Back in the Saddle (kinda)

18 Aug

Like lots of libraries – and many other kinds of businesses and work – my library closed to the students, faculty, staff, and public back in the cold days of March. We worked remotely beginning March 16 and stayed that way all the way up to … August 3. Just shy of 5 months. Even living through it, it seems surreal. Our doors reopened with limited hours, a skeleton crew, and a whole lot of new rules (we wait to see how well people will comply) to hopefully keep us safe and free from exchanging the COVID virus that’s ravaged our societies.

I got through the months at home by doing a lot of streaks – songs, doodles, walks, the NYTimes crossword puzzle. I kept busy with things for work, but honestly struggled with the routine of working remotely. I’m not really made for it. I like the connection aspects of my job. I like coming into work. I like separating work from home. That whole work-life balance idea? It’s hard enough to balance it in our usual, virtually-connected world. Add remote working to it and … MALARKEY!

I have a lot of thoughts about these things – a lot of concerns for the future of work, i.e. how it will happen and some of the new norms we’ll accept, thanks to COVID. But that’s for another post. I also have several posts gestating about some of the really terrific professional development opportunities I’ve taken advantage of over the past months, including the vConference of the Medical Library Association and FORCE 11’s Scholarly Communications Institute (FSCI). I look forward to sharing them here, too (sketchnotes included).

For now, I’m just a couple hours away from a mini-staycation, getting ready to monitor the LibChat service at the end of the day, and taking advantage of a quiet office space. I’m enjoying doing exercises in my new copy of “Observe, Collect, Draw!” by Georgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, based on their wonderful book, “Dear Data” that came out a few years back. I loved their book and wondered how to ever come up with my own style for doing what they did. Fortunately, this visual journal is filled with exercises to help me do just that. I plan to have it accompany me on part of my staycation, for sure.

Longing for Home

2 Jun

I was in a supervisors meeting this morning and as has become the norm, we had some discussion about how and when we might return to the library after being away from there since mid-March. This is our new normal, to use a phrase that makes me just a bit sick to my stomach. Masks and tests and cleaning and spaced seating – all things to accept, get used to, plan for. At one point, my director said that we need to figure out who benefits from the library being open, as a physical space (because we’ve not missed a beat, in terms of working in this virtual environment). We think about our patrons – students, faculty, staff, clinicians. When and how do they benefit by reopening the library?

Upon hearing this question, I found myself saying, “What about me? I benefit from the library being open.” I don’t mean this selfishly. I’m not storming any gates or marching in the streets to protest the measures we’ve taken to control this pandemic, but that said, I’m tired of this virtual working world. The library – the physical place with my desk and my computer, surrounded by my colleagues, the cafeteria down the hall, the lawn outside, people milling about – I benefit from all of this. When you think about it, I’ve spent an awful lot of my life there. And it’s a life that I’ve enjoyed.

I can easily do the work that I do from home. I’m so very proud of the staff in my department, of all of my colleagues in the library, for how quickly and seamlessly we moved into this means of working. We have addressed every question, every issue. We’ve solved problems, taught classes, zoomed a thousand hours. We can do it.

I love my home, I love the slower pace of my mornings, I love starting my days with the NY Times crossword puzzle and my coffee. I appreciate doing my laundry whenever I feel like it. I like not taking a shower until the middle of the day, if I want. I enjoy taking a mid-afternoon break to walk my dog in the park. I’ve relished watching spring arrive – all of the baby birds, the baby bunnies, the plants blooming. I’ve been astounded by all of the neighbors I’ve met and spoken to. I’ve found a dozen different ways to nurture my creativity, to devote some time to it that I don’t always do when I’m in the routine of work. And I know how absolutely fortunate I am for my situation and I am most grateful for it.

All of this.

And yet.

I want to go back to work. I want to get up, walk my dog, iron my clothes, take a shower, pack my lunch, and head out the door. I want to sit at my desk, see the people that I work with, see the faculty and staff and students that I work for. I’m tired of emailing. I’m tired of zooming.

I want to walk out of work at the end of the day, drive down Shrewsbury Street, stop at one of my neighborhood pubs I enjoy, see friends that I know. I want to go to my guitar lesson on Friday afternoons. I want to play trivia on Wednesday nights. I want to enjoy being home on the weekend, because I’ve not been in my home all week. I want the boring, mundane, 9-5 work week back. I do! I miss it.

Typing this, I feel pretty petty, whining about all of this as my country seems to be coming apart at the seams. But I also cannot help but believe that there’s a connection to all of this. Whatever our “libraries” are – our work, our schools, our routines, our lives – they’ve all been disrupted. For months. Toss into the equation the horrible fact of systemic racism and a feckless, impotent, pathologically insane person in the White House and an evil-to-the-core leader of the Senate and of course we’re going to blow up. For every good and every wrong reason, we are going to explode.

So, yes. I want my library to reopen. For me. And I want yours to reopen for you, too. I honestly believe that we all need it. Now.

The Challenge Continues!

15 Apr

I know, I know… I’ve not posted any songs in a week. I have, however, written songs. They’ve gotten kind of silly, though, and not really worthy of recording and posting. For example, one is called, “I Don’t Like Peas in My Paella.” You get the picture.

I was inspired by Austin Kleon’s blog post about his own COVID-19 blast of creativity – making zines. I thought it was a super idea and followed his instructions in the brief tutorial at the end of the post to make a couple of my own. I thought I’d share one, in lieu of a song.

It was Monday evening when I made them, so this one I called “Monday Motivation.” (If you’re on Twitter, you know #MondayMotivation is a popular hashtag.)

I’ve found that being creative, even in the smallest way each day, is helping me cope really well during these days. It’s also reminding me of the importance of doing so every day. I hope I keep the habit going when we return to “normal.” That would be a wonderful silver lining!

I hope everyone is doing well and I will be back with more songs soon. Promise!