Lucas Schneider shares his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020. He describes the work he has been doing remotely for the library since the library's closure on March 17th. Lucas talks about connecting with friends through the virtual gaming platform, Discord.
Narrator Name: Lucas Schneider
Interviewer Name: Danny Atwater
Date of interview: 04/15/2020
[00:00:33] - Working from home, library projects, walking at night in the Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy
[00:01:48] - Professional development activities from home, technical projects
[00:03:21] - Working remotely,missing interpersonal relationships
[00:04:05] - Maintaining connections with friends and family via phone, chat, and Nintendo Switch gaming
[00:04:52] - Nighttime walks in Pheasant Branch Conservancy
[00:05:57]- Positive outcomes of COVID-19 closure: more quality family time, opportunities for interesting projects at work
[00:06:43] - Thanks for sharing
Interviewer: My name is Danny Atwater, and I am a Library Assistant for Madison Public Library. This interview is being recorded as part of the Madison Living History Project’s Safer at Home story series. Today’s date is Wednesday, April 15, 2020. Now, to our storyteller. Please tell us your full name, and how would you describe yourself?
Lucas Schneider: My name is Lucas Schneider, and, coincidentally, I am also a Madison Public Library employee. I am a Library Page at the Madison Central Library, downtown.
Interviewer: Lucas, what have the past few weeks looked like for you, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Safer at Home order from the governor?
Lucas Schneider: I’m fortunate enough that I have been able to work from home, which was initially uncertain, just because I’m an hourly worker who normally works on desk and performs check-in and checkout duties, which don’t directly transfer into working at home. But luckily over the past few weeks there have been enough projects that I’ve been able to take part in, so I’ve been able to keep busy with that. I’ve just been living, in my room, for the vast majority of the day. Luckily, I live in Middleton, very close to the Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy. As often as I can, I try to take walks, usually at night, because I’m doing my best not to be around other people—social distancing and all that. I’ll start walking around outside, and maybe call someone on the phone and talk to them for a few hours just while walking through the conservancy. I’ve also gotten caught up on a ton of video games that I didn’t have the time for before. A healthy balance of staying social, but also getting work done, and then self-care too.
Interviewer: You mentioned two aspects, one being work life at home, and the other being your own personal life at home. Let’s explore work life a little bit. What does work look like for you at this time? You mentioned some projects. What is it that’s keeping you busy, working at home?
Lucas Schneider: I guess as soon as the library initially closed, there was still a little up in the air about what us as pages would be allowed to do, or what would count as working from home. There was a bit of scrambling to gather some professional development, like TED talks, or are there webinars that we could watch, which—I’ll be honest—I was a little skeptical of it at first, but a lot of them I did find a lot of value in. For example, we were given a playlist of seven TED talks on mindfulness through yoga or meditation or whatever, and that’s probably something I wouldn’t have committed to watching of my own accord. But because it was encouraged by my employer, and when I did watch it, I really connected with the messages that those videos were talking about, especially now, just trying to exist within the moment or taking things one step at a time.
Nowadays, a few weeks later, a lot of the projects I’ve been working on have been a lot more technical. I’m pretty passionate about computer science stuff. One project is helping develop an online database, trying to keep track of community partnerships that all of the various Madison libraries have with the community. And other technical projects.
Interviewer: Do you find that work to be as rewarding as you would normally get in your regular work, or is there a component of working with the public that’s missing?
Lucas Schneider: Yeah. I definitely do find the work I’m doing now rewarding. But at the same time I really miss the interpersonal relationships you form while working on desk, and getting to meet people who live in my community from day to day. While we’re all still trying stay at home I’ve definitely been calling friends and family to chat with them a lot more, but I also still really miss the personal interactions you have with people, again, from the community that I probably wouldn’t talk to otherwise, if not for working as front line desk staff.
Interviewer: You mentioned reaching out to friends and family digitally. What sorts of methods do you use to do that?
Lucas Schneider: The most frequent would be talking on the phone, while I’m going for a walk outside. But I’ve also been doing a lot more online gaming with friends. I happen to have a Nintendo Switch, so some of those games I’ll play online with people I’m friends with. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the app, Discord. It’s a chatting application primarily for people in the gaming community. You can text chat, or voice chat, and also screen share. We’ve been playing some games online where one person will have the game up on their computer, and then we can all watch through the app while talking to each other. That’s been really fun, too.
Interviewer: You mentioned going for walks at night, because you live near Pheasant Branch, did you say?
Lucas Schneider: Yeah.
Interviewer: Do you get to see people out in the neighborhood? Are people keeping their distance? When you look out your window, what does it look like these days?
Lucas Schneider: I live on the outskirts of a residential neighborhood. I live pretty close to the Beltline; if I look out my window from home I don’t really see people walking about. If I were to go to Pheasant Branch, which is just a few blocks away, if I went during the day I’d probably see way too many people out, which I am not comfortable with. A lot of the time I feel like I’ll be walking, and if I’m walking past someone, they’re obviously not making an effort to try to keep an acceptable distance between us. It’s on me to veer off into the ditch and walk around them, which is annoying, but, like I said, that’s why I like to go at night. Last night I went for a walk, was from, like, eight to ten, and I literally only saw one other person, who was on a bicycle. That made me feel a lot more comfortable.
Interviewer: What are some good things that you see going on right now in the world?
Lucas Schneider: I guess I’ll respond to that as it’s specific to me, personally. I’ve definitely been keeping in touch with my family, calling my mom and dad and brother a lot more frequently than I would be otherwise. That’s a positive thing for both of us, I suppose. With regard to work, I feel like I’m being afforded the opportunity to show my areas of expertise as far as contributing to all of these various projects that I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to step up and attempt to do, just because if the library was still open I would mostly be reserved to spending basically all of my shift on desk, and doing more basic circulation tasks. If nothing else, it’ll look good on a resume moving forward. (laughs)
Interviewer: Lucas, thank you for your time and for sharing your story.
Lucas Schneider: My pleasure.