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I work part time so was getting messages from my job share partner that the office was getting a bit strange…a quiet atmosphere even though the time of year meant it would normally be busy and bustling.

When I got to work things – colleagues – were pretty normal but we were starting to see some managerial discussions going on and had the back ground of the UK news media ramping up information and discussion about organisations working from home. Colleagues at another university had already cancelled events and were preparing to go home but we kept getting messages saying we were still open even while we were being asked to sort out our equipment and VPN for working from home.

I discovered I couldn’t access my VPN because my laptop and phone is owned by my other employer and access requires admin rights I didn’t have. I heard people talking about buying laptops themselves because theirs were slow but had no intention of doing that. I am a member of the union on campus and know that that just wouldn’t be a fair expectation. I think the gaps in communications were just being filled by people wanting to sort out what they were doing. We are a very small team though, and our resources (most importantly, our Library Management System) are all in the cloud so when anyone feeling they were ‘vulnerable’ was asked to work from home, we did. There wasn’t really any need to continue in the office. And then the Government came out and said people shouldn’t be going into work.

The library was still ‘open’ in various ways for a while, as were some other University and public libraries. It felt like being given a choice wasn’t actually empowering. I know that there was worry about vulnerable users needing spaces but I’d have preferred libraries to have put their efforts into getting amazing services up and librarians trained quickly in online activities rather than waiting. I know there was and still is a huge IT effort, now via phone and email, to keep staff and students working and supported, which is great. It is interesting what was and will be valued about libraries in Universities after all this is over.

I did bring home a copy of each of the DVD titles that had just come in as they take a lot of time to catalogue and would be a nightmare backlog when we get back. And a laminated copy of our cutter system for our classmarks…the one very old school bit of info that works best on paper!

I work at home part of the week anyway so didn’t struggle with finding a place to work, or with working alongside my husband who also works from home anyway – we have plenty of space so are able to just move about the house. Going outdoors and enjoying the bizarrely nice weather was great – and I relished spending more time with my pets, an elderly dog and two young cats.

Because of all of this, I was a bit surprised by how awkward I found the transition. Perhaps waiting for others to get used to working from home was part of it. Being part time has felt much less positive now though. The number of emails seemed to escalate to include normal business and all the facilitation of the wider service going online. This did ease after a while but admin and meetings do all seem to take so much longer and then my hours are over for the week before I’ve gotten into any really meaty task.

I’ve realised there are some things I don’t have as firm a grasp on as I’d have liked. Perhaps this is in part being part time and not yet having fully briefed by job share partner and normally I suspect I get through this by having excellent colleagues a glance away…I can’t just ‘double check’ something easily by wheeling my chair back a bit and interrupting someone who doesn’t mind too much.

I’ve postponed one meeting (because we can’t access the data we need) so many times that my colleague says it is like Waiting for Godot!

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