While libraries have been shut down during the pandemic, librarians have kept busy. The Eastsider interviewed three librarians about how their job has changed since the outbreak began. Here's the second of those three Q&As.
Echo Park -- Daniel Tures, 48, was one of the manager at Amoeba Music for 22 years before becoming a librarian. Both jobs were very similar: event planning, people skills, and keeping track of a lot of inventory. The library was kind of like his second career. He started at the Hollywood branch and now bounces between Edendale and the Echo Park branch. Tures is currently the adult librarian at his neighborhood library, the Edendale Branch.
Here is our Q&A with Tures:
What do you do as a librarian?
Before [the pandemic], I [was] at the reference desk for most of the day assisting people with, you know, how to use the computer, making sure they're all working right, everyone's appointments happening at the right time and people are taking turns. And then, of course, helping people find books and answering phones. We'll have reference questions. And then we also do things like -- we do programs throughout the week, too.
How have your responsibilities changed since the pandemic?
Now, it's completely different. Back in March, we were told to get home indefinitely for public safety. We were doing as much stuff online as possible. So I did a lot of online programs, things on Instagram and YouTube, through our social media.
A lot of librarians were doing disaster service work. The mayor had a meal delivery program and there was a whole hotline for that. I was doing a couple weeks of answering the hotline, getting people signed up for the program, troubleshooting, redirecting and that kind of thing. Different librarians are doing different things, like some were staffing homeless shelters, a lot of them are doing contact tracing.
Recently, a couple months ago, they determined it would be safe and useful to do this Library To Go thing, so we had to organize that, how it was going to work, which branches were going to do it, how it was gonna be set up and the whole appointment system. People love it. It helps you stay safer at home and you can pick items from anywhere in the collection from any of the branches, so you have access to this huge collection.
We also have a lot of online services. I did a lot of training videos on how to use our movie streaming service and our music streaming service, getting people to use our online library search for which we had always invested in, but they weren't as well known or popular and now people are very into them.
We do a lot of programs in Zoom, which is nice because people from all over can attend without having to drive across town. I do a film discussion group and we have people from like New York City who used to live in L.A., and get to see their old friends.
So now, a couple days a week I'm doing online programs and social media, working from home and then a couple other days I'm here at the Echo Park library giving people their books and setting up appointments.
What's your favorite part of your job?
I love getting to see people come in and get their books and talk with them. I like doing my online programs now because I get to connect with people. Everyone is kind-of cooped up at home, so it's nice to get together in a little group.
I enjoy anything to do with art and music. I used to work at Amoeba music for 20 years before I was a librarian. I just made a Christmas playlist on our streaming service and shared that on our social media.
I actually got into this thing, by accident, over the summer doing a teen book club with this group called the Punk Rock Marthas who are a nonprofit that organize all kinds of teen volunteering and activism. We got books donated, mail them out to all our teens and then got everyone together on Zoom with the author. We didn't have a teen librarian in Hollywood when I was there, so I ended up doing that and that was pretty cool.
Was working at Amoeba similar to working at the library?
You know, it was similar (laughs). I was one of the managers. There's a big staff, there's a lot of customers and there's a big inventory to keep track of which always needs updating. We do events that are like programs, so a lot of it translated right over. There's a lot of people interactions and people skills, that's the same with the library, which is nice.
What is something you wish more people knew about your job?
Being a librarian isn't like the stereotype where you're sitting in the desk and shushing people. It's very active and interactive. We try to really get out and meet people, engage with people in all kinds of different skills and activities. Librarians are really fun. We're community members and we're out there in the community doing all kinds of events. We love engaging with people as much as possible.