“These are the times that try men's souls,” Thomas Paine wrote in 1776 as the American colonists sought to break free from Britain. But it’s not a great stretch to say that the present time is trying the souls, the nerves and the patience of all of us — men, women, and maybe especially children — as we wait for the coronavirus threat to pass.
We’re trying to keep everyone at least six feet away. We’re not meeting in groups of more than 10. Schools are closed, sporting events are canceled, stores are closed, seasonal festivals have been canceled, gyms and beauty shops are closed, even our libraries have been shuttered.
This is hard on everyone, and maybe especially the children, who in many cases are cooped up at home without much to do, when they’d much rather be at school, learning and socializing with their friends.
And not knowing when this state of suspended animation will end makes it that much harder to take. The governor has ordered Connecticut public schools to stay closed until at least April 20, and he has also said it’s possible that they won’t reopen until the fall.
However, area libraries are coming up with innovative ways to bring a sense of normalcy to patrons, including offering video story times that can be accessed online.
The Southington Public Library has made videos of Molly Virello, a children's librarian, reading books as a project for the American Library Association and the Specialized Cooperative Library Association. She called the project “Storytime Anytime.” The Meriden and Wallingford public libraries shot their first videos on March 17.
“We're just hoping to give parents and children an opportunity to connect with people they are familiar with and strengthen early literacy skills,” said Meg Cavicchi, head of youth services at the Meriden Public Library.
The Wallingford and Cheshire libraries are having patrons stream the videos on Zoom, a video and audio conference application. Libraries are posting story times on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All these libraries and their staffs are to be commended for making lemonade out of the lemon we’ve all been handed.
Having opened this piece with a quote from one sage of the Revolutionary era, we shall close with another, this one from Benjamin Franklin.
“Leisure is the time for doing something useful.”