It’s very strange to find yourself working from home when your job is mostly customer service orientated, but this is the situation I find myself in. I work in the National Library of Scotland’s General Reading Room, where my job is to help readers access the Library’s collections and answer their enquiries.
As a lot of my job involves dealing directly with readers, working from home requires some creativity. While I’m able to answer email and instant message enquiries from readers, I don’t have access to our print collections, which I often use in my research. Our team is still able to assist with queries relating to our significant digital collections, so I’m focusing on that. I have a desk in my living room, where I’m working on source lists for common enquiry subject areas, auditing our electronic resources and doing some online training courses. It’s very different from my normal routine – I usually have a 20-minute walk in and out of work and deal face-to-face with dozens of staff and readers every day. I have never worked from home for longer than an afternoon before, so 12 weeks is quite daunting!
To keep our spirits up, I’ve been taking regular walks with my partner, who is also working from home. We’re lucky to live 20 minutes from the foot of Arthur’s Seat so have been walking up the hill and along the crags every evening. It helps to draw a line under the working day, and some beautiful weather recently has helped to dispel some of the anxiety of this uncertain situation.
I’m very sociable and come from a big family, so the thought of not seeing friends or family for several months is also very strange but I’ve been keeping in touch via FaceTime, Zoom and various group chats. I’m also trying to make the most of spending so much time at home. I’m a terrible cook, so I’m using the opportunity to learn to cook some new healthier dishes, depending what I can find in the shops of course.
Finally, I have an endless reading list I’d like to make a dent in. I’m starting by finishing off Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light, and then I’ll move on to some books that have been on the list for a while, including Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and Simon Armitage’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in time for the release of the new film, although who knows when we’ll get to see it now!