Pandemic arts and crafts by Olivia Bensimon


By Olivia Bensimon

Every so often at the end of last year, librarians received thank-you emails from older New Yorkers, grateful for the variety of online programs they’d been offering since closing their doors in March 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Citywide, libraries have proven themselves to be crucial centers for the community for years. And for older adults, the pandemic offered renewed proof of how invaluable libraries were to their livelihood.

What began as a distraction from the day to day, became something more as the pandemic intensified. The longer these older adults had to stay at home, away from each other and from their loved ones, the more they came to rely on these virtual workshops. They read and wrote poems, painted and created collages, expressed their anguish through art. They also found friendship and community. They found relief and a way to speak their mind.

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Thank you to Wanda, Susan, Elisa, and Holly, for being so forthcoming with me, and to Lyman Clayborn from the BPL for answering my emails so promptly and for putting me in touch with Wanda in the first place. Thank you to Kalli Anderson for the guidance throughout the semester! Interviews recorded between March 17th and May 5th, 2021. Music: Ranch Hand, Sandy Shuffle, Ether Ridge, and Fourteen Count by Blue Dot Sessions.