Patron Driven: Hurry Up and Wait

Patron Driven: Season One Blog Series

Patron Driven is a new podcast series that tells crowd-sourced library stories where the personal and professional meet. Season one follows four library staffers whose library flooded due to Hurricane Harvey. Arriving June 22, 2020.

In the days and weeks following Hurricane Harvey, hurrying up and waiting is exactly what Jennifer, Mikha, Anne, and Allison did. On Thursday August 24, 2017, they battened everything down at the library,: unplugged the electronics, emptied the refrigerator. Then, the long weekend of rain. Harvey was Mikha’s first hurricane. “I was expecting it to be really dramatic,” she said. “But really it was just a lot of light rainfall for a couple of days.” That slow-moving surrealness came to characterize those first few weeks. It’s a way, I suspect, in which disasters are alike. There are moments of drama—when lightning strikes or the earth quakes or the river rises over the sidewalk and lawn—but afterwards time slows and the days grow tedious and incomprehensible.

On September 2, Lone Star College announced that classes would start up September 25, a month—to the day—after Harvey made landfall.

That month was one of slow rolling chaos for Anne, Mikha, Allison, and Jennifer. They had meetings on other campuses and in houses. They tried to wrap their head around exactly what had happened. Their emotions swept from horror to incomprehension to boredom and back to horror. It was hard to make sense of work when there wasn’t anywhere to go, when the physical objects they had been curating and lending were gone. It’s an experience many of us can relate to now, having spent weeks social distancing, venturing to the grocery store as infrequently as possible, wearing homemade masks and rubber gloves. At least I—and those I work with—will return to a physical space, our office building in Middletown, Connecticut. And someday many others will return to their offices or their mosques or restaurants.

All that awaited Anne, Allison, Mikha, and Jennifer were sodden books, floors stripped to concrete, and steel studs bare of drywall. They may have suspected it would take time to rebuild, but I doubt any of them could have anticipated the years-long odyssey they were about to undertake.

I hope that their odyssey and the lessons they learned provide some inspiration and insight to you as we all undertake journeys of our own.

— Mark

To find out how they did it, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts on June 22.

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