By Regina Duffy
There is no denying it: 2020 has been difficult in so many ways. Even Time Magazine agrees. The cover of their December 14 issue boldly states that 2020 is “The Worst Year Ever.” It is hard to argue with that logic. With a worldwide pandemic, the contentious U.S. Presidential Election, as well as other national crises coming to a head, including social and racial justice issues, the unstable economy, and environmental problems, it has been beyond challenging.
The year has affected everyone in some way. If we take the time to reflect on the events of 2020, it can be hard to imagine a better 2021, but I think we should still be hopeful.
Looking for a bit of inspiration, in preparation for this blog I asked the Falvey staff to send “…thoughts about how we all persevered this difficult period and any positive wishes/words of encouragement for the Villanova community as we head into 2021.” When I look back at this, it is a hard task indeed. Did anything good come from 2020? What, if any, positives can we take from this year to make next year and the years that follow better for all?
I got a few responses from staff.
Demian Katz, Director of Library Technology, wrote that “2020 has been an incredibly challenging and exhausting year, but I am optimistic that some of the lessons we’ve learned will continue to benefit us in the future, even after the pandemic subsides. We have all been forced to come up with new strategies for communicating and meeting, and I think some of these things will actually help us to be more efficient and to stay more closely connected in the long term.”
Beaudry Allen, Preservation and Digital Archivist, shared that “…my hope for 2021 is the Villanova community continues to examine and confront the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. That the Aequitas: The Presidential Task Force on Race brings forth meaningful changes for all members of the Villanova community.”
Sarah Wingo, English Literature, Theatre, and Romance Languages and Literature Librarian said, “I really don’t have anything to say about perseverance because honestly I think that narrative puts a big shiny bow on a pile of garbage. This year has been hard, it continues to be hard, and the holidays will be hard as many of us will not be able to be with our families this year, everyone is just trying to do their best and make it through. That’s not perseverance, that’s survival. Mostly what I feel as this year draws to a close is relief that so far at least the people I love are safe and well, and gratitude for the support we’ve all been able to give each other through this extremely difficult year.”
I appreciate their honesty and gems of wisdom.
Their words got me thinking. Maybe the best thing to say about 2020 is that it’s almost over and that we muddled through the challenges together. We can acknowledge that it was hard and give ourselves grace. We are doing our best during a time that feels unstable and uncertain on many levels.
We all know that things were different at Villanova this year—We had to ensure a safe semester on campus. Services were modified, mask-wearing was enforced, in-person events were moved to virtual platforms campus-wide. A lot of hard sacrifices had to be made by everyone. The positive news is that faculty, staff, and students worked hard to adapt to the changes for the common good. And it really showed. We were able to successfully complete the fall 2020 semester on campus. Everyone should be proud about that.
Things certainly looked different at Falvey with the book stacks closed for public browsing and some seating removed. However, the Library staff were able to reimagine ways to support the VU community through this time. Throughout the semester, Falvey staff worked to offer some new services, including Contactless pick-up, scanning, virtual service desk, virtual events, as well as virtual librarian consultations. We hope this was a helpful support to the community.
So, while we know that the pandemic and the other tough issues we face aren’t going to magically end with the coming of 2021, hope is not lost. The truth is, we inch closer by continuing to do our best by opening ourselves up to learning, adapting, making hard sacrifices, and always remembering that sometimes it’s OK to be a little easier on ourselves.