I started out loving lockdown. Early morning meetings in bed when it's the middle of winter and pouring with rain? Wonderful. No constant interruptions from users? Fantastic! Constant interruptions from three cats and the elderly neighbour? Less than ideal. At least user requests are interesting. Cancellation of the conference I was going to present at? A necessary evil. Saying no to researchers and students? Not as much fun as it sounds.
As much as I love working from home, it's been long enough that I'm starting to miss seeing my colleagues and the ability to walk over and check things or talk over an issue.
Luckily I've had plenty of online work to do. We're implementing a Digital Preservation and Access system in collaboration with Digital Library Services (DLS), so there have been many meetings to make sure that the new system meets all our needs, and that we all understand how to use it. I've been involved since the end of last year and it's great to finally be bringing in the rest of my Primary Collections colleagues. We're currently in the training and testing phase, which is very exciting and I can't wait to see the systems go live. It's completely changing our workflows and the way in which the Primary Collections team interacts with digital objects. Previously, we entered information in a form on AtoM. Now we need to put the information into a spreadsheet so that it can be ingested into Arkivum with the associated digital objects, which will automatically create web-res derivatives and populate our new AtoM instance with them. I've been writing up a guide to help with filling out the spreadsheet, which is set up in a very different way to the form that we're used to.
At the same time, DLS is implementing a new showcase website, and we've been working with them to prepare one of our archival collections to be exhibited there. The ǂKhomani San collection contains a wide range of media and being able to provide a user-friendly website that both showcases our collection and accurately represents the community is great.
We're also preparing the ǂKhomani San collection for ingest to our new Digital Preservation and Access system once we're out of the testing phase and ready to go live. This has involved collaboration with DLS to ensure that the items are digitised and paired with the correct metadata, as well as with external consultants who work closely with the community and advise on content.
Personally, I've tried to keep busy with hobbies -- lots of reading, knitting, and embroidery. There's been some gardening, but not much given the weather. I'm working on an MPhil in Intellectual Property Law (UCT staff tuition rate, I love you), which takes up plenty of time. I've had a few virtual tea parties with family -- particularly a little girl who wanted it known that just because she wasn't having a party, it didn't mean she wasn't having a birthday. I've even done some decluttering, which leaves the house rather a mess while I'm sorting through things, but it's not as if anyone is coming to visit. Besides, the end result is well worth it. Being at home all day means that I'm cooking more, so as part of my decluttering I went through old magazines and cut out recipes to try. So far, so delicious.
Overall, lockdown has been fairly productive so far. I enjoy working from home and I've always been fairly solitary so it hasn't had any detrimental social or emotional impacts. While there's some work that I won't be able to do until we are allowed back on campus, the Audiovisual Archive Audit in particular, once Arkivum is up and running we can use the VPN to upload and describe the thousands of digital objects that are currently gathering digital dust on the library's servers.