If you had told us in early 2020 that we would be able to run our library from home we wouldn’t have believed you. Thankfully the last year has been a great one for growth (although we’re hoping to be back in situ soon!)

We’ll get the obvious out of the way first:


By the 12th of March last year we had a rough business contingency plan together in case we had to work from home. This still didn’t seem to be guaranteed, but thanks to our links with libraries across the UK we were aware it was a very strong possibility and had lots of helpful information to help us prep.

On the 18th we sent ourselves links to everything we used on the day to day as it wasn’t possible to take our own computers.

At midnight on the 26th of March, lockdown started. We spent that day grabbing the go list we had on the back of the door and ticking off the tasks. We separated tables, put out sprays, removed computers so that social distancing could be maintained, put out hand gel, signs, one way arrows, renewed all the loans so no one had to return anything, and set the doors to only allow people with swipe cards entry.

During lockdown we argued with technology, struggled to make workable desks, and went for lots of walks – along with most of the country. The library team were also partially seconded, we worked to help set up a support line for staff, collate information for those in isolation who needed food delivered, and worked at the island’s COVID test site.

Our ability to keep up with most of our usual tasks alongside this was something that shocked us. We didn’t know how possible it was, but thankfully most of our procedures had been moved away from paper to electronic versions and we had web forms for services. We provided training over the phone, sent out articles, ran literature searches, and kept our users as happy as we could.

The first lockdown ended in June, and we were lucky enough to go back to work until January 2021 when the next one was announced. This time we felt more prepared, had refined slightly and ensured everyone had government laptops and phones, and could have one member of staff in the building each day. We were out by the 1st of February, but back into a more severe lockdown on the 3rd of March. Each one was slightly different, but during these periods we have been able to:

  • Weed the whole stock
  • Stocktake
  • Develop a Bulletin Board COVID evidence
  • Write articles for information literacy for the local press
  • Liaise with the microbiology team about new journal subscriptions to support them
  • Circulate library staff return plan information to Manx library network
  • Run a recreate a book cover competition for World Book Night


After the first lockdown period we began training a new staff member, this helped us to refresh our policies and inspired a new system of assigning tasks in the joint inbox.

Usually it is difficult for our staff to get to the UK to attend the training which is kindly provided by HEE, however because of lockdown, we were able to sign up for online courses. We took advantage and enjoyed learning more about creative thinking, facilitation, and social media marketing.

As we were allowed to return to ‘normal’ for the last 6 months of 2020, we were also able to engage in our usual user training. We ran our standard user training sessions, 1-1 sessions, and on demand training, but also got to engage with the local college and a 6th form and ran targeted Refworks and literature searching training for them.


Updating Resources
Something that has been on our radar for a little while is the need to update the library catalogue. We finally managed to arrange a move to Discovery and are in the process of finishing our testing – hopefully this will be rolled out soon.

We also had a chance to rearrange the library slightly, after a World Book Night book giving event we were inspired to move our fiction section. This not only led to an increase in the amount of fiction taken out of the library, but also gave us a chance to consider what else we could move. As hard copy journal stock has reduced we were able to condense the shelving, freeing up space to move our reference books. We were then able to create a wellbeing nook in the free space – a comfy area for users to sit and read or relax.


The last six months has also seen some big logistical changes:

  • We are moving from the Department of Education, Sports, and Culture to the newly formed Manx Care (to be completed on the 1st of May)
  • We have just undergone an NMC revalidation

We also had to restore library services once we returned from lockdown. This included restoring the library environment. We also had to highlight issues around student access to resources which had been altered.


Overall, it has been a busy year which we definitely didn’t anticipate! We are hoping that the rest of 2021 allows us to settle back into a bit of normality (fingers crossed), welcome and train our new member of staff, and work hard to ensure the information needs of our users are being met. 

Keyll Darree Library