We're taking a bit of a breather while the world rearranges its underpants. Meanwhile, the other blog is here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The light at the end of the tunnel is the light of an oncoming train

Our capacity for mismanagement is currently surpassing itself, which is no mean feat. Every time we think we've started scraping the barrel we discover whole new depths to plumb. The runaway trains of our Best Value review (a startling bog-up which commits us to a whole heap of complicated and expensive stuff but which is notably resource-lite) and the forthcoming Audit Commission inspection seem to be concentrating minds rather in the same way that being simultaneously defenestrated and debagged brings a certain focus and clarity to the proceedings. The last inspection, two years ago, left us awarded zero stars and "no prospect of improvement." Since then, issue figures have gone down a quarter; visits have been boosted enough by the People's Network for them to have only dropped by 10% and staff morale has plummeted to the point where I've been having to act as cheerleader-in-chief for Library Management Team amongst the poor huddled masses, not a rĂ´le I'm used to.

And now we've just heard about the announcement of a new management structure. The announcement was limited to just "the people affected by the changes," which turned out to be all the librarians and no one else. The other ranks had to wait to hear officially for another six weeks, though by then the damage was more than done. The new structure is actually sensible and long-overdue. The way it's been presented, and a few of the side shows, have been astonishing.

All senior management posts are re-graded big time “to attract the right people”. This has gone down well with the Library Assistants who have been waiting over a decade for their regrade to be implemented. One interesting quirk of the new posts: they’re all on operational library hours rather than flexi-time or work/life balance (“celibacy and adoption” as that’s known here). The reason? So that they can cover the enquiry desk on Saturdays and Thursday evenings. We have people being paid c. £12k single-staffing libraries and the Library Service accounts for about half of the council’s lowest paid staff. On the plus side, we will have the best-paid enquiry desk staff in the country.

Talking to a colleague about something else (we were comparing approaches to a common problem with our web catalogues) I mentioned the restructure and had a good long moan about it.

"Bugger me!" cried my colleague, "it sounds just like what happened here last year."

"How's it working?" I asked.

"No idea, they still haven't appointed any of them yet."

It's not just us.

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