HS/HSL’s Virtual Hour of Service

Photograph of orange trash bucket and trash picker on porch step.

“I spent an hour on my busy street and filled up my bucket, only to meet a sweet neighbor, Charles, who spends his time keeping the other side of the street clean.” – Everly Brown, Head of Information Services, HS/HSL

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.

Happy Smiles Box photograph with canned goods and non-perishables for the community

“Happy Smiles Box created by kids in the neighborhood that has served as a “little library” at times and also has needed supplies, depending on what’s going on”. – Nancy Patterson, Network Engagement Librarian, Regional Medical Library

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.

Headshot of library staff on bike with helmet

“On Fridays I bike fresh produce from a local CSA to neighbors who can’t go and pick it up due to COVID. It’s been a really cool experience- I get to bike to neighborhoods I probably wouldn’t see otherwise, I get to test how much produce I can fit in my backpack, and I’ve learned about farming in the city (like you can grow fig trees?!)” – Gail Betz, Research Education and Outreach Librarian, HS/HSL

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:

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