From Virginia to Madison, and now to Oregon.

Peg Watson, the Oregon Public Library’s new reference assistant, told the Observer she has been working in public libraries for 10 years, most recently part-time for Pinney library in Madison. She also goes to graduate school there at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she’s studying to earn a degree in the master of library and information studies program.

While she never planned on moving from her home in Virginia during a pandemic, Watson said she is happy she chose Wisconsin.

One of the reasons for the move was Madison offered the MLIS program. Watson said there are only 60 MLIS programs in the United States that are accredited by the American Library Association and UW-Madison was the perfect fit.

Since moving to Wisconsin, Watson recently bought a kayak and enjoys exploring the lakes around the state. As a bird lover, if she’s not out in nature, she loves to bring it home with her, with a knack of attracting several woodpeckers and flickers to her backyard.

She said she’s also managed to pick up some old hobbies to keep busy during the pandemic.

“After COVID struck, I noticed so many people biking that I decided to get my bike refurbished and give it a go again after many years of not riding,” Watson said.

As she gets used to her new home, she’s also adjusting to library work during the pandemic, as providing library services during the pandemic is significantly different than it was before. The library has been using curbside delivery, so the first thing Watson does each day is check emails and respond to the online curbside pickup form. If it’s an 8 a.m. shift, she’ll check the library voice mail. Watson is also responsible for scheduling appointments and helping circulation staff coordinate curbside pickup.

“Assisting patrons over the phone is now a bigger part of day to day tasks,” she said.

Prior to the pandemic, Watson said, community spaces were highly valued, but in the past few months, the library’s digital resources are receiving more attention.

“I am looking forward to working with the fantastic staff at Oregon Library as we navigate together to safely provide library services during the pandemic,” Watson said.