Shelter from the cold wave and Internet congestion are the stories at the library this week. Monday morning saw a huddle of bundled, hooded folks waiting for the doors to open. If they were turned out of the homeless shelter at 8 a.m., as is the custom, then they had a 2-hour wait to get in.
USA Today had an article on Wednesday, Cold snap 'horrifying' for homeless, detailing measures that cities are taking to accommodate people with nowhere to go. Birmingham, Alabama has set up a "warming center" in an auditorium.
The library was clearly serving as a warming center this week. By Tuesday afternoon, all of the several dozen upholstered chairs in the reading areas were occupied, which I don't remember seeing before. Many others occupied carrels in the wings. We had no problems, though. Everyone found something to read and "unchilled" in comfort.
The winter break from school was still on, and all those students online at home caused some network congestion, as they do every year. We had problems with users unable to connect to Yahoo, to claim their weeks for unemployment compensation, and in one case, to even get a Google search page.
Today public school resumed, the cold relented a little, and calm returned to the library. The homeless white guys sat in the sun on park benches, and kids from the Life Skills Academy were glad to see each other after the break in the park gazebo. A group of boys gathered around an ornamental iron trash receptacle, drumming upon it and rapping together, as I sat with my book, coffee, and cigarette after supper.
The evening shift was very quiet. I caught up on my professional reading, and was content in the company of our new supervisor, M., and with our new shelver, C., both former bookmobilers like myself. "The Marines of the Library." Hooah!
They say there is a chance of sleet in the morning, and more freezing temperatures. I am wearing heavy sweaters that I haven't been able to wear in years.