At Home with the Collections Management Team

On March 23rd, our student employees returned to work from Spring Break, but not to the library. Due to the campus shut down because of COVID-19, our staff started working from home. Remote work is an interesting conundrum to figure out when 90% of your work exists in the physical realm. Our collections management team are in charge of reshelving and paging materials, preparing books for shipment to Cataloging, rehousing new materials, and everything else in between. Since the shut down, our staff have shifted to working on projects in ArchivesSpace, metadata remediation, and lots and lots of webinars and training. This situation has been difficult for everyone to navigate, but this group of students has demonstrated tremendous resilience. As part of their work, we asked for them to write about their experiences in working from home.

Tatiana

I never imagined working from home before the pandemic started. I really enjoyed the work I did at Special Collections so I am heartbroken, but grateful. At the library, I’d probably be reshelving books with my coworkers or listening to podcasts to keep me company. Working from home doesn’t feel the same. As much as I love my roommate, being with the same person for days on end feels a tad exhausting; especially since I can’t talk to them about my work. When I’m working on ArchivesSpace, my mind starts to spiral thinking about all the things that I wasn’t able to do. 

I was supposed to graduate on Saturday. I had already picked out my outfits according to the days I’d be at work. I’ll never get to finish cataloging my stack of books. I’ll never be able to get closure of saying goodbye to my coworkers. I miss the rush of having a schedule. I miss walking up the Civic Center parking lot and hiking that mile up to the library. 

Zoom meetings became something to look forward to. Monday OPS meetings helped me remember the days of the week.  It was the bit of normalcy that I needed during this time. I’d get happy solely when people said my name. Although these meetings were short, it was nice to see people’s faces and laugh about Animal Crossing. Now that I’m graduating, I feel sad that my life will change once again. No more Zoom meetings or Teams messages. I’ll miss my life before but I’ll always remember how happy I was when I was working at Special Collections. 

Jenna

My experience working from home, while not ideal, has been nice in some ways. I am someone who prefers structure, but I really can’t complain about sitting on my couch in my pajamas and doing work (although, the world is missing out on seeing me in some seriously cute work outfits). The work I’ve been doing has also been somewhat different. I’ve been working on reorganizing collections in our ArchivesSpace database which is not too out of the ordinary, but I’ve also taken the opportunity to learn more about librarianship through various webinars and trainings. While the experience is challenging and frustrating, I truly think that we will come out of this with a better understanding of how we can use technology to enhance the library experience. Already we are coming up with creative ways to keep our patrons engaged and I think that some of the ideas that have sprung from this will continue to help us post-quarantine. Other than that, I will say that my dog is not the best coworker and my roommate can be distracting, but I’m also happy to have their company. Of course I miss everyone in SCA, but I’m glad we are all taking the proper precautions to stay safe and healthy. If we do it right, we’ll be back to the library in no time! Until then, I’ll enjoy my morning coffee and bagel from home.

Heeseo

Working from home was difficult at first, but I managed to make a structured schedule of my own. I was able to access a lot of resources that helped me understand the ArchivesSpace database, especially in top container management. There were also training resources that I was able to obtain about digital learning and other online classes to educate myself as much as I can. Zoom meetings both inside and outside of work were also something I looked forward to with the lack of human interaction I was having. This experience also made me realize how much I love working with people in person and how much I miss my co-workers!

Nevertheless, working from home still gave me more insight into technology and the best ways to utilize it while working from home. In addition to school work and Special Collections, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family and spending time with my dog Leo! I hope we will all be back in the fall and continue with our regular routines.

Terryon

At first, I thought working from home wouldn’t be so bad but after a week or so I definitely felt the differences. Specifically, most of my routines regarding exercise and meal prepping have stalled so it has been a challenge to restart. But I’m slowly building them back up. Even though some exercise routines have slacked I have found some time to start learning the piano, drawing for fun, and trying to improve my solve time with the Rubik’s Cube. So far, my average solve time for the Rubik’s Cube is about 50 seconds but by the time the stay-at-home order is finished (whenever that happens) I’d like to have an average solve time of about 30 seconds. I’ve played the piano here and there but now I have the time to try and learn more scales and chords.

Even though working from home was a challenge at first, I’ve found it easier to optimise the work that I do have, and work on my ability to focus for longer periods of time. I’ve grown to miss in-person interactions with people but I’ve learned to settle for just hearing or seeing people through a computer screen! Hopefully, I will be able to see my co-workers in the near future!

Michaela

I’ve always been someone who loves creating a weekly schedule, but never has it been more important to do so then now. I’ve caught myself  once or twice not filling out my planner and boy, let me tell you, that was a nightmare! Additionally, while having my cat and dog with me and eating wherever and whenever I want has come as a pleasant addition to my everyday life, the hands-on, face-to-face work I did when campus was still open is something I now can’t wait to get back to.

Not everything has been doom and gloom. While in quarantine, the first thing I did was finish some preservation boxes I’d pre-measured to bring home. This work was one of my favorite things to do in Special Collections, so I really can’t wait to get back into it. I’ve also worked on a number of digitization projects which is awesome as I get to see so much of the content I’m currently away from. It also serves as a decent relaxer as I can crank this work out in a decent amount of time with few hiccups. Something I’ve taken away from this experience is how important it is to have options. I have taken advantage of this time to educate myself and enrolled in an online course which is teaching me about creating a digital cultural heritage community. Learning new things is one of my favorite pastimes, so what better way than to find a course geared toward my intended career path? This course is really helping me to stay sane through this transition and I’m optimistic that it will give me additional knowledge about the field of library sciences that will help me as I graduate and move on to graduate school. I’m glad I get to see everyone’s faces at least once a week and I have hope that we’ll get back to our normal routines soon. Until then, I’ll continue to work as hard as I can to contribute to everything that is thrown at me. Cheers!

Scenes from working at home

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