Librarians adapting to COVID: Mrs. Martha Morales

Librarians adapting to COVID: Mrs. Martha Morales

Urmi Mandal, Staff Writer

I fell into my job as a librarian when my daughter and son were in elementary school. When they were in elementary school, I stopped working my full-time job, so I could take care of them. Since I had more time, as they got older, I would volunteer at their schools. I would do yard duty and volunteer in the library. I really got a more concrete feel of the whole job itself and how it was to be a librarian.  Their elementary school really liked all the help. The librarian wanted to take days off, and it was really hard to find substitutes. So I started substituting for her and I really liked what I was doing, and then I fell in love with it. I only worked during the school year. So when my children were out of school, and I was out too and when they were at a school, I was there too. My kids are now out of the district, but I’m still working because I love the job.

I’m currently working on a genrefication, which is basically reorganizing the library into genres. It’s a huge project, and I do it for the most part by myself. That takes up a lot of my time during the day, because basically, I have to go through all these books in our fiction section, and decide what genre they’re going to go in, I have to assign that genre on our web catalog. If I have zoom meetings, like the first month of school, when we had freshman orientation, I usually introduce students to the web catalog. We also have office hours during the day, you know, for students to drop in QA.

When we have a curbside pickup, a lot of my work during the week is prepping for the pickup. It is very time-consuming since I have to go and pull the books and email the students and try to do it safely. I keep my mask on and gloves and make sure everything is sanitized. I have to check out the books before the students get there to make it easier for them to pick up. Because of the pickups, I usually go back to Irvington three days a month. It’s definitely unfortunate to hear about the new coronavirus case on campus, but our number one priority has always been safe in the library, so we’ve taken a lot of precautions. 

My main goal every year, whether online or in-person, is to increase reading interests in our students and to give them a passion for reading. We post engagement questions on google classroom to see what students are reading, and we used to have a jar in our library for any book requests. I usually read 20 pages a day to see what books I want to recommend, and I’ve been able to do that a lot more during the quarantine. Right now, I’m reading Educated by Tara Westover. It’s a memoir about how she was raised in a very strict Mormon family so when she was younger, she was not allowed to go to school. It’s about being in an environment where all you know is what your parents have taught you or what they have exposed you to, so you are basically isolated. And then, she takes a test that allows her to attend college, and she’s trying to figure it out. It’s very interesting. I’ve also read Whisper Network by Chandler Baker. It’s a murder mystery, but it’s not gory. It revolves around these women attorneys who band together to move up in their law firm despite their misogynistic boss, and it’s one of my favorites I’ve read recently. 

My favorite thing about my job has always been interacting with students. When I worked at the elementary school, I would have ‘read aloud’ time with classes, and those times were my favorite moments. I’m hopeful we get back soon, I miss seeing everyone.