A year to be grateful for

April 22, 2021

It was the afternoon of Thursday, March 12, 2020.  Our staff congregated for an unexpected meeting, to hear the news that we should finish up our work, collect our belongings and laptops, and prepare to work from home for the next couple of weeks.

More than a year later, we’re still working from our homes. In the interim, we’ve met each other’s new “coworkers”—family members and pets. We’ve learned how to work in isolation. And how to juggle bandwidth issues. For some, every single member of the family—even five-year-olds—had to be on Zoom meetings.

But we were also grateful.

Even while social media has been filled with funny tales of people trying to stave off their newfound boredom, and the news has been filled with heart-rending stories of housing and financial insecurities and social injustices, we’ve been busy as ever. Still working. Still serving our audiences to the best of our ability. How have we managed? Well, in part (and without even meaning to be) we were prepared.

Our audiences

We treasure our in-person visitors and look forward to welcoming them back again to the Research Room and to our exhibits! But a lot of the people we reach never come to Boston, and we’ve already spent years working on ways to meet them where they are.

A changing workplace

Before March 2020, close to half of our employees were already working one or more days from home. In fact, the entire Mary Baker Eddy Papers team had already been remote all the time. Everyone on our staff was used to Zoom meetings, even before much of the world knew what Zoom was.

Technology

Thanks to Mother Church service departments like the Technology Services Group and Broadcast & Multimedia Production Services, everyone at the Library already had everything we needed on that March day to easily move into remote work set-ups.

Commitment to rules and regulations

Not long after the start of the pandemic, a careful and thoughtful re-opening team put comprehensive requirements and procedures into place for limited on-site work. This has meant that employees have been able to work in our Boston offices on specific days, to accomplish tasks that could only be done there.

Accomplishments

And what have we been able to get done over this past year? A lot!

We’ve scanned documents and provided access to important historical records. Engaged in content development for new exhibits. Produced online children’s programming. Attended online conferences and webinars. Published new website content. We’ve even presented papers and moderated panel discussions. And we’ve done so, so much data clean-up in our databases and content management systems!

Here are some numbers to quantify just a portion of that work. In the past year, we have:

  • received and answered over 1,700 research questions and document or photo requests.
  • finished publishing all of Mary Baker Eddy’s correspondence for 1885—that’s 1,035 documents transcribed, verified, annotated, edited, encoded, and published, and nearly 800 “people blurbs” researched and written.
  • fact-checked over 800 footnotes for upcoming publications.
  • published 56 articles on our website.
  • produced 13 podcasts.
  • posted to Facebook and Instagram hundreds of times, with increased engagement and many new followers.
  • welcomed two new permanent employees and worked with a number of temporary employees.

It’s been a very different year. But in a lot of ways, it’s also been a very good year.

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