To my utter surprise, a stock rotation add-on to the library management system is signed, sealed and delivered despite Arthur Sixpence having put the funding for it up as a saving on 2005/6 (he was probably so busy shilly-shallying about it that he missed the deadline and the funding was brought forward by default). So I'm having a play to establish the mechanisms and sketch out some procedures. This involves fifty popular science books from one of the travelling collections which has been sitting in a box by the clock machine since September waiting to be moved on by the non-existant Stock Librarian. I split it up into ten piles of five and allocate each pile to one of the branch libraries in the system and send them on their way, with a note saying: "please put these in non-fiction; they're being used to trial automated stock rotation. I'll be writing some notes soon, once I have you'll get a copy."
'Phone call from Dagmar Braithwaite at Doggedly Library:
"What's the point of sending me all these [five!!!] science books? They'll never go out here. Science books never go out here."
"You've got no science books. Could that be the reason?"
"We've not got any because they'll never go out."
I try to explain as diplomatically as I can that even if these books don't go out they're different enough to make it obvious that fresh stock's coming into the library and it might cater for unvoiced needs within her borrowers.
"It's always useful to test the market," I say.
I don't say: "I'm not your librarian so you can't bully me into only providing you with family sagas, true crime and cookery books for your old ladies." And I didn't point out that the analysis I did when I was number-crunching for CIPFA demonstrated that 55% of the library's issues were to ladies over the age of 60. Instead, I appeal to her sporting instinct and there's now a fiver riding on whether or not we get three issues out of those five books in the next three months.