Biscuit knows how to keep meetings exciting. Rather than walking into the frame of librarian Sarah Katz's meeting, she attacks the computer and swings her paw into view.
With new workspaces come new co-workers. All of our adorable young kids and beloved pets come with big personalities that both challenge and entertain us.
These new colleagues have taught us a lot these past few weeks. Here are a few of the things we’ve learned:
1. Embrace their creativity.
After several weeks of virtual meetings, our pets no longer simply saunter into the camera frame for some screen time—they get creative. Biscuit, the crafty cat of librarian Sarah Katz (pictured above), recently made a memorable entrance when she snuck up and attacked Sarah’s laptop from behind. As Biscuit attacked, Sarah’s meeting guest could see the laptop shaking and a giant, swinging paw come into view.
2. Be prepared to talk to the hand.
Literally. On several occasions, Sam, librarian Meg Grotti’s six-year-old son, has joined her on Zoom meetings to actively participate—but not how you might think. Sam stood off camera, put his hand over his mom’s shoulder, and opened and closed his hand like a sock puppet when he spoke.
3. Snacking requires supervision.
When you’re surrounded by snacks at home, it makes it challenging to stick to what we should eat versus what we want to eat. Just ask Autumn, library assistant Jessica Deshaies’ cat, who spends her days looking at her bunny brother Ridley as if he’s lunch. Ridley looks at laptop charging cords the same way—bunnies love chewing cords. Luckily, the Deshaies household hasn’t lost any yet.
4. No plan is foolproof.
We can try to keep our little ones busy, but it won’t always work. Librarian Kayla Abner has a decoy chair for her cat Zeus, a special spot right next to her desk just for him. Most days, he’s content to ignore her from the comfort of his chair. Other times, he walks into a video meeting while Kayla is mid-sentence, plops down in front of her and completely blocks the entire frame.
5. Be ready to brush up on the basics.
There’s a lot going on right now, so we don’t blame anyone for being confused these days. Luckily, Tywanda Cuffy, director of library external relations, is there to remind her three-year-old daughter Maya when she gets mixed up on a couple things. One: Yes, Maya, it is possible for Tywanda to be your “Mommy” and teacher. Two: No, Maya, the picture of your mom’s colleague in her Zoom call is not “Daddy,” they just have similar skin tones and hairstyles.
6. Always check your surroundings.
Sometimes pets are so quiet, you don’t even realize they are there. So when technology support specialist Kelsy Frank felt an unexpected tap-tap-tap on her leg from under the giant, fluffy blanket she uses every day, she may have freaked out. When she mustered the courage to look under the blanket, it was just her housemate’s cat, Mars, staring innocently up at her.
7. They want to be just like you.
Okay, pets usually just want to be on top of you, but little kids want to be just like you. As administrative assistant Ann Marie Cochrane has found herself on more Zoom calls than usual, her 10-year-old daughter, Abby, has been inspired to use the platform for her own meetings. In fact, Abby rescheduled an in-person meeting with her principal to talk about starting a gardening club at the school for a 30-minute Zoom call instead!
8. Sentiment is more important than spelling.
With little hands and little paws so close to the computer keyboard, the emails and messages you get—or send—may not exactly always be intelligible. Case in point: “This PDF is fairly short and it gives a really nice, straightforward description of something we discussed in a staff meeting a few wee4ks a7go11111114555555555555555555555555555555555555555 55555541111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111.” That message comes courtesy of Sancho, who is one of the cats working from home with Interlibrary Loan (ILL) coordinator Megan Gaffney. He just wanted to add his two cents to an email Megan sent to the ILL team. Sure, he’s not the best typist, but he tries.
9. Enjoy their guest appearances. Everyone else does!
During this time of remote work and social distancing, seeing someone’s kid or pet on the screen helps us all feel a bit more connected. In the middle of an important meeting, librarian Kaitlyn Tanis had a surprise visit from her cat Dusty, who doesn’t normally make such appearances. She was embarrassed until she saw her colleague’s excitement, smile and quick response, “Oh, hello! Who is this?”