You can take the librarian out of the library…

How can I be a librarian from home?

I started thinking about this as I sat alone by my computer: can I be a librarian outside of the library? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that one could do a great deal from home as a librarian. As some might say, you can take the librarian out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the librarian.

a laptop and phone and mug on a couch
Image by Anrita1705 from Pixabay

After being told we would begin working from home, we were given one day to go back to our offices to set up or pack up what we needed to work remotely. This began a whirlwind of changes to the way I work, from new, purring officemates to turning my home into a modern industrial park. 

As a result of this crisis, I learned that I can forward calls from my work phone to my cell phone. So my phone on my desk back in the library can now find me anywhere in the world — talk about never missing a call! This new adventure is proving that I can do everything from home except hand you a book, and with the popularity of eBooks, I’m not sure that is such an issue.

While I am working at home, I am staying connected to other TCL staff members. It turns out I am talking more than before with other librarians and library staff across New York City and Long Island. I was getting so many emails, I had to make more email folders to organize them; I think the contents of my inbox increased tenfold. We have now added Microsoft Teams and Zoom to our communication toolbox for quick chats and video calls. And to think, I grew up with a desktop rotary phone. How times have changed!

Professional development has also been part of our work-from-home time. Using Microsoft Teams and Zoom, we have been able to improve our skills online, from home. These tools make me feel like I am living in the world of the Jetsons.

I have an office, but I do not sit in my chair in that room all day. I am finding it easy to be involved in things around the house, too, and I am pushing myself to accomplish much more in a day. Sometimes, it seems like I am getting less done, and other times, like I’m getting a lot more done — I don’t understand what is driving me, but it might be not driving: skipping my daily commute saves me about two hours every day.

It became apparent right away that I would have to set some rules for myself in order to be most productive. I get dressed for work to get into the work mentality, and I listen to music while working. Instead of listening to books on CD in the car, I have been listening to them in the kitchen while making dinner.

While I haven’t been using my car much, I have been running the dishwasher a lot more since I have been working from home. I am also using our Crock-Pot and bread machine more, and we are eating dinner hours earlier. As I move around the house, I am using breaks to do laundry, so I am catching up on laundry, too.

That laundry isn’t all mine. Back to the topic of being alone…I am actually often not alone. One of our cats hangs out with me, serving unofficially as my office manager (although I have never had another manager that liked to lounge on my laptop). 

I was not home alone long before other family members were also sent home to work. This has been nice, as we can eat lunch together, and we have three rooms upstairs, each with their own computer. With this switch, we now have three employees of three different companies working under one roof. Does that make my house an industrial park?

a cat sitting in a desk drawer and looking at the camera
My co-worker’s desk is a little too close to me. Photo by Joan Wagner.

Between family and pets, I’m not so alone, after all. In fact, it might even be considered crowded — especially if you take into account the number of attendees in our many Zoom meetings.

This post was contributed by Joan Wagner, Chief Librarian at the School of Health Sciences

2 thoughts on “You can take the librarian out of the library…

  1. Laurel Scheinfeld April 21, 2020 / 9:48 am

    Hi Joan. Great post. I can relate to so much of what you describe. I don’t miss my commute but I am missing the chance to listen to audiobooks in the car. Listening while preparing dinner is a great idea, thanks.

  2. Aviva Adler April 22, 2020 / 4:01 am

    Great article; thank you! I regret not having had the opportunity to set up my work phone to forward to my home office. I’ve been giving students my cellphone number (my phone plan provides me with a USA number that rings directly to my cellphone here in Israel). Other than that, I’ve been able to continue assisting students and faculty with their research projects, submitting ILL requests, preparing and sending Touro College Israel students weekly research tips, and working on collection development. Zoom classes resume next week! Aviva Adler, Touro College in Israel

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