It may not seem like winter, but the Solstice is right around the corner and fall will officially cede its time over to Jack Frost. For Minitex staff on campus, the fall months were spent acclimating to a very different workflow as we rebooted physical item services in Resource Sharing.
In the Referral Processing Area (RPA), staff are on-site five days a week processing referred requests to receive and ship, as well as returns from borrowing libraries. Staff is socially distant and schedules are staggered through the week as much as possible to ensure limited staff overlap while still managing an efficient turnaround window.
Items that arrive are quarantined on-site for 24-hours before being distributed to staff to process. Delivery typically unpacks shipments on a Tuesday-thru-Saturday schedule, allowing for a built-in “flex day” in which RPA staff can catch up on returns if items are backed up. Currently there is no student staff on campus (RPA typically employs 4-6 students), so this extra day is very helpful for staff.
Delivery staff has been cross-trained to assist in campus item retrieval and scanning which, in turn, helps balance the on-campus hours for the Campus Locations staff. As the volume of requests for campus items has not dropped as significantly as interlibrary loan, the on-campus staff working on retrieval and scanning have been quite busy since the Summer months.
The majority of campus staff have tasks that can be done from home. Some staff have been cross-trained on new tasks that allow for a work-from-home/on-campus balance in their schedule that they didn’t enjoy before. This flexibility has helped alleviate some of the stress from working on a nearly empty campus and currently nobody on the Minitex staff is required to work on-site after dark.
Staff are also working on creating videos for their work processes so other staff can be trained while maintaining social distancing protocols. Currently we don’t plan on having students employees throughout the Spring term, but these videos can potentially be used as training tools for incoming student staff in the future.
It has been a challenging year to say the least, but we’ve learned a lot along the way as we head into 2021 with positive energy. We are committed on all fronts in maintaining a healthy work/life balance for our staff while maintaining the efficient service our libraries and patrons have come to expect from us.