On Tuesday, June 23, 2020 the Health Sciences and Human Services Library staff participated in a virtual hour of service. Library staff were encouraged to set aside an hour of their work day to serve the community. Participants chose the charity, non-profit, or service of their interest and provided an hour of their time. The idea was to do something as a group to come together virtually and spread kindness in a difficult time.
Twenty-three staff members participated in a variety of service avenues. Several staff members took to the streets to pick up trash or weed in local parks and others donated food, blood, personal hygiene items, or money to local charity organizations. Some staff members took on more personal service including preparing a home-cooked meal for essential worker-neighbors; or another spread words of kindness and encouragement through hand-painted rocks hidden in a park. Some staff members took the virtual hour of service literally and volunteered their hours to transcription of archival resources, online poetry readings for incarcerated individuals, or participated in online email and text campaigns for social justice movements.
The hour of service had unanticipated outcomes for participants as well. For example, several staff members commented on connecting with new neighbors and making new friends while out collecting trash or weeding in the park. Others learned more about the challenges and climate in their own communities through ongoing participation in food delivery and collection programs aimed at helping seniors and high-risk citizens. Jarrod Irwin, Consumer Health Coordinator in the Regional Medical Library, participated in the Smithsonian’s online transcription project with the Freemans Bureau Papers; this experience provided Irwin with a better historical perspective on current issues. He stated, “These letters suggest that even during Reconstruction, when U.S. leaders were actively trying to integrate formerly enslaved people and their families into society through education and other means, the need was so much greater than they apparently allowed for. A disappointing and distressingly familiar problem a century and a half later.” The day provided a variety of avenues for the library to come together to make a better place.
A list of organizations impacted by the HS/HSL’s Day of Service:
- Free Minds Book Club: https://freemindsbookclub.org/
- American Civil Liberties Union: https://www.aclu.org/action/
- Smithsonian Digital Volunteers Transcription Projects, Freedmen’s Bureau Papers: https://transcription.si.edu/instructions-freedmens-bureau
- Assistance Center of Towson Churches: http://actconline.info/
- Dogtor Loki’s Hero Healing Kits: https://elm.umaryland.edu/elm-stories/Elm-Stories-Content/Dogtor-Loki-Continues-to-Make-Her-Rounds-During-Pandemic-.php
- National Bail Fund Network Artwork Sales: https://cfeblm.squarespace.com/
- Meals on Wheels Maryland: https://www.mealsonwheelsmd.org/
- Southern Poverty Law Center: https://www.splcenter.org/
- Columbia Community Care: http://columbiacare.live/
- Humane Society of Harford County: https://www.harfordshelter.org/