Adapting to the New Normal

Gaz J Johnson

An update on some of the developments at the Mercian Collaboration, as we begin to adapt to current challenging working environment.

As we all adjust to the often uneasy ‘new normal’ that we find ourselves in, remote working while dealing with a rapidly changing social environment, the Collaboration is not immune to having to adapt. As we previously announced, and in line with governmental and institutional policy, we’ve had to suspend our physical events programme, which we’re aware will be disappointing for many potential delegates and organisers alike.

However, behind the scenes the Collaboration is slowly drawing up plans for future activities. Today I’ve been involved in conversations with three different groups, and I wanted to share with you, the membership, a little taste of what we’re currently doing.

Firstly, this morning I hosted a video-conference with the officers of the MSDG (Mercian Staff Development Group). Among the things we discussed were where we felt elements of our planned programme could potentially pivot to an online event. We are regrettably, not that confident that format shifting will be possible for the current events programme, although we’ll be speaking to all of the organisers to see if they feel the same. However, we also started to discuss the possibility of hosting some virtual networking events. I’ve hosted a few professional online coffee mornings already, which have been very successful. The hope is we can use these as a template to enable gatherings of the scattered library staff communities, enabling them to share their experiences and techniques similarly to our physical events.

Membership Survey

The MSDG is also looking beyond the immediate situation to the future, and wants YOUR input on future events: both physical and online. That’s why they’ve launched a brief member survey which we’d encourage you all to participate in. It only takes a few moments, will help us better shape the future of the Collaboration’s events to suit our member community, as well as indicate your interest in attending a future virtual networking event.

>You can find the survey here:  (closes 20/April/20)


Meanwhile, I met with the Chair and Sponsor for the Conference Group this afternoon, and while we strongly suspect that a physical conference this year is no longer going to be advisable, here too we’ve begun to take steps to enabling a virtual conference experience. It’s too soon to say for sure quite what we will be doing, but our hope is that our brilliant and dedicated conference team will be able to bring Collaboration members together in an engaging and exciting new experience this September.

Beyond the Region

Alongside that I've also been joining with the other regional collaborations’ officers in discussions about what we're each doing to support our communities, and where there might be some overlaps or advantageous experiences to learn from. We were as a discrete and specialised community of practice due to meet for our annual colloquium next week, and consequentially are now looking towards hosting our own online gathering. Naturally, we’ll each use the shared experience to benefit our own collaborations membership. I’m also aware that SCONUL is pulling together a resource to guide the academic library staff of developments which their partners are taking to support their community.

Keep in Touch

That’s it for now, but keep a careful watch on our twitter feed or these news pages for further updates. Altherntively, if you have some news, thoughts or advice to share, please do get in touch directly ( more than ever right now, we need to keep talking, sharing and supporting one another through these challenging and difficult times.