The following article was written by MPL's Marketing Associate, Tim Gadzinski.
You know how someone can make a throw-away comment—maybe it’s meant to be a joke or a it could be a bit of a dig—and it winds up getting stuck in one’s craw? The person or people that expressed this sentiment might not even remember that they even made the comment as time passes, but the person or group of people at whom the barb was leveled just can’t shake it. Can you relate to what I’m talking about?
Well, one such statement was made regarding the goings-on at Manitowoc Public Library during the early days of when we had to close our doors to the community during the teeth of the COVID pandemic. So, essentially two years ago. Personally, what was said bothered me then and it still annoys me now. At the risk of propagating a blatant falsehood, here’s the commentary:
“What are they doing in there? Probably just sitting around drinking coffee and reading!”
Which couldn’t have been further from the truth, even though I suspect that most everyone on staff would’ve applied for that “Drinking Coffee & Reading Books” position had it actually been posted! In reality, we got down to the business of throwing ideas against the wall to find out what stuck in order to be of service to the community during that difficult time. Everything from almost instantly initiating Curbside Pickup to facilitate the distribution of library materials to a vast array of virtual and Grab-and-Go programming. There was definitely some coffee guzzling involved, but sitting around and reading? Hardly. Of course, not everyone believed that this is what the library staff was doing, but there was a sliver of the population that did.
A fellow MPL staffer during that time said to me that it was too bad that there wasn’t some way of getting word out to people about what was going on behind-the-scenes that kept the Library humming even though the doors were temporarily locked. I agreed that it was a good idea, but the timing didn’t seem right to create such an initiative. Everyone—in general, not just at MPL—at that point was so busy trying to plot a course through the pandemic with so many question marks present regarding almost every aspect of our lives that it didn’t feel like the time to attempt to relate this narrative about MPL to folks with justifiably a lot on their collective mind.
However, the concept of creating some type of programming that would get word out to the community about our staff as a whole remained in my thoughts. Patrons definitely know our Service Desk staff; they don’t have much exposure, though, to the (in many ways) unseen people that help to create the overall picture of what’s going on at MPL. My officemate and marketing partner, Emily Brandt, and I never stopped bouncing ideas around on how to generate this type of awareness.
And we think that we finally hit upon something that’ll do the trick: an online talk show called, “MPL Insider: Beyond the Books.” It’s going to be a fun look at what makes the Library tick and is intended to demonstrate that the people that keep MPL moving forward aren’t just cogs in a knowledge machine—they’re an interesting batch of folks with stories to tell and quirks aplenty.
We hope that you’ll join us for this behind-the-scenes look at Manitowoc Public Library staff, services, and events. Will there be trivia? Without a doubt! Will there be foolishness? We can pretty much guarantee there will be some of that, too! Each free-wheeling monthly episode will broadcast LIVE on both our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/manitowoclibrary) and YouTube channel. The first installment will air this Thursday, February 16, at 12:30 PM, and our very first guest is none other than Therese Horstketter, MPL Volunteer Coordinator.
The format of “MPL Insider” was very much born out of the conversations that Emily and I have with our coworkers in our office, which tend to skew a bit towards the irreverent and almost always are extremely nonlinear. Hence, “Insider’s” tagline: “Always on time, rarely on topic.”
Please join us LIVE for a fun and entertaining conversation. We’re of the opinion that you’ll be glad you did!