Interview with Crystal Buss, 03/31/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐MC: This is Malida Chang interviewing Crystal Buss on Thursday, March 31 2022 for Campus COVID stories. Student Paige Bacchi is also with us. Campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Before we start, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

CB: Crystal Buss, C-R-Y-S-T-A-L, B-U-S-S

MC: Now for the purpose of getting a good audio recording. Tell us again who you are and what your title is at UW Oshkosh?

CB: Sure, I'm Crystal Buss I am the head of Access Services at Polk library on the Oshkosh campus.

MC: Before we dive into your campus COVID story, we'd like to get to know you a 00:01:00little bit better. Tell me about where you grew up?

CB: So I come from a pretty rural area in Wisconsin. I usually tell people I'm from Clintonville. That's where I went to school, but I grew up a little bit outside of there out in the country.

MC: Where did you earn your degree or degrees?

CB: I'm actually a UW Oshkosh alum. I got my undergraduate degree from UW Oshkosh, I got my master's degree from UW Milwaukee.

MC: How did you come to work at UW Oshkosh? When was this? And what was your first position here at UW Oshkosh?

CB: Well, it's kind of funny. I actually have I came here for college in the fall of 1999. I got a job at the library as a student employee, and then I just never left I stayed here. I got a full-time position after that after I graduated, did that for seven years while in the process of getting my master's degree and then so then after that I was able to apply for and get the position that I have now.

MC: Tell me about your position at UWO, before COVID?


CB: Okay, so I'm the head of Access Services, which means that I oversee basically the circulation desk at UW Oshkosh. So all of the checkouts, the reserves, interlibrary loan, all that stuff. I also have another role, I'm pretty involved with UW system libraries as a whole. So I do a lot of collaboration with other UW System colleagues across the state. So we do a lot of conference calls and some travel for that as well. We do a lot to make maintain our library system, like my function is specific to circulation. So I help a lot of colleagues across the state with that as well, in addition to my actual job here, that's just an extra thing that I do.

MC: Now, let's move to the early days of COVID. When was the first time you remember hearing about COVID-19?

CB: Probably right around the same time everybody else did starting in the fall of 2019. We started hearing about it on the news. I personally wasn't paying that close attention to it, thinking it's probably not going to be a big deal. 00:03:00I've been through a couple of little things where we SARS outbreak, bird flu. I remember hearing about those on the news when those happen, but it never impacted me. So in the beginning, I was just like, well, this is happening, but it's nothing for me to worry about.

MC: What was your initial reaction to the news?

CB: I wasn't too concerned. You know, I was, I was aware of it. It, they seemed like they were taking it seriously. It it seemed it was far away. It wasn't, it wasn't impacting us, you know, when it hit the United States, it was over in Washington State. That's a long way from Wisconsin. So it took a long, long time for me to actually like realize that it could impact us.

MC: How would you describe your feelings about the disease itself?

CB: Well as after it, it became clear to me that it was something to be concerned about, I think, just apprehension, you know and anxiety, I just didn't know what it was it seemed to be getting more and more serious. And then it was 00:04:00something that I should pay attention to. But at the same time, you know, I was relatively young, healthy and so I wasn't overly concerned. I was just concerned more just like what is happening.

MC: Now let's talk about your situation when the university closed the campus in mid-March. What were your feelings as everything with UWO and everywhere else and mid-March starting to shut down all of a sudden?

CB: That's when things started to get a little bit more real for me. When the W-H-O declared a pandemic that seemed really serious, I didn't at the time, I was still pretty ignorant about like, what it actually meant and what that really was how it was going to affect me but I started to really pay more attention to it then. Because it seemed like it was becoming a lot more serious. So your anxiety level cranks up a little bit and you start to worry because it sounds like something that you definitely should not be ignoring.

MC: Describe what happened in your department?

CB: Well, I guess there's there's two parts to that I actually have two 00:05:00different departments that I would consider myself a part of one is the department that I manage, which is access services, I have three employees that I supervise, but I'm also a part of our library administrative team. So seeing a little bit higher up complications there, you know, we were looking at, like, what does the library do? How do we respond to this? So we started planning early, even before we went home, but we thought it might be a possibility that we would start having to work remotely. So we were starting to plan for that coming up with things for our staff to do internally, in my my access services department, you know, we were just kind of talking about it, like, can you do your job from home if we have to, so we were just kind of starting to brainstorm and plan for that in advance of it actually happening. So we're, I feel good that we actually did some of that pre planning, and we weren't completely caught off guard. But it was still a theoretical thing at that point.

MC: So who is in your team? And what kind of things did you guys have to have 00:06:00done in order to still work during the time of COVID?

CB: Yeah, so again, there's two different parts to that for my job, one being the the library, administrative team, you know, and we needed to just be able to see all of our employees and see, you know, who could do their jobs from home, what kind of things they could work on, we had to come up with tasks for them to do if they ran out of things, but not everybody has a job that they can actually do from home. So we came up with some projects, we actually had students and or not students, I'm sorry, our staff were doing transcription of oral histories during that time. So you know, we had to do that. But in my department, you know, we had to, again, access services being my department, we just kind of had to try to figure out like, what each of those individual employees would be doing. And me as their manager had to work with each of those employees to figure out okay, this is these are the projects that you can work on. And then also having in my back pocket, that transcription process progress project that 00:07:00they could work on if they ran out of their regular work.

MC: Some employees roles were also deemed essential, and that they were instructed to come to work in person, were you among those group?

CB: No, I was not required to come to campus.

MC: How did you feel about that?

CB: I felt okay about that the majority of my specific job I could very easily do remotely, I think I was more concerned with some of the other staff that work under me that that can't necessarily do all their work from home. But for me, it 00:08:00was fine. It was knowing the bigger picture of like what we do in the library as a whole and what my department does, like knowing that my department wasn't going to be able to be super functional, was a little bit different than my personal situation. Where is it? Like my job and what I do day to day, I can very easily do remotely.

MC: And so have you done that remotely at home before, before COVID started?

CB: I hadn't, no but I'm used a lot of times I spend a lot of my day in my office with the door, you know, well, now the door is closed, but it used to I mean, I always was able to kind of be a little bit more isolated. I didn't have to be working with everybody in the building. Like I didn't have to have my hands on the books that wasn't part of my job. I could do most of my job from my office.

MC: Were you among the group of employees who were furloughed that summer of 2020?

CB: No, I I was not furloughed.

MC: How much of your work week did you spend physically on campus from mid March 00:09:00to the end of semester 2020?

CB: Well, that that's that changed as the time went on. So we, you know, the university was closed for about five months. And in the beginning, I was one of just a very small number of people, just four of us in the library that actually was able to come onto campus. We felt a great responsibility for our building. Because we know the building we know its history of you know, things like water leaks and other kind of problematic things like that. So we felt a good responsibility for the building. So in the beginning, I had one designated day a week that I would come in and do a walkthrough of the building to make sure that there were no problems and no leaks. We didn't really trust that the rest of campus you know they have a whole campus to deal with. We wouldn't didn't really trust that they would know all places to check we have a lot of collections that are irreplaceable and things like that so we didn't want there to be a 00:10:00catastrophic water leak. And have that sit there for three or four days before anybody noticed it. So we came in regularly I had, I had Wednesday's in the beginning. As the time went on, I had more and more things to do. We, we had, just so I'll probably get into this a little bit later, we had a multitude of different things we were working on. And so as time went on, I spent more and more time here, I would say towards August, I was probably in the building every day, anywhere from an hour to four or five hours.

MC: So I know you did say that, you know, you had to come in once a week by yourself to check out the building. How did you feel having to be there alone?

CB: You know, okay, that's, I'm really glad you asked that. Because the very first time that I did, that was quite an experience. It just it felt very weird. I was actually the first one of us to do it. I think it was maybe the week after we had closed, I think we closed on the 20th is that the day? But the following week, was when we had decided we were going we were going to do this, we were 00:11:00going to come in and check the building. So I was the first one up, I think it must have been a Wednesday. It felt weird. It was really weird. It was a really bizarre experience. Now I'm very familiar with the library. I used to work the closing shift for seven years. So I'm familiar with this place, I know it inside and out, I could walk around, blindfolded, no problem. And I'm not afraid of the dark. And so it didn't bother me to be here alone. But being in the building, looking out the windows on campus where there was zero activity, parking lots were empty, nobody was walking around, there were signs on all the doors of all the buildings on campus, you know, that had like sanitization protocols and things like that, you know, campus was really shut down, shut down, like nobody was here. Anybody who was here, you didn't see them. So that first time walking through the building, I felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic horror movie. And it was really, it was cool. Like, it didn't scare me, it didn't freak me out. 00:12:00And I had this little overall sense of eeriness as I did it. But I loved it, it was such a cool experience. I remember taking my phone out, and I didn't turn the lights on, I know where all the light switches are, I didn't bother to turn the lights on when I went through the walkthrough, because I was like, I'm just gonna be here for an hour, no big deal. I gotta check all the nooks and crannies, check all of our leak spots. But just that feeling of campus being deserted, and I don't, I didn't know how many people were around, I didn't think there would be very many at all, you knew everybody got sent home. And just being in there completely silent, completely quiet. And seeing everything out the window. It was just nothing. It was it was it was eerie. But I liked it. Because it I you know, I'm a horror fan, right. So, so it felt really kind of cool to me but it was, it was a unique experience that I don't think I would have ever felt that again. Other than that first time back, I was only like a week after we closed, you know, it wasn't that long after but it just felt like the world ended. That's pretty cool.


MC: Was there any like protocol or security that you had to go through in order to come in to the building by yourself?

CB: Um, there may have been, we just didn't do it. We, because of our sense of ownership of this building, and our desire to make sure everything in this building was secured and safe. And our collections were secure, especially things like our archival collection, those things are not replaceable. And if something were to happen to that, we wanted to make sure that that we were on top of that. And you know, again, we not that we don't trust the university's facilities employees to do their jobs. It's just they don't have that sense of ownership for this building like we do. So we just did it, because we felt obligated to do it. Nobody, I don't think I don't, I don't think we asked permission to do it. I do believe eventually we did tell our my library director did tell her boss that we were doing it. But it was never really something that 00:14:00we had a question about, like, Can we do this? It was like, no, we're going to do this because we have a responsibility to do it.

MC: With whom did you work most closely executing your response to COVID-19?

CB: Could you repeat that, please?

MC: With whom did you work closely executing your response to COVID-19.

CB: As I've mentioned before, probably the two different teams that I work with most of the time would be our library administrative team where we go over our overall response to this whole thing. And then my individual department as well, the library administrative team, we have an acronym for it we call it LCC It's the library Coordinating Council. We meet regularly during any normal business time and so we transferred that over to a weekly meeting on teams during pandemic and we continue those meetings throughout the pandemic. We were the ones that were coming in the building, Only the four of us were the ones doing that nobody else came in. So I worked with them most, most of the time to deal 00:15:00with building issues deal with policy issues. You know, we had a lot of changes that we had to make, just because the building was closed, and all of our surfaces still existed all of our patrons, all of our students, our all of our faculty, they still had needs and so we had to figure out ways to respond to them. So I would work with that group to come up with those plans and then I would work with my own team access services to execute some of those plans.

MC: Prior to COVID, can you put in perspective, how many books are checked out?

CB: I have those numbers actually. So in like 2019 2018, and like put up a typical pre COVID year, our circulation ranged from 23,000 to 24,000. To put that into perspective of the last two years, 2020 2021, those numbers have dropped down to about 9500 for both of those two years, so it's a significant decrease. But again, that's only a part of the picture of what we do. Libraries 00:16:00are so much more than just books, you see a library and you think that's, that's it, but so much of our services shifted to online. So we were able to make up the difference in all those resource materials that students needed for their projects and faculty needed for their research projects. For the most part, we were able to get them alternative resources that they could access electronically. So that's we had a really majorly shift from physical to electronic and you can see that that drop in our circulation statistics made a huge difference and we still haven't fully bounced back because I think, some in some ways students and staff and faculty really embraced some of those changes we made during the pandemic, and they embraced using those electronic resources. And we're trying to do the best we can to provide as much of that as we can.

MC: How many people use the library online or in person?

CB: Oh, I don't have an answer for that one. We have gates statistics, we do count. It's, it's a very inaccurate count, though people go in and out and so 00:17:00you're just counting traffic as they pass through those sensors. We have done some head counts as well, as we were most recently evaluating, should we be open 24 hours for finals week? That is something that is something that we had to kind of adjust and shift on the flyer this year and we did it based on our numbers, I don't have those numbers in front of me right now. It's one thing I didn't grab ahead of time but we do monitor that and we know just like our circulation statistics, our building traffic plummeted. We had mass mandates in places, if a student has the ability to study in their home without a mask on, if they're going to be studying and working on a paper for three hours, they probably rather do it where they don't have to wear a mask. So like that made total sense to us that students weren't using our facilities because of those restrictions and we adjusted as we needed to, you know, we adjusted our, our events that we had planned some things we were going to do in person, we shifted away from, we changed our hours, we did a lot, we made a lot of adjustments 00:18:00based on the traffic that we had in the building.

MC: So I know you did mention about hours changing. How did you and your team came to the idea of changing the hours due to COVID?

CB: Well, I mean, we pretty much had to we had to be we didn't have the staffing, we knew that there was going to be all kinds of complications when it comes to the university's quarantine protocol and testing and, you know, we didn't know who was going to get COVID, who was going to have to quarantine and so, you know, we knew that we would not have the staff to be able to maintain normal library hours, we're in a typical year, we're open 100 and I think it's 103 or 106 hours a week, there was no way we were going to be able to maintain that in COVID situation where at any given time, we could have several people out for two weeks at a time and we did have a lot of schedule changes throughout that time our student employees that work for us were amazing and they whenever we had one that wasn't able to work, they would step up and they would adjust their schedules and take shifts from each other. I mean, we wouldn't have been 00:19:00able to do it without them. But we had to reduce the hours and plus, it just made sense because we didn't have the people in the building to sustain being open that late. It didn't make any sense for us to stay open that late. So we did reduce the hours we reduced them during the regular semester when we opened up in the fall and we reduced them during the intercession times and spring break and all that even further than we normally do.

MC: After the university sent students and staff home did The Polk Library remain-open?

CB: No, we closed completely.

MC: How did students and staff use the library?

CB: We had to shift everything virtual. So for physical materials for a period of time, they had no access to anything in the building. We had no access to the building. Well, some of us had access but for the most part, nobody had access to the building and the collections all that got shut down. We did have to shift all of our services and highlight all of our electronic resources. There were some state, state sponsored funding available to open up extra resources to all 00:20:00libraries across the state that normally you don't have access to electronic resources and journal subscriptions, things like that, they're very expensive and so we only have a limited amount of money that we can use to provide the ones we provide. But thankfully, publishers were working with libraries worldwide and were really responsive to the pandemic and for a period of time, they opened up access to things that you maybe normally wouldn't have subscribed to. So anything that we had available to us, we activated in our system, so that our students and our, our faculty, and all of our patrons would have access to them through our library website. So that was huge for us, physical collections went away for a period of time, just because we were closed and didn't have access to them but we tried to do whatever we could with our electronic resources and make sure that the students could still do their research papers, and faculty could still do the work that they were working on. And I feel like we did a pretty good job of that we were trying to do what we could, my 00:21:00department, you know, because I do deal with our physical collections. You know, I extended, I was monitoring and building reports and extending everybody's due dates on anything that they had checked out before they left so that they didn't have to worry about Oh, my God, this is due back on June 1, how am I going to get this to the library? I am not supposed to go anywhere. The library's closed, well, we did we do have external book drops and we did tell people that if they really wanted to return things, but behind the scenes, I was monitoring that monitoring the situation and extending their due dates as we went along. They would get emails and say if the library changed your due date, and it was this date, now it's you know, a month later, that was me doing that. So I monitored that we turned off all of our fine accumulations. Because we'll again, nothing was coming due, nothing was overdue, because I kept pushing your due dates forward. But we also didn't want things that were previously problematic or right on the edge of getting billed for we didn't want that stuff, going to student accounts or anything like that. So we turned off all those processes, we 00:22:00really tried to do as much as we could being understanding that everybody was in the same situation, everybody was kind of stuck and so, we weren't going to hold anybody to any kind of difficult standard that they wouldn't be able to, to make. Hope that answers that question. I forgot what the question was.

MC: Definitely, I was about to ask you about that. So with that, I'm going to dive into more of like about the physical books that were checked out before COVID happen. So if students choose to return them back to the library, was there any protocol for you guys to clean them? Or what you guys had to do with them?

CB: Yeah, so I was the one who's doing primarily all of that, because that is my department, we handle all the checkouts of the physical materials. So we were following the guidelines that were set by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and they had they had guidelines written out for Okay, well, library materials should be quarantined for X number of days. So that was my responsibility to organize all those things. So what I would do, I would come in, you know, in the beginning, it was every week, and later on, it was more 00:23:00frequently, I would empty the book drops, I would put them on carts, I would label them, so that I knew what day I collected them. And then then they would just sit there, I would wash my hands after I was done. But then those books would just sit there until the time passed that I was able to check them in again. And another thing that we did, so that patrons minds were a little bit at ease, we turned on a feature in our library system to send them an email to receipt when things were returned. So, you know, they returned it on a Tuesday, I probably wouldn't check it in until the following Tuesday. That'd be the seven day quarantine protocol and then they would get an email saying you returned this book, maybe a week after they returned it because we didn't want to mess with it too much during that quarantine period but that but we did that, that quarantine period changed throughout the pandemic and then eventually it just went away entirely as as scientists learn more about the disease and like how it was transmitted. In the beginning, everybody was extra cautious and had these long quarantine period because you can't really, you can't sanitize a book. You 00:24:00can't sanitize every single page of a book, you don't know what parts of it somebody touched. So the answer to how to deal with those is just let them sit for X number of days and then it'll be fine. So we had to change that a couple of times throughout the pandemic, I think it was seven days then it was reduced down to like a day and so we did it as like two days because we couldn't guarantee like what time it came in to the it was just it was a whole thing, but yes, we did that we organized it we had we put them on carts, we labeled them we just let them sit until they were ready to be checked back in and then patrons will be notified a little bit later that their items were checked in.

MC: How did you how did you feel to have cleaned the books and then later on as scientists do more research, a the quarantine days for the bookshop that how did you feel?

CB: Well, we didn't have to clean them because again, there's not really a way to clean them. So it was really just the extra work that we did to gather them, label them, let them sit for a while. It was really nice when that was done, you 00:25:00know, we had, we have a limited number of book trucks that we use to do our daily work. And because of this, because of this, this quarantine protocol, a lot of those trucks were used, you know, one was labeled for each day of the week. And you know, that was a lot of extra stuff and things just sitting around, we don't like to have things just sitting around, because there's always a risk that, you know, if person has this checked out, and it's sitting here, something could happen to it. In the meantime, before we get a chance to check it in and get it off their account. So it gives you a little bit of a sense of unease, because it seems a little bit less safe. Thankfully, I don't believe anything happened in that time, there's the only people that come back in my department are people who work there. So thank and everybody knew what we were doing. So it was a little bit cumbersome to have to deal with it. But it was really nice when it went away. And you know, I personally didn't really have much anxiety about like touching the materials, maybe other people would have and some people might have wanted to use gloves when they did it. I wasn't too concerned about I just made sure to wash be conscious of what my hands were 00:26:00doing while I was working with them and wash my hands after. We also had practices in place in the beginning. For collecting books that were requested by patrons, we wanted to make sure that we weren't handling them more than they needed to be. So if we had, you know, two books to go retrieve in the morning, and normally, we would just go up and put them and keep them carry them around in our hands, we instructed all of our students and our staff to always use a cart to go retrieve those books and handle them as little as possible. And putting them on our whole shelf. And you kind of have to understand, and hopefully the our patrons would understand. If you're requesting a service from something like a library, there's this understanding that the library staff have handled those materials. Same as when you go to the grocery store that your checkout, your cashier is handling your groceries. And so you're just aware of that situation. And then you use that knowledge to handle it however you want after if you want to like quarantine your own groceries for a week because somebody touched them. Okay, fine. It thankfully we learned later that that was 00:27:00completely unnecessary. We didn't have to do any of that. And it really was not the way that the disease was was transmitted. But we did everything that we could, following the recommendations and following the science and if the science told us, because those are the scientists and we trust them to do this, that's what we did. And when they change that, okay, well, we adjusted.

MC: So for students who were distance away, let's say, there were like, out of town students, and they wanted to turn books in during the time of COVID. Did you guys have to cover shipping expenses, or that would be on them?

CB: We did not cover shipping expenses. We told them, that they could return them to us. If they wanted to drive to the library, they could do that. Otherwise, that whole part where we were extending their due dates, nothing became due until students were back on campus. So we gave them options that they wanted. Some students really wanted to get things out of their hands, maybe they graduated, and they're moving on there moving away, you know, in those kinds of 00:28:00situations if they really wanted to mail stuff, like okay, you know, we'll give you the mailing address, there is a special library rate that you can ask for the post office, it does give you a little bit of a break on postage, I'm pretty sure it still exists. But they can ask for that. And it's a little bit cheaper. But otherwise we would have other options that they had. I can't remember if we were doing postage in a non-COVID time, students and staff and faculty, anybody who's using the UW system libraries can return things to any of the other UW system libraries. I believe we were not recommending that they do that during COVID shutdowns just because we didn't know what everybody's protocols were. And there were several months where our courier service that we have that transports books across the state that wasn't running for a while, because you know, just like everybody else, those employees had to work from work remotely, or they were furloughed or something like that. But no, to answer your question, we did not cover postage and we gave people alternatives that they could to deal with 00:29:00those books, they could either hold on to them until they were back. Or they could return them somewhere else if that was an option. But I think we would recommend that they would contact those libraries prior to doing that to see if they could do that. I think that answers that question.

MC: What were the three biggest challenges or the just pretty much the biggest challenge regarding your work from the March of 2020 to December of 2021?

CB: Well, the biggest challenge was, you know, just having a department that I run that operates entirely based on the library's physical collections and having that shut down and that access taken away for quite some time. You know, there were five months there were the library was closed. And so having to come up with ways to still be able to provide services was challenging. It was interesting. I don't think I've mentioned yet the curbside service that we implemented that started in I think June of 2020. And it ran through the 00:30:00rest of the summer until we reopened again in the fall. So that just being able to respond to everything that was going on being available to answer questions for our patrons, a lot of them had questions because they had our stuff checked out, or they had things that they wanted. You know, so that was difficult for us, especially for having a department that runs entirely on your physical collections, there's a lot that we weren't able to do a lot of services we weren't able to provide. But we did try to come up with alternatives. And so, you know, again, the curbside pickup we did, we changed some services around in our system to offer a scanning service for chapters if they wanted something that was in the fiscal collection that they couldn't come and get. So there were some changes that we made, as a result of all the changes we had to deal with. But it was challenging at times to, to kind of react on the spot and come up with a whole new plan. That was the biggest thing is, is completely shifting what you do every day and to do something completely different.


MC: When did you officially come back to work in person?

CB: I formally came back part time in September of 2020. But again, I was coming in periodically throughout that entire shutdown period. When it came back in September, we wanted to try to keep our staffing pretty lean in my department just to keep less bodies in the place. So myself and one other employee we shifted back and forth of doing half days. So I would come in in the mornings. And then I would go home in the afternoon and he would stay home in the mornings. And he would come in in the afternoon. So that just that reduced at least some of our staffing level. So yeah, I formerly came back in September, where I was working in my office again.

MC: What are you most proud of regarding your response to COVID-19?

CB: Well, I would say that curbside pickup service that I did that was quite an effort. Libraries all across the world, we're coming up with these plans, 00:32:00businesses all around the world are coming up with all kinds of curbside pickups. I mean, so much has changed in regard to how we can access things like goods and services like that. But yeah, the curbside pickup is something that I took on primarily, I am the one who came up with how we were going to do it. I'm the one who intercepted all the requests, I pulled most of those materials. And then I arranged all the scheduling for those pickup appointments as well, they did, we did them by appointments, and I did most of the appointments. So I did have help there. It wasn't just me, but I did most of them. So that was those were that was the biggest thing that I did that I was really proud of being able to do that because that was a big undertaking. And that's my gold star for the COVID was doing that work.

MC: How did you feel having to act on the spot? On the moment, like to think fast? And to think that this is what we have to follow? And that we have to go 00:33:00with a curbside pickup, and how did you come up with all those ideas?

CB: Ideas? Well, I can't take credit for coming up with curbside pickup, because that's something that libraries were doing all over the place, but there was no plan for how to do it. So I felt good about that. That's kind of one of my strengths is like figuring things out, figuring the technical side out of things like that, being able to experiment and play with our system, play with the back end of it, and come up with a way to make it work. So that was good, it was kind of fulfilling to it was very fulfilling to actually be able to do something concrete, have something to keep me busy, it got me out of the house, which was really nice, too, because as I've mentioned previously, as the time went on those five months that we were closed, I was coming into the library more and more. And this curbside was a lot played a huge part in that. So that was they brought me back in I'm like, oh, there's books to go retrieve Well, I got to retrieve them. Because if I don't retrieve them and scan them, patrons are never going to get the email that says they can schedule an appointment. So like, all 00:34:00these things were very time dependent. And being able to do that was a big deal for me. When it comes to coming up with solutions like this, I enjoy it. I feel like that it was it was fulfilling to be able to say okay, this is a problem. This is my idea of how I'm going to do it and actually trying it and then seeing it actually succeed. So that was pretty fulfilling, especially when such a crazy time when you're working from home. You were you know, building everything the world is upside down. And to have something that you do that is successful felt really good. How has your job changed because of the global pandemic? Um, well, as of today, I would say it hasn't changed that much. We're really close to back to normal though some of the things that we have learned from the pandemic, things that we know that we can do remotely that has improved things, I would 00:35:00say our ability to have virtual meetings is really nice. You know, we used to like some of the work that I do for UW system libraries, we always do those on a conference call. And those were really annoying because everybody's on the phone, you learn everybody's voices, you know who's talking. But now we do that on teams where you see everybody on camera, it's a little bit nice. I don't hate that. As far as the library goes, a couple of things that we implemented during the COVID shutdown, we kept one of those being the return receipts, patrons seem to like to get an email that confirms that they did return this book, they seem to like that. So we decided to keep the service that we provided during that time of scanning materials from books and providing them like a chapter scan, we kept that service in place, it doesn't get used a whole lot, which makes it really easy to keep it in place. But it's always available. So if a student wants just one chapter from this book, instead of coming in to check out the whole book, we'll scan a chapter and send it to that's an easy 00:36:00thing that you can do. It's easy enough for us to do the process on the back end. So that's something that we kept. So there are some things that from COVID, that we did keep just understanding people right now, even still today, even though things are starting to kind of return back to normal, some people don't all feel as comfortable as everyone else does returning to normal. So if we get somebody who wants us to do one of those rare curbside pickups, which we turned off in September of 2020, but if they email us or call us and say, Hey, can I do that still? Absolutely, we'll do it. So we make a lot more exceptions for people we understand that people might have to quarantine. So we're much more understanding now when we make a lot more exceptions for, for policy decisions and due dates and things like that, than we used to. So I think being more able to adapt and respond to people, it helps us to develop a little bit better 00:37:00relationships with our patrons, too. So we don't always have to say no to people. Not that our library and my department in particular has, we haven't really been a big no kind of department. But it's a lot easier for us to say yes. Now when people do have requests and special, special circumstances. So I like the relationships that we've been able to build with people because it makes them see us as you know, a nicer friendlier department.

MC: What do you think code has changed permanently in regard to your work? So since COVID, started, and what the changes that you and your team have gone through? Has any of it become permanent to the library?

CB: Well, as I, as I just mentioned, a couple of things that we did decide to keep the return receipts and the request or the scanner, requested chapter scan, those are things that we've kept up with being more involved with our library as 00:38:00a whole, or all three of our libraries. We consider the libraries at Fox and Fond du Lac as a part of us. We collaborate a lot more on teams, we have, you know group chats, sometimes we'll share funny anecdotes from the day. That's something that we started in the pandemic, getting everybody a little bit more involved with each other and having silly conversations, you know, somebody would have a fun conversation starter, but something dumb to talk about. That would always get everybody involved. And so we would do that kind of on the regular. We don't do it as much now, but we still do it occasionally. It's just a way to have a connection with your staff, especially since we do have two campuses that are remote to us. It just gets you a little bit more involved. So there are things definitely that we have kept. And we'll probably continue to keep.

PB: All right now my turn. Okay, kind of picking up off her question. I was 00:39:00going to ask, so you said you were a student? Like while working at the library? Has a lot changed since then, like since you here now like does it run smoothly, like more smoothly or worse, or?

CB: I've been here a little over 20 years, since again, I started here in the fall of 99 as a little wee little freshmen students. And so I have seen a lot of changes. It's kind of funny, like, at one time, you know, I was one of the youngest members of the staff and now I'm one of the oldest. There's only a couple of us that have been here that long, you know, things definitely changed a lot and I was here through our major shift from print resources to electronic. We used to have file cabinets full of photocopies that that students would have 00:40:00to check out, and then they would take them to the lobby and they would make a photocopy themselves of that photocopy. And now, everything, the instructors are responsible for putting that up on Canvas. So we don't have to do any of that anymore. We just shifting everything from physical stuff to digital has been a huge change for us. And of course, I've seen many, many staffing changes, I've seen the library staff shrink, I've seen us develop certain functional areas and you know, deprioritize other functional areas. I've seen a lot of changes and my you know, 20 so years.

PB: Okay, so now in the fall 2021 vaccines were starting to come out and be offered on campus and like advocated, what were your initial thoughts about the vaccine?


CB: Sign me up! There was zero hesitation. And most of my co workers were all in the same boat too. We were ready to get back to normal.

PB: How much do you that feel things are getting back to a role? How do you feel about it?

CB: I would say considerably. So yeah, you know, I feel comfortable and confident. When I go about my day to day, I would say that there are things that happen with the pandemic that I don't do much now like going out to restaurants and things like that. And you know, social things. And I don't really miss all of that that much either. But I feel pretty comfortable. You know, I trust science, I trust in the vaccine, I know that it is not going to 100% cut down on transmission, but I know that it lessens the chance of us dying. And so I feel pretty comfortable with that. I still carry a mask around just in case, I'm in a 00:42:00situation where I can't keep distance from a lot of people, I always have one in my pocket. I'm at the grocery store, and it's really crowded, or people are crowding me, I am perfectly comfortable putting it on just because like that might make me a little bit more comfortable. But for the most part, ever since the university, really in my personal life and following what the university is doing. So when the university was requiring us to mask up until just fairly recently, I was wearing them again in the grocery stores. But for a period of time, we didn't have to and so then I kind of eased off myself. So it's my comfort level is pretty good. But again, try to trust what's going on in the world with science and follow those recommendations.

PB: Yeah. So has like living and working during the time of COVID taught you anything about yourself or others?

CB: Um, well, you know, I think some people had a really hard time with COVID and feelings of isolation and things like that. I am much more of an introvert. And so like, you know, it, it didn't really bother me. So that's one thing that 00:43:00I would say that I definitely learned was like, I was totally cool with being at home by myself with my dogs. And I didn't miss having to dread going out to social events and things like that. So it was a lot less difficult on me that I know it was for other people.

PB: Do you ever feel like you're at risk for COVID?

CB: Not really no, I took the precautions that I needed to take. I mentioned that, you know, I made sure to be aware of my surroundings when I was out. I didn't go out as often, you know, like grocery store runs and things like that I did far less of, but now I didn't really ever feel at risk.

PB: Alright, so as long as we still have time. Can I ask you a few private life questions? Okay, so we were sent home a week before spring break. When COVID 00:44:00became, what did you do during spring break? March 22nd-29th of 2020?

CB: Well, for most employees at the University Spring Break isn't really a thing. Like we don't get the time off unless we take vacation. So nothing was different for me. It wasn't really a factor.

PB: Do you remember how long you initially thought we'd be set home for?

CB: Certainly not as long as we were. I think when it first became obvious that we were probably going to get sent home I think I probably thought maybe a couple of weeks. Maybe no more than a month and it ended up being five months.

PB: Yeah, that's crazy. Um, where were you living at the time and like with who?

CB: I live in the city of Oshkosh, not too far from campus. And I actually just live alone with my pets. So it was not too big of a deal.

PB: So then you didn't really have any rules or protocols at home because it was just you?

CB: No, I didn't have to worry about any of that. I think I did have some service done, like a furnace or something at some point, I had somebody in my 00:45:00house for something. And I think, you know, you just keep your distance you wear a mask, and it was no big deal.

PB: So did you see your family? Or like how do you feel emotionally being alone with just your dogs?

CB: Well, I felt fine. My biggest concern though, was for my mom, you know, my mom lives by herself out in the country, that rural place that I came from. So I was really concerned more about her and her safety and how she was than for myself. I am not somebody who is in frequent contact with her mom, like, you know, I, in the past, I've gotten a month between phone calls with my mom, but I made an effort to check in on her very frequently during COVID, at least once a week, sometimes every couple, especially those first couple of weeks, every couple of days, I'd give her a call, you know, and find out how she was doing, I was more concerned about her, and how she was doing and how she was able to get around because she's in her 70s. And she's going to be far more at risk of COVID than I ever would be. So a lot of the things that I did in my personal life 00:46:00about the precautions that I was taking, for COVID. It wasn't because I was afraid of myself getting sick, it was afraid of me getting sick, and then needing to help her with something. She actually did get hospitalized with something unrelated to COVID during this time, and I was super concerned for her safety, but knowing that I was doing everything that I felt was right, made me comfortable going there and staying with her and helping her when she was you know, ill. So that was the biggest thing for me the emotional thing, and the connection was just making sure that she was taken care of, because I just didn't know if my siblings had the same level of care that I did.

PB: And how did your siblings cope with COVID?

CB: I'm not super close with them and not in touch as much. They were not as cautious as I was, you know, we have different backgrounds, and we have different careers and everything's different. And like I know that they weren't following all the same recommended protocols and guidelines. They were not. And 00:47:00so I, in some ways, I didn't really trust them with her safety. And so that's why another reason I felt obligated to do everything that I could to be as safe as I could so that I could be there for her if she needed something.

PB: Did you know anybody who got COVID?

CB: Nobody close to me? No. I do know, you know, a few colleagues that did eventually get COVID and everybody at some point, knows someone, but nobody really close to me no.

PB: Did they mention their symptoms? Like did they have bad symptoms?

CB: That's hard. Like, I don't know if I can really tell you much just because of confidentiality things. Yeah. With work and things I'm probably not even supposed to know. So I don't know a lot of details about that. Because that information was not given to me personally from that person.

PB: Yeah. Okay. Is there anything else you would like to add?

CB: I'm not sure, I think we covered-


PB: What were some challenges that you had to overcome? As a librarian? Were they hard? Or was it easy to overcome?

CB: That's such an odd question. The only thing I can think of that I know I've covered previously would be just in my job, specifically how we handle the physical materials and having to evolve that to a different format, you know, the curbside pickup and all those kinds of things. But as for being a librarian, specifically, no, not really, I mean, so much of our job is already using our electronic resources and our collections and our tools that we have to find information. And that doesn't really change because pretty much everything that starts in like a library reference transaction starts with our online systems. The only thing that is was a little bit challenging was not having access to all 00:49:00the physical materials, which I had ways around that if I needed to, I could get into the building and access things did you

PB: Did you experience or do anything you wouldn't ever think you would do as a librarian?

CB: Well, it's all the extra little things that I did, you know, the building walkthroughs and then, since I was the only one in my department that was able to come into the building, I did all the work that I once did as a student employee. There were times when you know, I would come in and because of the returns that were happening through our outside backdrops, they were starting to pile up and I was running out of room on our little staging area behind the desk. So I was actually up there shelving books, I was checking things in I was doing all the things that I normally wouldn't do, because our student workers do that work. But we didn't have any, and we didn't have anybody else and I was all we had so I did that work. It was kind of nice. I would just bring up my little Bluetooth speaker and have the music going while I'm shelving and normally you don't do that because there's patrons around but there's no patrons. Nobody to 00:50:00interrupt. So that was an interesting part of that. Didn't think I would ever do that.

PB: Okay, well, thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.

CB: Thank you. You're welcome.