This week (29th July) I was able to visit my office for the first time since 17th March. The building I normally work in isn’t a library, but the first floor is dedicated to the ‘back office’ staff of the library service. Here you will find cataloguers and acquisitions staff, the inter-library loans team, open-access, repository and CU Press colleagues. As far as I know the whole building has been closed up for most of this period. It is looking like many of us will continue working from home for a long time yet (a year?), or some will have a blended form of work (home and on-site), because of this we were given the opportunity to book a slot to go into the office and retrieve things we might want or need. When I left work on that Monday many months ago I fully expected to be going in the following day, even though I suspected it wouldn’t be long before I was working from home. I took some things home with me in preparation but didn’t take everything and haven’t been back since.
At first I wasn’t sure I really needed anything from the office, then I began to think of a few things it would be nice to have, so in the end decided it was a good chance to pick up a few things. We were given half hour slots, met at the front door of the building and escorted to the office (wearing masks of course). In the end this half hour felt far too short and I entered a kind of blind panic wondering what I should grab.
Entering the office was sort of strange, it was just the same as months ago but it was empty of people. We had joked that we would find everything covered in thick cobwebs or strange mutated fungi, instead it was just a place I used to know…
There were a few items I had mentally listed in my head to take home – my office chair, and footrest, some personal items (a pair of shoes etc.), certain files. They were easy to put to one side, then I looked at all my files and folders (of which I have quite a lot) and it all became more difficult. Do I really need this? Is this just nice to have? Does that have instructions or passwords that might be useful at home? Are those documents all together in that file? Can I do without that for a year? Should I just take this home and get rid of it because it has become obsolete? I ended up leaving the office with a whole book-trolley worth of stuff (plus the chair of course) – sadly had to leave the trolley behind though 😉
I joked that it all felt a bit like a supermarket trolley dash for me, rushing round the office grabbing folders and notes! A colleague noted that for her it was quite unnerving seeing her calendar stuck back on March (which is also the way I sometimes feel – how can it possibly be almost August?).
One thing I did discover that I had forgotten about was a birthday present for a friend. Earlier in the year we’d had a couple of failed attempts to meet up to celebrate due to repeated flooding on the train tracks, and then before we could re-arrange Covid reared its ugly head and we were in lockdown. So at least someone is going to get a pleasant surprise in the post at some point.