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

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings and right down the back of your suit

Uh-ho Chungo! June is Surestart Month. I hope we survive it unscathed. This is the month where the costs and benefits of Surestart are both magnified to the max. We have been doing some wonderful things with Surestart projects and funding and it shows both in the statistics and in the faces of the kids in the photographs. The down side is that it is so narrowly focused geographically as well as topically. What happens is that lots and lots of things for pre-school children and their parents/carers are happening in three of our libraries -- often crowding out activities for other parts of the library community at those libraries -- and bugger all gets done anywhere else save weekly-ish under-fives' story times at half a dozen places when we can manage it. And of course the Surestart project workers can forget that they're not the only game in town and their high priorities aren't always ours, which leads to occasional tensions. (Of course, that last is always true of any specialist service: I've sometimes had to point out to our people that it's no good shouting at the IT department when we're panicking about a forthcoming inspection if they've got other departments panicking about Ofsted and the Social Services Inspectorate at the same time.)

During Surestart month the gulf grows deeper, with so many things going on at one library in particular that the staff there feel like unwanted lodgers. I can only sympathise and put a superhuman amount of effort into not winding staff up any further (which would be the work of a moment as in an earlier life I lived and worked with social workers manquées and find them a couple of orders of magnitude more irritating than professional librarians -- it's amazing how often it's the people in "caring professions" who are happiest to plough their own furrows regardless of other people's feelings).

With a bit of luck all will be well and nobody will get silly or prima-donna-ish and the libraries and their customers will reap the undoubted benefits of Surestart activities without alienating anybody in the process. I know Frog's spent the past few weeks going out of his way to smooth ruffled karmas in the hopes of calming everyone down before the programme starts. Fingers crossed he's succeeded!

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