Since the first lockdown, the one that seems like it happened in another age but in fact was just a little over 12 months ago, we have almost normalised a working environment influenced by the idea that you are and others will be subject to the possibility of infection, that people going about their daily business are a danger to one another. This environment is set to continue.

We have handed over swathes of our limited library space to desperate folk from other departments looking for the ability to sit 2 metres away from their colleagues and the many staff seeking their service. This distance is ensured through the use of broad black and yellow ‘do not cross this line’ sticky tape. It isn’t easy to remind others to respectfully keep a 2 metre distance from you.

Our PCs were and still continue to be appropriated, not inappropriately, to the important work of upskilling staff for Covid duties, and to ensure enough vaccinators were and are needle ready.

All the above equals unavoidable noise, trainers need to talk and staff need to talk to enquirers, and this together creates at times a busier sounding library than is ideal for the upcoming exam student or the apprentice working on their portfolio. Complaints? We've had a few, and the apologies from us trip off the tongue like honey. The usual recourse is blocked off because now of course, Tom, Dick and Mary can’t share headphones willy-nilly.

All the above ironically has brought us ‘closer’ to other departments (to IT, the professional educators unit, the vaccination teams) helping them with technological issues and transferring calls, and sometimes using their contacts to secure extra sanitising power.

Since March 2020 we have provided Covid Bulletins times 3. As a team we anticipated that the need for these would tail off. They haven’t, they are fuller and thicker as research in the area grows and changes shape, helped along by a fluctuating and evolving global pandemic situation.

We have strengthened our relationships with occupational therapy, clinical psychology and with our medical education teams by working together to support the health and wellbeing of all our staff and learners, raising awareness and resourcing for Covid fall-out issues. With input and thumbs-up from our equality, diversity and inclusion teams we have created a wide-ranging special collection of resources.

In many ways the pandemic has speeded up our virtual presence, with the production of how to videos, procuring more digital resources and in developing and delivering on-line training. This will continue to prosper in the future and who knows maybe one day we will be able to say virtual is as good as in-person, or maybe that will eventually cease to be a question?
I will finish by saying that I am proud of the way we have continued to provide an in-person face to face service with all the difficulties that have presented. But most of all I am proud of the library and knowledge service team and the resilience they have shown throughout the past year… and a bit. The team have actively contributed to creating a safe environment for our staff and learners, and of course for each other and to delivering a high quality service. Oh, and last and definitely not least, they have continued to develop professionally.

The End and thanks for reading!

Helen Rotherforth
Library and Knowledge Service Manager
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust