Investigative Reporting: the Illusive “Library Zoom”

by Ari Gordon, Opinions Editor
graphic by Kaila Hanna

Despite these “unprecedented times,” I never expected to attend a library Zoom call, much less write an article about one. 

I see these meetings on Schoology daily, inviting me — via omnipresent “requests” that require an extra, strenuous click to resolve the notification bell — to everything from book clubs to trivia competitions. I had never before entertained the idea of attending an optional Zoom meeting, let alone one run by the library. 

I, most certainly, am not the biggest fan of group activities, and I don’t particularly like the school’s attempts to organize spirited activities. I decided, however, that this would be a nice change from the autopilot quarantine routine that we all have been dealing with for the past few months. 

I went in with low expectations: none of my friends had even recommended to me that I join a librarian Zoom session, and I wasn’t all too excited to meet those responsible for the never-ending slew of Schoology messages I’d been receiving since quarantine began. 

After much deliberation — there were seemingly thousands of requests to choose from — I chose  “Group xWord Challenge” as my Zoom of choice because it seemed to be the most beginner-friendly. 

I joined the call to find two enthusiastic librarians and a group of 13 or so crossword enthusiasts welcoming me. Surprisingly, a greeting filled with the happiness and normality we all miss from pre-quarantine life set the tone for this call. 

Most of the attendees, to my surprise but no one else’s, were freshmen. At first I, a freshman, found that most of the attendees were freshman surprising, however I have since been informed that that is just my ignorant “freshman behavior.” Eventually, I came to realize that freshmen have the least experience with school, and therefore this break has left more of us with fewer connections with teachers and students. In addition, we have considerably less work than everyone else, and, in order to not go crazy with boredom, many of us have started new activities, like attending these calls. 

After a few minutes on the Zoom, I realized that as much as I had dreaded this call, the crossword-solving session was actually genuinely fun. I truly think the second anyone is working with others, no matter what they are working on, it becomes fun — this has grown abundantly clear in the abyss of collaboration that is quarantine.

As much as I typically dislike doing cooperative activities and avoid them when they aren’t required, there is something to be said for choosing to join a Zoom call: it just feels different than being forced to. 

Although I was not actively participating in this Zoom, it was refreshing to be doing something for the sake of fun. Being with a group of peers, who were there not because it was going to affect their future, but simply to do something they enjoy, is not common during quarantine. That, combined with the librarians’ constant excitement for activities, made for a call filled with people who were only there because they wanted to be there. 

Staying home for an unprescribed amount of time has made me realize that there is a lot I take for granted at school. Chiefly, the positivity that the teachers try to spread. That physically pained me to say. But yes, and although we primarily ignore their comments — or, more commonly, are bothered by their attempts during normal school days — I have come to appreciate teachers incessant attempts to make everyone excited about school.

As much as you don’t want to admit it, talking to your friends right now ends up making you feel worse because you can’t see them. Talking just for the sake of talking with someone who you don’t see every day of your life and aren’t going to be heartbroken to say goodbye to, however, feels different; it reminds you of when conversations weren’t actively scheduled and included everyone, not just your friends. Having a small part of your day return to normal is a step in the right direction, no matter how small that step is. 

Amidst the hypervisibility of racial injustices in America and the South community, and the imminent threat of the pandemic, this is a difficult time for all of us. Still, it is critical that we find pockets of fun. 

It is imperative that you take the time to clear your mind. So if you are feeling down, confused or just plain bored, do yourself a favor and join a library Zoom call; I guarantee you will have a great time and hopefully bring your day a little bit closer to a sense of normalcy. Who knows, maybe you’ll even learn to appreciate those ever-present notifications. Probably not, but still.