Trenia Napier, Associate Director, Programs & Outreach for the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity at Eastern Kentucky University is one of many faculty members missing the normalcy of life before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Life for Napier has changed since the arrival of COVID-19. Napier shared that she has multiple roles she is responsible for within the library department at EKU. Although her job duties have not changed, her COVID-19 experiences have amplified because of the many roles she fills. Napier is not only a faculty member of the library but also supervises the student employees. Napier’s workload has not changed, only her location.
As far as her library responsibilities are concerned, she is conducting most of her work from home this semester. Napier commutes to campus one day a week. She shared that her favorite part of her job was the spontaneous interactions she had with students daily and that she misses the spontaneity of her pre-Covid life.
Napier spoke about the love she had for the times when she could have casual interactions with students hanging out in the library.
“There’s less of that spontaneous interaction. In fact, all levels of interaction has declined,” stated Napier.
In the midst of COVID-19, Napier has completed multiple pre-recorded teachings for university professors as well as classroom zoom sessions.
“We are still doing the same types of things, just shifting where they take place. I’m glad to still be working with students in that way, but it does change the dynamic of it,” Napier said.
Napier shared she feels the change in classroom interactions is one of the hardest parts of COVID-19. Before COVID-19, Napier enjoyed pairing students up and using small groups when teaching. Using online instruction makes this style of teaching very difficult.
Confirming the feelings of many EKU students, Napier agreed with the facts that using breakout rooms require more planning and are oftentimes intimidating and awkward.
A librarian’s job is very collaborative and hands on in their work style. Not many decisions are made without having the entire staff’s input. Napier shared that the EKU library staff has two types of jobs. One of the two staff categories is the public facing staff, and the other being the internal staff.
The public facing staff must communicate to the internal staff how the students operate and react to upcoming changes. These two staffing styles must collaborate together to make important decisions and that is way more difficult to do over the internet. Napier is a part of the public facing staff so she attends many zoom meetings to speak on behalf of the students.
These drastic changes did not come without preparation. Napier felt she was reasonably prepared when it came to these changes. With more and more traditional classes being offered online, the library has been forced to make adjustments to accommodate these online students. These online transitions aided in the transition to a primarily online semester.
Napier admits the library staff was a little rusty when it came to their online capabilities, but as with every department across campus rose to the challenge.
Napier shared, “I don’t think things will resume as normal until at least fall of 2021.” Napier is hopeful things will return to normal sooner but is continuing to make the most out of the current circumstances.
Life has drastically changed for Napier since the Coronavirus swept across the United States. Napier is a prime example of the difficulty adjusting the university staff has undergone to make the college experience as normal as possible for the students at Eastern Kentucky University.