Our library staff members are chronicling their experiences living through a pandemic. If you keep a daily journal of your experience, consider donating it to Swem’s Special Collections when the crisis has passed.
Name: Candice Benjes-Small
Title: Head of Research
Department: Research & Instruction
How has your work changed during the pandemic?
We’ve mostly been in crisis/transition mode, so my time has been spent in many, many Zoom meetings, learning about updates, sharing what I’ve learned with my team, and then communicating information to our faculty and students. I haven’t had a chance to do much research or instruction, which are my usual gigs.
What are your challenges?
A few years ago at a previous place of employment, I had to work from home while the library’s HVAC system was replaced. While that experience made me realize the importance of an ergonomic home office set up and the need for consistent communication with colleagues, it could not prepare me for the emotional toll of a pandemic. We’re not working from home during a snow day; we are staying home in order to save lives. It’s imperative we practice physical distancing, but I miss seeing friends in person, I miss seeing my favorite barista at Starbucks, I miss going to the gym. I’m grieving the loss of normalcy and the challenge is to accept what is out of our control, and find ways I can remain productive. I’m being more intentional about self-care.
What has surprised you?
I’m not surprised but continue to be impressed by my colleagues. The people on my team have worked extremely hard to meet the research and teaching needs of our campus, all the while being fully supportive and caring towards each other. I really miss seeing them in person.
What do you miss most about being in the library?
I thrive on collaboration; my work is always improved when I can bounce ideas off other people. But now I can’t pop in to people’s offices or take a walk with a colleague to chat or really talk to anyone without scheduling an official meeting time to talk on the phone or over Zoom. It’s a much slower and in some ways non-organic process.
Anything else you’d like to share?
One bright spot: I get to hang out with the sweetest coworker ever, my 18 month old lab Stormy. In this photo displayed here, she’s telling me it’s time to go play outside.