April 6 is National Library Workers Day, and we’d like you to join us in celebrating the incredible work that everyone in the UMKC Libraries has done in the past year. Our last recognition of this day, in April 2020, was in the early stages of a shelter-in-place order, just as we were all starting to realize that those 15 days to slow the spread might become a long-term proposition. Over the last 12 months, each and every library worker has contributed in more ways than can be recognized in this simple message.
They all responded not only to quickly pivoting to remote work due to the pandemic, but also worked toward opening the libraries and providing a safe space for our university community. The ongoing crisis has made it clear that it takes a collective effort to make it through monumental challenges and it’s given us clarity on the inequities our workers face. Even within this context, they provided critical feedback on safe opening procedures and have taken on the work to ensure COVID safety protocols are followed.
They have provided the labor for alternative services to meet demands of students and other researchers. They developed creative ways to keep each other engaged in meaningful work, and not hesitated in some cases to completely change job responsibilities as the situation evolved. They found ways to support each other through the pandemic, recession, and racial injustices, such as creating public speaking practice sessions, issuing the BIPOC work equity statement, and continuing to advocate for fairer pay. Some of them even worked to further connect Libraries’ workers (including student workers) through mutual aid. They worked carefully through difficult tasks, built new connections and sustained existing, provided necessary critique to us as administrators, designed new ways of working and continued working through old, and overall are incredible colleagues.
This year’s challenges were extraordinary, and they underline our library workers’ equally extraordinary response in facing such challenges head on while working to serve the needs of the UMKC community. Indeed, many of the recommendation letters we received for the UMKC Living the Values award were for all library workers. While we were not able to give the award to everyone, some of this acknowledgement is taken from those letters and recognizes all library workers at the UMKC University Libraries.
We are so thankful for every library worker for everything they bring, both as individuals and collectively. They exemplify what makes libraries worth celebrating during this week, National Library Week.