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: Sara Belmont
Title: Web Developer
Department: Digital Services
How has your work changed during the pandemic?
The first couple of weeks were a flurry of activity to adapt the Libraries’ website to make access to our new services easier to find, and help staff transition to working from home. I’m spending less time on specific web projects I had lined up, and more time on communications, tech help, and figuring out how to manage multiple Teams channels, Slack groups and email without being overwhelmed with notifications!
What are your challenges?
The initial tidal wave of instant messaging was one of the immediate challenges. I remember feeling nostalgic about the ‘90s when I had one program (ICQ) that managed my Hotmail, AOL, and whatever other communications platforms were popular back then. I actually prefer messaging over email, but somehow Teams has been harder to adjust to.
Switching to remote work was an easy transition for me - I occasionally do work late in the evening anyway because that’s when we have the least traffic on our websites, and I can make updates without affecting as many people. My husband works from home, so we have a dedicated office, and I have a fairly powerful home computer that I can do almost anything on. Unfortunately, that same computer is what I use to play video games with my friends in the evening. I easily spent 12 hours a day in the same small room with my spouse that first week! Since then, I moved my equipment out of Swem and set up a second office in a spare bedroom. It’s a bit lonelier by myself, but there’s less hardware and cables for my two cats to mess with, so I get to spend more time with them.
What has surprised you?
This isn’t a surprise, but I love how understanding and accommodating my colleagues are with this new reality. I’m amazed at their ingenuity and desire to continue “real life” activities in a virtual world. Before, a group of library and IT people would get together for Thai every Thursday; we’re still doing that – just ordering pick-up and meeting on Zoom instead. It’s a part of my week that I’ve always looked forward to, and thankfully, I still can!
What do you miss most about being in the library?
Definitely the students! I have a student employee that works with me on our websites, and I miss being able to just talk and hang out with her. I miss not having students around: being around the younger generations gives me so much hope for the future, and that hope is what we really need now.
Anything else you’d like to share:
When setting up a home workspace, it is important to leave enough room for your feline coworkers to stretch out in front of your keyboard. Yes, they will occasionally make all of your windows go full screen, or decide you need to start screen sharing your desktop during a Zoom meeting, but their contented purring is well worth it!