Starting A New Job In Lockdown…

How do you start a new job in lockdown? Towards the end of April, I began my new job as the general manager of the Ipswich Institute Reading Room and Library. It has been the strangest way to start a new job as I haven’t been able to go into work, and my office is the dining room table. The handover from Hugh Pierce, who is retiring from the Institute, took place on the phone over two weeks with both of us working from our respective homes. I am now starting my fourth week and as yet I haven’t met any of the staff, members, trustees or tutors in person, apart from a quick introduction to a few when I had my interview for the position way back in February. I have pages of notes ready for when we can re-open and have had lots of virtual meetings with trustees and staff who aren’t furloughed, but it certainly isn’t the way I thought I would be beginning my new role.

The Institute has a library, reading room, runs adult education courses, trips for members around the UK, and has a member’s café and restaurant. You may have walked past the blue door on Tavern Street and wondered what was behind it. It is currently entirely closed. Some of the tutors have made the transition to online courses or meet up via Zoom and other distance learning tools, but nothing is quite the same as meeting and learning together in person.

In order to try and stay in touch we have been sending out regular email updates to furloughed staff, keeping our social media ticking over with suggestions for online alternatives to our usual offer and starting up an Instagram account with book recommendations from staff.

I never thought I would be starting a new job this way, but I am really looking forward to a time when we can re-open the Institute doors and welcome our members back again. If you have taken up a new hobby from home such as singing, art or yoga and would like to expand your knowledge once we can go out and about again, check out the Institutes website for daytime and evening courses in the future and how to become a member.

Jo Rooks

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