Looking for a way to spread cheer during the holiday season, the East Providence Public Library staff joyfully hit the road to sing carols in the community. The year had been challenging for so many. Patrons missed coming to programs at the library and the staff missed their patrons. Spreading some good, old-fashioned holiday cheer seemed like a sweet and simple way to bring the library out into the community.
A group of library employees (and some of their family members) volunteered their time to sing during one afternoon and one evening in the week before Christmas. Two weeks before, Public Services Librarian Michelle Perry posted a flyer and sign-up sheet to the library’s Facebook page and the response was immediate. Patrons were delighted, grateful, and excited for this event. Some scheduled visits for elderly and homebound relatives. Another wanted to put a smile on the face of a loved one battling cancer. And still another asked if the staff would sing outdoors at a nursing home. On the first day, the carolers made their last stop at the mayor’s home. The mayor was so thrilled that he did a live Facebook video of the carolers and introduced each library staff person to his audience. His video, which was also posted to the City of East Providence’s Facebook page, has since had close to 6,000 views and generated over 50 comments.
Calling themselves the Lyrical Librarians, staff visited 15 households scheduling visits 15 to 30 minutes apart. Michelle planned the stops, organizing them geographically from one end of the city to another. Each caroler received a list and a map to download to their phone as well as lyrics to 10 or so carols. Given the cold (and their voices), the singers quickly learned it best to stick to the same four or five songs. Due to the pandemic, each masked staff member traveled separately so parking could be tricky on smaller streets. The evening event also made it difficult to see, but Michelle provided the carolers with battery-lit Christmas necklaces and headbands and Santa hats, and she came dressed as a Christmas tree!
At one of the stops, neighbors walking their dogs stopped to listen and began to sing along. Other neighbors came out to their porches and joined the physically distanced fun. In times of such uncertainty, it was wonderful to see people singing and dancing and safely enjoying the moment. Library staff with the tag line "we don't claim to sound good, but we guarantee fun!” made it happen, and, for that, both patrons and staff shared very special holiday memories. A new tradition begins.