Behind the scenes: a year of home office at ELAR & ELDP

On the 26th of March 2020 the UK’s first lockdown measures legally came into force, meaning we have now been working from home for an entire year. Read on to find out what the team at ELAR and ELDP has been up to over the past year, what our work looks like behind the scenes, and how much of our work was overseen and disrupted by cats.

Dudley keeping the laptop warm. Photo: Leonore Lukschy

ELAR’s main focus over the past year has been the migration to our new archiving system powered by Preservica. On International Mother Language Day 2021 we finally launched our new platform elararchive.org.

With COVID-19 making linguistic fieldwork as we know it impossible, ELDP grantees had to find ways of conducting their fieldwork remotely. Read about one method of remote linguistic elicitation here, and about doing research using an ELAR collection here.

Bernie photobombing the 2019 ELDP Training. Original photo: Rani Perinparaja
Bernie waiting for SIP Creator to process his materials with the ELDP 2019 cohort

Of course we miss seeing our grantees in person, and went on a Bernie Sanders Meme spree to fill the annual-ELDP-training-shaped hole in our schedule. Check out our blog post about 2019’s training here.

We can’t wait to have in-person events again, but at least ELAR, ELDP and SWLI got to participate in a number of interesting online events instead. Some of these included presenting virALLanguages at a SOAS Alumni event, giving talks at UNESCO forums on Preserving Indigenous Languages, presenting at the PARADISEC 100 conference, and co-hosting an archiving workshop at the 7th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation. And all from the comfort of our own homes… Here are some behind the scenes snapshots of our home office spaces, and cats.

“Here’s a photo of my work desk at home in Islington. I tend to buy fresh flowers from my local news agent to put on the desk every 10 days or so. I also have endless cups of tea and the cat will stroll into the room every so often to see if I’m still there.” 

– Stephanie Petit, Senior Archive Assistant at ELAR

Jay, who coordinates the SOAS Grambank team, has been stuck in Canada for most of the year. Here’s a picture of them enjoying some coffee in the snow. During Team Meetings a number of pets have been featured in the background to everyone’s delight.

Jay Latarche, Grambank Coordinator and Coder

Thanks to Jay, we discovered “Together Mode” and can now have our team meetings in a cozy forest.

ELAR & ELDP in the forest

“Here’s my work set-up during the week – it all gets cleared away at the weekend. Rainbow Dash and Alma’s bike keep me company during the week, and take the place of the desk at the weekend.”

– Sophie Salffner, Digital Archivist at ELAR

“I’m in what is effectively a storage room in a finished attic at my parents’ 150 year old home in Newport, RI. There’s a space heater because there’s no heat up here, but it’s all open to the rest of the house so it’s never really that cold.”

– Sydney Rey, Digital Archive Assistant at ELAR

The cats keeping Sydney company are called Totoro and Bear. Sometimes they hide in the cabinet next to her desk and spy on us during meetings.

Vera’s screen game is pretty unbeatable. She has been spending most of last year working on the technical side of ELAR’s migration, and going for long runs on the beach in Lisbon.

Vera Ferreira, ELDP Support Officer

Jenny has been juggling home schooling and work, here’s a picture of the “classroom” next to her office space.

Jenny Martin, ELDP Manager

Leo has been moving around a lot over the past year, here’s a picture of her office space in Oxford with a view of the garden… and the neighbours’ cat keeping her company.

Leonore Lukschy, Senior Archive Assistant and Communication Officer

Mandana has an office space for ELAR, and one for ELDP. The ELAR one features several cat caves, so no meeting goes by without the cats walking past the camera at least once.

Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Head of ELAR and ELDP Director
Over the year members of the team have been stuck in and working from several different locations, so we’ve become experts at navigating time differences. One day we’ll hopefully be able to have a team meeting with everyone in the same room. Until then we’ll make do with the forest.

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