Another year over, and we are still here. 2020 hasn’t been easy, but as everyone turned online for most of their social interactions, including learning, our job as your library community blog suddenly became much more essential. You might not be a big blog reader, you might be fed up with reading things on the screen at this point, which is why we are gonna make this wrap-up post short and sweet and full of nice clickable info for you to sail through to the new year.
Lúcia, your humble editor speaking over here: I am not the biggest believer that when the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December a whole lot is going to change. It is, let’s face it, just another day. And let’s be mindful of people who follow other calendars and for whom this idea that everything changes on December 31st is even more puzzling. Instead, I believe that for the year to be truly different, we need to change too, and we all proved to ourselves this past year that we are more than capable of change.
Having to think of others was always a priority: others’ circumstances, cultures, contexts, experiences… We always tried to be as inclusive as we can, bringing you information and sharing our authors’ personal experiences with you, in the hopes that they either resonate with you, inspire you, or maybe open your eyes to someone else’s reality.
Many have said that this pandemic brought people together. It may be so in some circumstances, but in my humble opinion, it also highlighted our differences. Many staff and students faced not only the threat of a disease but profound isolation, caring responsibilities, home-schooling, difficulty with access to tools, information, a physical shoulder to cry on, not to mention financial and personal difficulties.
Some of us shared experiences in that and it does make us closer, but others have faced troubles we can’t even imagine. I myself spent the majority of six months in complete isolation and subsequently suffered from Zoom and Teams fatigue, making the end of this year a confusing, tiring one. As I write this, I am currently in my home country, where there isn’t anything close to a vaccination plan for the near future, and the city I learned to call home this year, Coventry, was where the first vaccine in Europe was administered. You yourself might be reading this from anywhere in the world, so you can understand how odd this whole together-apart situation can feel like.
In the new year, we will have to continue to be resilient, and strong, and, more than ever, we should keep connecting with others, even if it is through a screen. If you can, reach out to a friend, check on your loved ones, see how they are doing. We are more than used to connecting via different technologies now. Let us take this unity to heart and truly bring each other close together, let’s prioritise social connection whilst maintaining physical distance.
The PhDLife has had a busy 2020. Most PhD students or researchers, especially in the humanities, are used to working alone. When we meet at the Wolfson Research Exchange in the library we have our share of socialising, but mostly you look around and you see people hunched over a pile of books, or frantically typing on their computer keyboard. One could say we are used to working in isolation from others: not necessarily a physical isolation, but more often than not we are working on things which are so specific it is hard to feel like others understand what you do. This year we saw this aspect heightened. We learnt the reality of Online Conferences, how to adapt to it. Some of us learnt how to adapt to the new circumstances and work on our own perfectionism. Others learned how to adapt their home working environment, how to accept that we all need some time off, how to cope with the academic gold rush, managing time, and everything in between. We had people write about their own specific research topics, their experiences taking part in online events (presenting, networking, or even singing!), how to procrastinate productively and dealing with your supervisor. We had guest posts about managing data, academic writing in a foreign language, mental health and starting a PhD in this unprecedented situation.
Not all of us may have reached the end of this year unscathed. Some may have struggled in many ways, some may have worried about relatives, about their own health, some people were stuck in a difficult living situation, some were stranded, but know that we were, in a way, all striving and, possibly, thriving, adapting, changing with the circumstances. The Library Blogs Team is here working to try to show you that you still have this strong community, centered around learning but which involves so much more. I hope you have managed to learn something, from us, from your research, from life, from each other.
With our warmest wishes for a happy, healthy New Year, and looking forward to having you with us in 2021,
Lúcia and the Library Blogs Team