Internationally, 2020 was a year of medical, social, political, racial, and economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. More than 7,000 Louisianans died while 173,000 were unemployed and all 710,000 K-12 students and teachers were sent into virtual schooling. Within the struggles of the year, the America saw its own horrors and beauty. Moving into 2021, The Drum sought Louisianans who are not only people to watch but are people who work for the community, for the demands of nation building, and for the growth of others. They are People for 2021.
For more than nine years, Kayla D. Perkins has worked at the East Baton Rouge Parish’s main library. She is now directly responsible for composing, editing, and producing its monthly newsletter, “The Source”. Perkins is also the in-house reporter for “Beyond the Stacks” a segment of the library’s monthly television show, “The Library Road Show”. With 14 convenient locations across the parish including the Main Library at Goodwood, her work reaches thousands of patrons young and elder. Perkins is a person for the moment, a Person for 2021.
The Drum asked Perkins about 2020 and her focus for 2021. “Last year was one that I’m sure we all are happy to see in the rearview mirror. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from 2020 was that we all need to take the time to nurture our mental and physical health. When stressors abound, it’s very important to have a solid plan ahead of time to help you cope,” she said.
What advice would you give others? Be patient with yourself and others. The times are unprecedented, and perhaps the best way forward is through patience and understanding.
What has been the best thing to do during the pandemic? There’s no need to be bored in quarantine, the library can help. You can read an e-book or listen to an e-audiobook in the Libby App via OverDrive, enjoy digital magazines with Flipster, enhance your skills or acquire new ones with Lynda.com, Gale Courses and Gale Presents: Udemy, get crafty with Creativebug, or stir up something delicious with a recipe from AtoZ Food America & AtoZ World Food. There’s so much more, all free in the digital library. All you need is your free library card.
What’s your motto for 2021? The library’s theme for 2021 is “Borrow the Books, Keep the Ideas,” and we invite patrons to enjoy thousands of free e-books, e-magazines, e-audiobooks and more. We offer a variety of learning tools and platforms that can help you acquire a new skill or broaden your knowledge.
This year I resolve to be more intentional about how I interact with and meet the needs of others.
How will you impact others? My personal intention for 2021 is to expand my relational capacity in all my connections with family and friends. Professionally, I aim to continue to be a part of the larger effort to meet the unique needs of our community, by keeping people informed about the library’s many free programs, events and resources.
What can we look forward to? This year, we are excited to celebrate the annual One Book One Community selection, “The Yellow House” by Sarah M. Broom. Patrons can look forward to a visit from Broom, along with Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of “The Revisioners,” in the spring. These two dynamic authors will be at the library to lead a free program for lively discussion about each of their books, and give insight into their writing process.
What are your successes? In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library has seen success as it has pivoted to offer several of its free programs and large events virtually, including the 2020 Mid City Micro-Con and the Baton Rouge Mini Maker Faire. We also have created hybrid options such as Garden Discoveries in which patrons can enjoy a social-distanced program in person, where safety protocol is adhered to, and masks or other face coverings are required; or they can watch the same program from the safety and comfort of their home as it happens, via social media livestream.
What are you reading? “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself” by Kristin Neff, Ph.D
What’s on your playlist? All songs Ari Lennox; Brunch for the Soul: The Podcast with Cynthea & RayLnn
What are you watching? For nostalgia, I’m currently enjoying reruns of “Girlfriends” and for something new, the series “Tiny Pretty Things.”