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What Info Pros Are Grateful For
by
Posted On November 3, 2020
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Heather McCormackHeather McCormack

VP of collection development and publisher relations at bibliotheca cloudLibrary

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

I’m grateful that I can help people, and we need to keep the circle going. Librarians, especially frontline staff, have had one of the toughest jobs during the pandemic: trying to serve their communities while taking care of their personal safety and sanity. In our own small way, I hope that my team and I have helped ease their burdens by creating relevant title lists for homeschooling, offering webinar refreshers on cloudLibrary functionality, and collaborating with book publishers to offer discounted K–12 content. And I cannot leave out the simple fact that my colleagues are caring, resourceful human beings. I suffered a detached retina at the end of April and was down for the count for weeks. They were there for me.

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

Because I was vision-impaired this past spring and summer, I gravitated to downloadable audiobooks. I was already a fairly experienced listener via cloudLibrary’s iOS app, but only being able to see 100 percent out of one eye while I recovered meant that listening became a more immersive experience, similar to how I read on paper. I consumed Blake Gopnik’s 976-page biography of Andy Warhol solely through my ears, tweaking reading speeds, volume, etc. That felt pretty epic.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

I have relished revamping cloudLibrary’s collection development philosophy and practices. Collection development is not traditionally thought of as a technology in librarians’ toolkits, but it probably should be if it’s going to effect positive change. We were already down the path of integrating own-voices books in our most high-interest lists so that we were not tokenizing authors of color. We did one better than that by starting to meet regularly as a team to educate one another about best practices, share frustrations and oversights, and celebrate small milestones. We’ve not only done meaningful, important work, but we’ve also had fun pushing ourselves to learn about writers, publishers, and readers outside of the dominant paradigm.


Charlie RappleCharlie Rapple

co-founder of Kudos

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

Flexibility, understanding and community spirit! My colleagues have been very supportive as my working hours and capacity have been disrupted by lockdown and homeschooling, and I am also grateful to those members of our team who are similarly affected but have kept smiling and kept the show on the road. More broadly, I have been reminded of how much I love the scholarly communication community, seeing how we’ve all come together. I’m grateful to researchers for pulling out the stops to accelerate COVID-related studies, and for groups such as “Remote Scholarly” (set up by Bernie Folan), where the community has come together to socialize and share experiences, intelligence, and gossip!

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

I was already a bit of a Zoom advocate, having been really impressed by how well it worked when I did a course on “overcoming imposter syndrome” with group workshops—I was amazed at how naturally participants from all over the world were able to chat and listen in a “room” together. During the pandemic, though, my “home office” (dining table!) made it difficult to use the webcam on my laptop (which normally sits underneath my monitor stand). So my favourite new bit of tech is the EpocCam app, which has enabled me to use my phone as a webcam. I’m also very grateful for Slack (both our company’s internal channel, but also community ones like Remote Scholarly) and Evernote (I’ve been doing a lot more sharing/collaborative writing of notes), and having had some “brain gymnastics” to do earlier in the year, I also experimented with a virtual whiteboard (Miro).

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

I find group meetings are actually a lot more democratic online. It is easier to look at everyone when you speak rather than having to favour one group over another or keep swiveling around. It’s easier to see who wants to speak, and the structures (e.g., add a comment, put your hand up—depending on your software) make that much less of a bunfight than it can be in a real-world setting. I also think it’s very positive that we all now have experience of remote working, which means that companies are more likely to be supportive of it in the future, and also that those of us who choose office working will be more empathetic and enabling of those who choose remote working. 


Amanda RossAmanda Ross

interlibrary loan librarian

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

I am most grateful that the community college library where I work has been able to prove our value during the pandemic. We have been helping students, faculty, and other departments function.

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

While working semi-remotely, the librarians have been doing our best to create and update online resources and, in that process, I learned about ScreenToGIF from a co-worker. It creates a GIF of your screen, allowing you to demo features you are trying to explain. It is free to download, and I’ve been using it a lot lately!

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

The pandemic has made us rethink our focus and even the nature of work. Some of it was long overdue and will be for the better, I think.


Kayla SiefkerKayla Siefker

head of media and public relations at Gale, a Cengage company

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

Amidst a pandemic, I’m grateful for my husband, Kevin, and our new dog, Hudson. Working from home makes it really easy to work long hours without a break. Walking and running with them ensures I take breaks throughout the day to reset my mind and focus as well as get some exercise. I’m also grateful to work for such a fantastic company like Gale, [which] truly puts its people first. They really care about making sure employees have what they need to work from home and do check-ins to see how you are doing as well as keep open communication about the business. I’ve seen the struggles that others have dealt with during this pandemic, and it makes me even more grateful (and blessed) to have a job that I really love in such an uncertain time.

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

This pandemic has given me a whole new love for Slack. The instant collaboration it provides is wonderful and eliminates the need for some meetings and turns them into quick conversations. That’s time back in my day!

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

I’ll admit, at the beginning of the COVID-19 work-from-home order, it was a bit tough for me to be at home all the time without physically seeing and interacting with colleagues. I really missed the ability to just stop by a teammate’s office to chat or those random hallway conversations. Zoom helps a bit, but it’s still not the same as in-person interaction. Despite this, Gale really encourages work-life balance, and I’m truly grateful for the flexibility that working from home has given me to do more with my family. I wouldn’t change that for the world.


Jan ZastrowJan Zastrow

consulting archivist and Computers in Libraries Digital Archivist columnist

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

During this time of isolation, I’m most grateful for access to the internet, which allows me to keep in touch with my colleagues and participate in professional association activities, and provides access to databases and websites to search for resources I need, both those related to COVID-19 and to topics of personal and professional interest. Imagine if this happened and we didn’t have YouTube to teach us how to make masks, Amazon to request books while the libraries are closed, or Netflix to relax with after a long day?!

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

Obviously, the video-conferencing platforms where we’re all spending way too much time: Zoom and Webex, and even the oldie-but-new-again Skype. It’s been surprisingly fun “attending” virtual conferences—and while I hate that we can’t all gather in person, it’s a definite bonus to be able to go back later and watch recorded sessions we missed.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

Having more time to catch up on projects and professional reading has been great. Also, working from home has provided the opportunity to take breaks during the day, to switch gears and go outside for a walk or a bike ride. It makes for a more natural rhythm, and I find combining intervals of work and play enhances creativity. It’ll be hard to go back to an 8-hour day in an office after this!


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Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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