So life has changed a bit in the last month or so.
There was a devastating earthquake on 22nd February that hit our city, Christchurch, like a bomb. All it took was 24 seconds.
I work for Boffa Miskell, our building is Brannigans on the corner of Oxford Terrace and Gloucester Sts. I wasn’t at work on the day of the quake, but my colleagues assure me that being on the 7th floor was akin to being in a giant tumble drier. Thankfully all of my workmates escaped unharmed. My husband’s work, Synapsys, once situated in a Victorian brick building, England Brothers House, on High St has since been red stickered, and we expect it will be demolished. They were luck to get out.
Both our businesses remain within the cordon, and there’s as yet no word on when, if, we may get access to our work places.
[Image of Branngians post earthquake. The glass enclosing the elevators is gone, as is my workmate Phil’s window on the 7th floor. By Schwede66 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons]
Brannigans also has a red sticker and both Boffa Miskell and Synapsys are currently in alternative, temporary accommodation. Bidding wars between prospective tenants have meant finding any new office space has been a difficult, prolonged, expensive process for CHCH businesses.
In CHCH our work places and homes are broken, our communities, scattered. Energy is low, concentration is compromised, stress and anxiety are high. Infrastructure is shattered. Roads in the east, where we live, look like they’ve been straffed. Many 50km zones are down to 30km. Power outages are occurring, and we’re all conscious that winter is approaching. Many people have homes that are neither weather tight, nor have essential services like sewer. Some have left. Many more have stayed and are working so hard to resuscitate Christchurch and keep our businesses going. And still there are the aftershocks.
Our work places are now on the otherside of town and as yet under resourced in terms of basic things like IT infrastructure, seating and desks. This is no fault of our companies, it’s just that the volume of businesses in CHCH that have had to walk out the door and start again from scratch is nearly beyond comprehension and the resulting time it takes to get hooked up with everything just takes time. We are all having to exercise an inordinate amount of patience. And everyone is doing the very best they can.
Which is the main reason why I’m remoting it. At home, once I could face tidying it up, we converted our studio [The Crib] into an office space, and when I’m remoting from home, the work day fits around our daughter (who’s kindergarten has been red stickered), clients / colleagues. So for me, rather than doing two 5 hours sessions in the office per week, I’m working 2 hrs a day, 5 days per week. I’m heading into the office on Monday mornings now for the weekly meeting, and am spending the rest of the week doing a couple of hours work each day (I work part time).
My husband Steve started working in The Crib last week (it had taken a while to bring myself to straighten it up), while I minded a friend’s child and my own, while working from the kitchen table.
So what’s a day like when you’re a librarian without a building or a library, or IRL colleagues anymore?
Well. It’s a bit lonely.
In terms of my collection we may have lost our hard copy library of books, reports, journals and company materials. But I remain hopeful that we may be able to get in and retrieve some things …
But here’s what I am grateful for, with respect to my little library:
- an online catalogue
- a decent electronic collection
- our other offices in Auckland, Wellington and Tauranga who have collections, and duplicates!
- online subscriptions to NZ Standards and RMAnet
- the generosity of Brookers
- our links collection on Delicious
I’m going to continue blogging about this experience, how I’m working, and what sort of work I’m doing. I’m trying to make contact with other special librarians, in particular, as we are often sole charge - it’s good to be able to offer support, and be supported. We all have a lot to work through.
How do you value a library collection? I’m probably going to have to do this soon. I’d really like some advice about this if anyone has been through a disaster recently and can shed some light for me.
While there has been no official word on our building, there is a possibility at sometime soon, at short notice, four of my colleagues may get a limited amount of access to our building. By limited access, I mean they get to make one trip in and one out, climbing a cracked stairwell to the 6th and 7th floors. They’ll be in the dark, with torches, wearing hard-hats and high-vis vests. Only two people will be permitted on each floor. They won’t have a wheelie bin to fill. They might be allowed to take a back pack (I don’t know, I hope so). They’ll hold lists in their hands of important priority items to find. My priority list includes Brookers Resource Management Looseleaf Service, and our new collection of NZ topo maps for the South Island.
However, I’m realistic about the situation. It is unlikely that there will time or space in my colleagues’ arms or back packs to carry library items. Or that they will be able to safely access the library. Here’s my bog post, and a photo, of the library after the September 4 quake. Apparently this area was completely blocked after the February quake hit, no one could get passed the shelves or my desk (I write this feeling extremely grateful not to have been sitting in there).
So, while I remain hopeful we may be able to get back in and retrieve the library I feel I need to be prepared for the worst. I feel I need to at least have a plan in the event that I receive an email from our GM or CFO asking for a current valuation of our collection.
So, where do I start …
- talk to our CFO about our insurance policy and what the library has been insured for
- run a report on all our company reports and estimate the cost of re-printing each one
- pull my acquisitions records from the period of time I’ve been working (I’ve details of all purchases)
- add a ‘value’ field into the online catalogue in preparation for inputting replacement values
- check titles on www.abebooks.com and input the values into the catalogue
- run a valuation report
As I was finishing this post I received an update from work about the state of our building …
Well there have been developments. Two of my colleagues were permitted an hour to collect some important items from the office.
While they were there they snapped off a few pictures. Here’s one of my library.
This is the last time I’ll see it. We’ve been told no one will be allowed back into the building; the building has no future.
My worst fears about working remotely have been realised. Two big quakes hit Christchurch yesterday while I was out of town. Apparently on a new fault (there are MORE?!) My family are all ok, and I’m home now, but at the time I felt, and was, so far away from them. I felt sick with worry and couldn’t concentrate. To think that morning I was worrying ash from the Chilean volcano was going to stop me getting home.
One of my colleagues found me new flights while I jibbered on the phone to my Dad, then I packed up my gear, we jumped in the company mini, stopped to check out of the motel, stopped at vodafone for a broadband stick and drove to Hamilton.
Arriving in Hamilton I bought water and muesli bars, was put on a direct flight to CHCH, met man on the plane who’s stepson was a taxi driver and he agreed I could get a ride with them as far as we could go. Legend.
I met my husband and daughter at my parents place in South New Brighton (they had power and water). The next day we were home to North New Brighton by 9.30 to masses of liquefaction, more holes and craters in our drive and back yard. A revolving door of friends came to the rescue and on average 4 of us spent all day digging.
Now GNS are suggesting we have an increased risk of additional quakes up to a 6.9M over thee next year. You can imagine we’re all feeling pretty excited about that.
More pictures here.
A resource available from Christchurch City Libraries #eqnz #chch #disasterrecovery #businesscontinuity
My time living and working the way I have since the February earthquake is nearly over.
Yesterday was my last day at Boffa Miskell - I think, by a thin margin, the longest I’ve worked anywhere so far in my career.
From no books, to a handful of books, to a few boxes of books, my library collection grew. Some were saved from staff offices in our abandoned building, I had a few at home, I purchased a few replacements, subscriptions arrived, and duplicates were identified and press-ganged, bound for CHCH. Yesterday I left our CHCH offices with books on shelves for the first time in 5 months.
Many big changes are afoot for our family: change of city, house, job, and hours. My daughter starts school the same day I start working full time (for the first time in 5 years) as an Academic Liaison Librarian for Health Sciences at the University of Otago’s Medical and Dental Libraries. My husband Steve becomes a contractor offering Learning Solutions consultation on a part time basis. But there will be family, friends and old colleagues there to meet us - Dunedin is our turangawaewae, Otago is our Alma Mater. It’s our other home.
The experience of living and working through a national disaster, recovering a library service, working remotely, dealing with broken homes, land and hearts, has been extraordinary. This has opened my mind to how we live, think and work; how we cope and how marvellously adaptable we human beings are. There’s a long road to recovery for Christchurch and for every individual affected. But we’ll all get there.
We’re physically leaving Christchurch, but I was born here. My family are here; it’s still home.