A time of crisis has a lot in common with a new pair of glasses. Often when it was time for my regular eye check-up, I never thought I needed new glasses. I’d put them on, though, and suddenly things were crystal clear even though up until that moment I’d never noticed they were fuzzy. In that same way, when life takes a left turn out of nowhere we often “see” things differently.
I expect the recent tornadoes that roared through Howard County did that for most of us. You might have seen how quickly possessions can vanish, how much you depend on electricity, what a blessing friends or family are, or the amazing privilege it is to eat a hot meal. Each person’s “glasses” are probably unique. One of the things that I see is just how much people need public libraries during times of overwhelming loss.
In the immediate aftermath, the greatest needs were information (Where can you get a hot shower?) and a safe environment in which to charge the devices that are our lifeline to the outside world. Within 48 hours, the first owner of a demolished business called looking for meeting space. As the crisis fades into the rearview mirror, what you most need from your local library will change but not diminish. The adrenaline already has begun to be replaced by fortitude, and soon the immediacy will give way to the long haul. As it turns out, long hauls are one of the library’s specialties.
Three months from now, or six months, or nine, we still will be shouldering an enormous burden here. People may be sharing cramped quarters at home or at work, finances may be strained, children may be showing the after-effects of trauma, stressors of all kinds will be piling up.