace

Sure. Sure. And one of the things in the last few years I co founded, our, we call it the Pipe Academy, people empowerment, process improvement and people empowerment, and it’s based on the lean model that came out of Denver. So we started that here several years ago. I’ve been teaching in that and kind of shepherding it along. And then recently I also became very involved in building a community engagement program, which is something that our city which has 80,000 people did not previously have, and we still don’t have it fully. Like we have one employee who’s concentrated in community engagement, but we’re really trying to build that from scratch now, so I kind of like to build things from scratch. That’s my, that’s my thing.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

I love it. Alright, so walk through the Baytown COVID timeline. What have the last couple of months been like and when did things become real?

 

Jamie Eustace

Yeah, I had to look that up because it’s been a blur. Luckily for me, I’ve been able to work every day, even though sometimes that meant coming alone to the library, which is a 50,000 square foot building. I would bring my dog and we would play fetch. She loves to play fetch in the library. And but it was really at the beginning of March, no communities around the country kind of same thing. We heard about it in China. We heard about it in Europe. We heard about it, you know, coming to the west coast and the writing was on the wall for all of us the whole time, like this is going to come to your community. You’re going to have to take action. And I remember, ironically, I was in a meeting, right when it first started, like maybe the end of February, beginning of March. And I asked the question, are we going to try and get mask and this is before the big shortage. I was like, really planning ahead. And people in the room kind of looked at me and were like, no, that’s just silly. We’re not all going to wear a mask. That’s, you know, and then just yesterday, we got the order from our county, that masks are going to be mandatory. And of course, it’s hard to come by. But it was like the second week of March. You know, just like everybody else, we had that scale back as soon as our community stopped the public schools when they closed we were like, Huh, I guess if they’re closed according to that logic, we probably shouldn’t have story-time. Like, you know, we, we were trying to apply a common logic to a problem we had never seen before. But it was the you know, really middle of March when we closed the building and moved to curbside. And we probably did curbside for five days before the county issued the Stay Home Work Safe order is what they’re calling ours. And and so that’s when the employees didn’t come back. And then it was just me checking the book drop for a few days trying to figure out what, what am I doing what what should we all be doing and trying to mobilize the communication of people who’d gone home. Like how are we going to communicate? How are we going to work? So it’s been yeah, looked at the calendar. It’s been a month it’s been a month.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And did you have in place any type of closure, extended closure plan, you know, whether it was for just you know, a general planning ahead or something that was maybe more weather focused or was this you know, completely unplanned for?

 

Jamie Eustace

Its, you know, we’re good at weather when we’re like it or not, we’re good at hurricanes. I’ve gotten good at hurricanes. But this, the rules here are different. You know, in a hurricane, the library kind of, if we have electricity becomes the center because we’ve got all the computers and we have space. And it’s a place for people to come together, which is exactly the opposite of what we need to do now. We need people to stay apart. We had luckily done some curbside before, and we had some building issues where the building was closed for a little bit. So we knew how to mobilize curbside, but even then the rules are a little bit different. Because, you know, do you hand the people the books through their car window? You know, how contagious is this? So we did have to build a lot from scratch. Absolutely.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And so your status now is that you’re completely closed and are you still doing curbside?

 

Jamie Eustace

So we stopped curbside and our stay at home stay safe order went into effect, and that’s when we stopped because, you know, giving people the reason to come out seems incongruous to the rules, so it’s in effect till April 30, unless it’s extended. However, our state governor gave a press conference on Monday, I think, and said, starting this Friday, the state’s going to be able to open retail on a curbside basis. And though we’re not retail, clearly, but we’re very similar. So I got a call from the newspaper within five minutes. It said, hey, the governor said, retails okay. Are you going to start curbside again? And I was like, I hadn’t thought of it. So but the answer, you know, as we talked it out, and try to apply the same safety logic is yeah, we’re going to start curbside tomorrow. So we’re looking forward to it that you know, we’re only going to put things in the trunk. We’re going to wear masks and gloves. It’s but there’s no contacts. We do have to be careful because then we’re asking some employees to come back, which is they’ve been filtering back in just a few a day, as the month has dragged on, but that we’ll have to do physical distancing with the employees we’ll have to have masks, and it’s going to be very different. But we’re so happy to be doing curbside.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. And so, you know, you’ve used this word logic enough times. Is that is that, you know, if you look at your, your peer network of librarians, public librarians nationwide, I mean, is that kind of what’s what’s driving a lot of this decision making is that concept of logic as a relates to other community or commercial services?

 

Jamie Eustace

So yeah, we try and you know, I can only speak for what we do, but I think I think everybody tries and it, you know, with this, like I said, the schools, we don’t want kids together, we shouldn’t do story-times. That was sort of easy. When a stay at home order, the logic is, well, they don’t want people coming out in public, so let’s not tell them to come here. But you know, we’re very then, so when we were doing curbside the first time, most people were very happy. But we had people calling and some people really angry or really emotional, that we were doing this at all because we were putting our staff at risk. We were putting our patrons at risk. And this stuff is living on the books, that it can live on paper. Didn’t we know this? You know, we’re helping the virus spread. So that’s hard. It’s hard to take those phone calls and, and try to make a right decision because in truth, no one’s 100% sure what the right decision is. So we tried to err on the side of caution when we closed for so long. But now, no, you can drive to Chick Fil A, and they hand you your sandwich. So you can go to the grocery store and pick boxes of cereal off the shelf. So me putting books in the back of your car, if we minimize that contact, I think that’s logical, right? I think. But I understand if you feel like it’s not. I certainly understand if staff doesn’t want to participate in it. Or if the public is asking some public asking now, are we disinfecting the books? And the answer is no, no, we’re not. But if you want to you can, or you can leave them in the trunk of your car for how many ever days, you know, you feel is appropriate before you take them out and touch them. Everyone just kind of has to make their own risk assessment. But in government, we have to be responsible and set a good example. And look and look like we really are, as we are, you know, we don’t want to hurt anybody. We really want people to read their books. [Laughter] We actually had someone show up. There’s, like I said, very few staff in the building. And we’re accepting deliveries from mail and UPS, and we have a back door bell and someone rang it and it was a woman from the community and she was very upset because she had just finished a book, a book in a series and absolutely needed to have the next book, where I said, we’re, we’re closed. We’re not doing that, but you know, as soon as we can, and she looked me right in the eye and said, you don’t understand I have to finish this series. And I thought, okay, okay, this is your version of emergency. So I’m going to get you the book. But please don’t tell your friends to come back. [Laughter] This is our little secret. It is important to people and in a time when it’s everything is so hard. If reading the next book in a series makes your life easier, I have a hard time standing in your way.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. What was the series?

 

Jamie Eustace

I don’t remember. Somebody else got it off the shelf. It was something in sci fi, I think. Hopefully it was good. Yeah.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

So, you know, besides curbside, have you moved to other types of programming that people can engage with the library remotely?

 

Jamie Eustace

Yes. And luckily we had in place, we already had a really strong social media presence, a lot of followers and people who are used to interacting with us in that way. We have our own podcast studio here and some film stuff that we were able to put together very quickly. I’m so impressed with my staff, in a matter of days, content that would last for a month for story-times, and book reviews and craft. That’s one of my favorite things. We have some crafting videos, and a lot of interactive stuff that really engages the patrons. We’ve got a contest, but asking people to recreate book covers, by like dressing in their, you know, whatever make themselves look like a book cover and sending that in. And we’ve had some fantastic ones from that. So we don’t want people to lose the connection to us. We had a game night, one night, one of our librarians hosted on Zoom, more people could come and play games, and I’ve seen a lot of libraries do really good stuff, where if nothing else, librarians are super creative as a species. So this was kind of kind of a good challenge for us.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And so what is your staffing model right now? How has, how have you been staffing? What have hours looked like? And how has that affected your workforce?

 

Jamie Eustace

Yeah. So lucky to work in government where people aren’t being furloughed here. People are still getting full pay, even though most, for the most part, people are not reporting. I’ve been here, mostly the whole time, me and the dog. But then, you know, as it went on, we realized, oh, invoices are still coming in. Books actually are still coming in. And we want to be ready to go when we’re ready to go. So maybe one or two days a week people come in to do administrative stuff, like pay the bills, you know, put the labels on the books, get the stuff in the catalog, the bookshop still has to be checked. And the books have to go on the shelf. If we keep them backlogged too long, It’s going to create, you know, a backlog of jams. So, just having maybe right now three or four people in the building a day is what we are doing and then when we start curbside tomorrow, that number will go up a little bit. But people I think for the most part will be working maybe two out of five days a week. And that’s and that’s good because I tried to tell my staff and I think this is a lesson for anybody who’s been working at home for 30 plus days. Working, it’s a muscle, you know, in 30 days is how long it takes to make a habit. And now your habit might be getting up at, you know, 10 o’clock instead of seven o’clock or, you know, eating all day or staying in your pajamas or taking naps. I think there’s gonna be a lot of nap time when we get back. People are gonna be tired. But I think that people will have lost their doors for having a desk job or having a job where they’re serving the public all day. And they want to work. Absolutely. They want to work. But it’s it is different when you’re stuck at home.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Sure. And so what are your revenue projections looking like for, you know, this year and into the next fiscal year? I mean, are you already seeing and feeling that, just with the lack of a programming and you know fees and things like that?

 

Jamie Eustace

The libraries piece in that is minimal. So we’re, you know, we collect just fees and you know, last book fines. We don’t rely on that money so much, the city doesn’t rely on that money. But the, the thought that we’re all looking for in all the departments across the city is, you know, we’re finishing up a budget year everything’s already budgeted. The money’s already there, but going into next fiscal year, the hotel motel occupancy tax is taking a huge hit, sales tax is going to take a huge hit. I’m on the board of the United Way. Certainly the donation campaign is going to take a hit because so many people particularly here, we’re an oil and gas town and gases, if you’ve not noticed, it’s very, very cheap right now. And so you know, the community is going to take a hit and nobody really knows when the dust settles, what that’s gonna look like. So as we go into next week, we had just submitted our budgets when this started. So we submitted our budgets thinking, we’re, you know, everything’s good. It’s a good year. But now, you know, finance is going to have to go, and we’re going to have to have some hard conversations. So yeah.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And so you’ve written for ELGL about the role that libraries play in social services and specifically for unhoused people. Can you share with us, you know, from both your vantage point with the library, and then also with United Way, what’s happening with social services in your area with COVID? And and, you know, what’s the effect going to be in the next six to 12 months?

 

Jamie Eustace

It’s going to be rough. From the United Way perspective, definitely, we’re monitoring what kind of requests are coming in through the two on one line to the state. And it’s basic needs. It’s rent, is absolutely number one. I need rent assistance. Utilities, I think is now number two. And food is number three. So, and it’s people who didn’t need those services before. So there’s going to be in every community across the country, the agencies who are already filling those needs are going to need more support than ever, financially, volunteer wise. And that’s another really fascinating thing about this crisis. We’re in a normal crisis, a normal I mean, like a hurricane, volunteering is huge. Everybody wants to help everybody. And it makes sense. We know how to do that, we get together and feed people or clothe people or house people. Volunteering in this crisis is super different, because you can’t gather. So that’s challenging. The homeless situation is an enigma as always to me. They knew our people and they’re regulars. They’re here every single day. They knew we were going to close we had a little bit of warning that the building was going to close down. And no one, they don’t say, well, what am I going to do? Or I need help or where, it’s I don’t claim to understand the network and they have really disappeared. They’re not sleeping on the porch. They’re not in my bushes. They’re not in the park next door. It’s and I know that the shelter is not you know, picking up that. I think they are just wandering and, and making do I think that the people who visit us every day who are unhoused are incredibly resourceful, and struggle, absolutely. But it’s, it’s like an underground that I don’t have eyes into. And I think the minute we reopen, I think they’ll be back sitting at the computers doing their stuff. Yeah. So it’s interesting.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

So let’s talk about that, you know, when things open again, you know, and not just, you know, kind of this, this stepping into it like you all well, tomorrow, you know, what does that look like? You know, have you started thinking about how the library looks different, is structured differently, staffing, services, that type of thing?

 

Jamie Eustace

Yes. Well, I mean, as we phase into it, for sure. I definitely took the federal guidelines. I had fun the day after they came out. And you know, we’re in phase one, we’re in phase two and phase three and what it looks like here. We have 70 plus public computers. On day one, when the doors come open, all 70 of those computers probably can’t be on because then people are sitting very close together. So we’re probably going to have to put some out of order and space them and all that and maybe story-time doesn’t come back live to start with. It’s really hard to project, but when I, when I do that kind of planning, you know, I kind of think you know, worst case, this is what it looks like and then eventually, it’ll go back to more of what we call normal. But with a lot more digital stuff, because it works. You know, I don’t know if anybody else has found this. I’m having Zoom conversations with my friends in California and Minnesota that I wasn’t seeing anyway. But now all of a sudden, every Sunday, we’re having coffee together. So that’s kind of a positive side effect that we have realized. We really can make authentic connections with people who are not sitting next to us.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Yeah, absolutely. And so what are some other topics in the public library world that are attending right now related to COVID?

 

Jamie Eustace

Yeah, I think a lot of libraries really just kill it with their creativity. Libraries, you know, people always think library is about books and checking out, you know, books and material and all that stuff. But libraries have always at their core been about resource sharing. Kind of being the stewards of community resources and making the most of them. And I’ve seen libraries doing that with maker spaces, their sewing mask. They’re running their 3D printers to create the visors, which we also did for a little while and today we switched gears and are making ear protectors or ear comforters, so that those masks don’t hurt your ears so badly. So we’re, we started mass producing those today, which is pretty cool. Just libraries really, anything they have, is it sewing machines, or 3D printers, or books, they’re figuring out how to get it in the hands of people, even when it’s really difficult to get it in the hands of people. So we’ve always done that. But I have just been so impressed across the nation with the idea, because it’s happened so quickly. If you gave us you know, six months to plan and said, this is going to happen. What are you going to do? Oh my god. We’d make a playbook. [Laughter] But, but we didn’t have that. We did not have that time and people are really cranking out some good stuff.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And so if a non librarian is listening to this podcast because they love local government, but they’re not they’re not in library world, what are some of the things that you think librarians want them to know right now, especially as government’s head into, as you mentioned, you know, some of these tough conversations and decision making times you know, about services and about potential cuts. You know, what are some of those, those topics that you think a non librarian should be aware of?

 

Jamie Eustace

You know, the big topic that rises to the surface for me, is, you know, community engagement infrastructure. We talk about infrastructure and cities all the time, and usually, we mean something very different. But our city is lacking, and many are, a real infrastructure for community engagement, a way to communicate and with the public in a way that’s more than one sided. You know, it’s not just as a city, post this on Facebook or Instagram. I need to be able to hear my community. And we don’t have that here. Not in not in a real systematic way where everyone understands that they’re a piece of the puzzle. And we need to build that. Because this could happen again. And we want it anyway. I mean, we’ve always wanted it. But now we realize we need it. We need it really badly. How do we find out what’s going on in neighborhoods, especially when we can’t go into those neighborhoods right now and interact? So there’s a lot of potential there for, you know, technology. But even even more than that, we’re going to try some really low tech stuff when we get back together, just to see if we can get, kind of the positive would be connecting the community through a crisis of course.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. And, you know, thinking to your innovation work and and your Pipe Academy work, what, what did all of that do to prepare your overall city workforce for making this you know, pretty significant pivot and being able to, you know, above and beyond the library, you know, continue to to serve your community?

 

Jamie Eustace

The thing that our process improvement work has done more than anything, is break down the silos between departments. And that is invaluable in a time like this. It’s everybody, you know, everybody has to care and understand how the whole machine works. And that is that’s what I’m proudest of, in the, the work that we’ve done in innovation. You can’t innovate in a bucket. You can’t run a city from behind your desk. You really have to understand how the pieces are connected, because the public needs it to be seamless. They don’t need to think about, you know, whose job it is or what phone to pick up and we need to be on the same page. And that’s where Baytown really did have an advantage going into this. We are very close as an executive team. But beyond that, you know, people in different departments have really strong connections to each other. In fact, we just got a email today from our municipal court that they need to do some e-jury stuff. I don’t really know what it means, but one of my librarians is really good at creating digital forms. So luckily, she was here. So, you know, years ago, the court wouldn’t have called the library to get help with a jury. But now, it’s nothing to pick up the phone and call a different department to find someone who can help you.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Yeah, absolutely. Well, and what a good reminder to have, you know, you put in the work leading up to something that you don’t even anticipate, but then you can quickly draw on those skills.

 

Jamie Eustace

Yeah, so that’s been that’s been the good part.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And so what have been some of the other kind of innovative or creative ways that the city has been able to respond or to kind of keep operations going? Because I’m guessing that that typically the majority of your employees aren’t working from home. Anything that’s kind of stood out from your, from your operations?

 

Jamie Eustace

Okay. Yes, Zoom has become everybody’s best friend. We didn’t even know we could do that. But it is it is weird. And that’s, that’s another piece where the work that we’ve been doing in innovation and processes has helped. There is a divide in every city, people who can work from home, you know, people who can cut payroll from home people who can do procurement and pay invoices. And then people who can’t work from home they have to be on you know, 911 operators, the guys in public works, people are cleaning the parks and mowing our grass. And what I haven’t seen is a lot of well, that’s not fair. You know why today? We haven’t seen that, really, because there is this deeper understanding that it’s all of our jobs to make the city run and everyone wants to do their, their part. I’ve read a lot, you know, across the country how some libraries are going into the homeless shelters and stuff, but we don’t have that situation because we’re not a county and we don’t run social services. But you know, we’re all people. And when the silos down, we just have to do our best to make sure that the ship keeps sailing and that the public doesn’t suffer for you know, not having a city or a county that can be responsive. So we’ve been super lucky. This is I think, I don’t want to say this has been fun because it is nuts it’s most days it’s pretty scary. But I’m but I’m really proud of the work that local governments have done and, and a lot of times this is you know, people listening will understand when it happens, people absolutely say to me, you have to go to work? You are a library, and that’s not essential. And, and I agree like the library part isn’t essential, but you understand we all work for your local government and it is your local government who makes your city run. Like that’s, that’s a small unit that makes your life what your life is. It’s not the federal government and it’s not the state. It’s the county and the local government. So yeah, we’re essential. Yes, we are. I am going to get a T shirt. Yes, I am essential. Yes. [Laughter]

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And so, you know, from all of this, what are the bells that can’t be unrung from COVID? Like, what is something that we’ll never go back to because this has, has changed us? And then what do you think is absolutely gonna go right back to the way it was before?

 

Jamie Eustace

Just to be clear, you’re not asking me if I’m going to color my roots when this is done. [Laughter] I am pretty sure I am.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

[Laughter] I am right there with you.

 

Jamie Eustace

Yes, I might not yet. I think, you know, I think the platform, I think this has opened a lot of people’s eyes too. And you know, I make fun of the Zoom. But why weren’t we doing Zoom meetings before? You know, why weren’t we using the digital platforms that are available to us? And I think the answer is we didn’t need to. But now that we’ve done this for so long, and you know, some cities, it’s a month, some are going into two months, we can operate, you know, you kind of find out what is important. And you find out how to be creative outside of that. So I think, I think that’ll continue for quite some time until we forget, right, but that the need to build the infrastructure for something with this in this case, we never imagined this. I mean, this is no one would have believed it. So to be closed for that long. That’s going to keep up. We’re going to keep finding ways to to reach our public to solve problems, where people would say, Oh, I can’t do that, because you’re not at work today. Yeah, yeah, I bet you can. We’re going to find ways. I think that this has taught us that we can be creative and solutions based under circumstances that we didn’t think, was that we couldn’t have even imagined. So maybe we won’t all work 40 hours in the office anymore. I don’t know. And the flexibility and creativity are going to stay until we forget.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And I can’t help but think that, you know, there have been so many memes and you know, jokes about people, when this is over, running outside and just wanting to be around other people. I can’t help but think that the library is going to be a place that people are like, like the woman that couldn’t not get her in her in her series, I mean, it’s gonna be a place that people might really look to right out of out of the gate to flock back to.

 

Jamie Eustace

Can I tell you what we’re gonna do? That’s so cool. And what we’re gonna do, I think, I’m sure is we’re gonna build we’re also dabble free. We dabble at the library here in public art. And we were looking for something impactful. If you ever seen a tree yarn bombed, yeah, because we’re not gonna, we’re not gonna do that, because that requires a lot of skilled knitting. [Laughter] I don’t have that. But we figured out and we actually figured this out before the crisis. We were going to do it for pop up parks to leave something last, semi lasting something semi permanent. So I figured out we think, how to wrap trees in a really colorful netting. So it doesn’t have to be knitted. And we’re going to do that. The library has some beautiful old oak trees with a lot of branches. And we’re going to wrap the trees with this colorful netting cloth and invite the community to come. We’re, I think we’re calling it the tree, the Hope Tree or The Tree of Hope, and they’re going to come write what they’re hopeful about on the tree. So to kind of have a reason for people to get out of their house eventually. But we want to be that spot. We want to create that piece of beauty here at the library. So we’re super excited about that.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

That’s beautiful. Well, and it’s also again, a way to welcome people back.

 

Jamie Eustace

To back yeah.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

That’s great. All right, so one last question for you. If you could be the GovLove DJ, what song would you pick as our exit music for this episode?

 

Jamie Eustace

I had to pick my favorite artist and unfortunately, he’s very Texas based, so maybe nobody’s heard of him. His name is Bob Schneider. This is a perfect opportunity to Google and look him up and play songs. But that song is called The World Exploded Into Love. And the lyric is the world exploded into love all around me. And every time I look around me, I have to smile.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Alright, well, that’s an uplifting tune. And hopefully we’ll open more GovLove listeners eyes to Bob Schneider.

 

Jamie Eustace

Bob Schneider. Yeah, you heard it here first.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

All right, well, we’ll play it. I’ll play a snippet of it at the end of this episode. But most importantly, I want to thank you for coming on today and talking with me about libraries and COVID.

 

Jamie Eustace

Yeah, thanks for having me Kirsten.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

GovLove is produced by a rotating cast of ELGL volunteers. We are the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. Our vision is to amplify the good in local government. And we do this by engaging the brightest minds in local government. A reminder that our full suite of COVID information and resources is online at elgl.org/COVID-19. If you have a story idea for us, we want to hear it and you can send us a message on Twitter or email [email protected] Thank you for listening. This has been GovLove, a podcast about local government.

 

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