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.
This year, in the StudyBlog, we have been through some changes. We had to change our content to provide our readers with interesting, engaging, and useful information about this new situation. How to study at home? How to avoid the dreaded afternoon dip when you are studying from home? How to make your home working environment work for you? How to write a dissertation in isolation? How to do Online group work? These are some of the questions we hoped to answer, all while we were looking for these same answers ourselves. Posts like these are always useful, but this year they were understandably in the limelight.
Our study tips catalogue had the usual: study apps you could be using, how to prepare for presentations, how to avoid falling behind if you’ve missed lectures, volunteering, and much more.
Some of our brilliant Library staff also contributed to the blog this year with tips on how to navigate the library databases (see the Inside the Library’s Labyrinth series), what courses the library offers, online social events, what the library can still do for you, tips on using the library remotely and on different software you can use, E-books and so much more!
With this new situation, many asked themselves how to make online study and teaching more engaging, resourceful, and inclusive. For Dyslexia awareness week, we had an eye-opening piece by Rebecca on dyslexia in higher education. This year has made our differences more visible, and we are striving to make the blogs more inclusive. When creating online learning tools, educators had to think twice about accessibility, about how to better engage and help their students, and our team was no different.
As always, mental health has been a big theme throughout the year, as we are increasingly more aware of the effects it has on everything, including study and learning. Our bloggers shared their term-time reflections, tips on how to have a better work-life balance, how to unwind, take advantage of your downtime, mindfulness, and perfectionism, among many others. In the current circumstances, mental health has become an even bigger topic, and it is palpable how the stress of the pandemic and isolation took its toll.
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, centred around learning but which involves so much more. I hope you have managed to learn something, from us, from the university, from life, from each other.