Telling Our Stories: Essential@Western During COVID-19
- digital images (11) + -
- documentaries (documents) (5) + -
- University Archives (11) + -
- This is a photo of me working in the library--actually, a photo of me in a book in the library. I have worked various on-site shifts in the library over the past year: providing curbside service, processing interlibrary loan materials, and scanning requested articles and book chapters. Searching for materials in the Northwest Collection of the Wilson 4 Central Reading Room, I spotted the blue spine of a book in which my wife was interviewed as a commercial fisher in Alaska many years ago. I'm in the lower photo (in the water) with my wife Rebecque and my skipper Don, beach seining for salmon on Kodiak Island. One of our holding skiffs in the background is already half-submerged with the weight of fish (photo in book credit: Leslie Leyland Fields). I've thought about whether the metaphor of fishing applies to searching for and pulling library books from the vast pool of volumes at the Western Libraries. It doesn't. Having LC call numbers, well-organized stacks, and a computerized inventory system to locate an item is an infinitely more efficient method of retrieval than setting a 150 fathom net on a lone jumping fish.
- Have you used Western Libraries curbside pick-up? If so, then I may have been the one to roam the stacks and pull the book off the shelf for you! I have been committing a few hours a week to be a "searcher" for the Summit and Curbside pick-up system in place at Western Libraries during the pandemic. Here I am in the iconic Reading Room in Wilson Library, where the Northwest Collection is kept. It is fun to find the various books, although roaming the stacks with practically no one else in the building is eerily quiet. Someday soon, though, eager learners and scholars will be bringing life back into the library; I look forward to that day!
- Stacks in the Dark - Once a week I venture into the dark and mostly silent library to retrieve and scan from books to fill course reserves requests. It's faster to navigate stacks without turning on the lights, so I bring my phone and a trusty flashlight, plus nerves of steel for dealing with creepy sounds and shadows that have no obvious explanation. Once I'm done scanning the week's requests I finish processing the PDFs at home, where it's cozy and not at all creepy :)
- Empty spaces. I am lucky to be able to come to the library once or twice a month to work. Usually I have the building to myself or maybe a few other library staff are working on other floors that I may see in passing and wave to our talk to from afar. It is very quiet. I come in to distribute ppe supplies or work on projects that support our library staff and building. Usually the library would be very busy on a normal Thursday afternoon when we were open to the public. Campus is quiet too and missing all of the students and staff. It is easy to find parking spaces. I may have to wear a name tag when we all return to work because my coworkers may not recognize me with my long hair and extra 10 pounds!
- Parking Enforcement Our role on campus seems to have been highlighted since the campus closed in March of 2020 and continues to increase now as we are slowly reopening. We have always focused on helping students, employees, guests, and visitors find and park correctly on campus. As we are an easily recognizable, welcoming, and safe presence for anyone arriving on campus, we have been even more focused on answering questions and assisting everyone we encounter however we can. This work is rewarding for us and we look forward to the day when all the students and our fellow employees return to campus. Kevin Jenkins, Pete Elich, Allan Pack – Parking Guides; Hailey Grainger – Student Parking Monitor
- When March 2020 brought the lockdown to Whatcom County and WWU we all left the Viking Union having no clue what we were in for. The custodial staff and myself were deemed critical and we found ourselves working in a virtually empty building. It was kind of surreal. It was like time just stopped, which gave us the time to stop and think about the time we now have. We accomplished cleaning projects that hadn't happened because we didn't have the time. The custodial staff took the time to complete trainings and gain certifications. We spent a LOT of time figuring out how the Viking Union would open up again. How it would operate, how it would look, how many signs to hang... Then time passed and we are open to students, staff and faculty in a safe manner and it feels so good! We are creating outdoor seating areas, installing new art and getting creative ideas on how meetings will be like. WWU and Viking Union aside, I hope and feel we ALL will come out of this pandemic in a better space, and time.
- Not all Western students know that we have a farm on campus - but we do! The Outback is a 5-acre organic farm south of the Fairhaven dorms. We grow vegetables, mushrooms, fruit, berries, nuts, and have chickens and bees. The Outback offers year-round experiential farm and homesteading classes and holds workshops and events, like our current speaker series on Food, Farming, Diversity, and Justice. Unlike a lot of the WWU campus, we did not shut down when COVID hit. Our student staff of 8 are considered essential workers and continued growing food and maintaining the farm. We helped create the free food pantry popups to get fresh food to hungry students. We follow strict safety protocols and are excited to slowly welcome back volunteers and folks who want to learn about the food system!