Monday, December 31, 2007
"Isn't it a bit impious having the Millennium Bug in the manger?"
Mary, Joseph and the three kings are clothes pegs. It's the thought that counts.
"Shouldn't you be back home at Sheep City?" I ask.
"It's closed this week. And last."
"Is it? I didn't know."
"Neither did I until I read the paper a couple of weeks ago."
"I was told to take it as leave but all my annual leave's booked up so I'm working over here while they're closed up."
"It's not just us then."
"Oh no. Mind you, I still won't be able to do a full day today because we're being locked out at four."
Saturday, December 29, 2007
"That looks nice, what is it?"
"Yeugh! I don't know how you can eat that."
"Why, what's wrong with it?"
"Well, just think where it's been. It's been rolling about in a cow's mouth. Yeugh."
"What are you having, then?"
Over the past few years there's been a lot of guff about "democratising" the honours lists. This turns out to mean a couple of honours going to a lollipop lady and/or a dustbinman so that the Establishment can preen themselves for being meritocratic and journalists can cobble together a bit of patronising drivel to take the gloss off the medals a bit. You won't see many front-line library staff in the Honours List. Scarcely suprising given that library mangers routinely discount their achievements. If local bosses won't recognise staff's contribution to the community it's hardly likely that the Queen's going to become aware of them.
Having said that, none of us would sniff at an O.B.E. if there's a spare one lying round. (hint, hint)
Friday, December 28, 2007
"Season's greetings and joy to the world," he says. "Smile, you cynical old fossil, it's Christmas!"
(Somebody got a case of hypocrisy in his stocking this year.)
We got talking and I remembered to ask him about something I noticed the other week.
"How come your business plan is published on Blogger?"
"Same reason our library news and the reader interactive stuff is."
"You're not the only one having problems with his corporate webmasters. We're not to have any pages longer than one screen and if it's not in the National Local Government Navigation list you can't have it on the web site. And I'm having to copy your idea of hosting pictures on Flickr. I'm having to do that so that we've got pictures in our kids' catalogue."
"Sounds horribly familiar... How many news items are you allowed at a time?"
"My God, are they using the same handbook?"
"The lead officer on our corporate development strategy is talking about setting up a Facebook account to host the pages explaining the strategy to the public. And you know the best what?"
"The web team have volunteered me to do the corporate customer feedback pages."
Local government has a definite Alice In Wonderland feel about it these days.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
We'd rather hoped that Santa might have taken away some of the boxes but no luck. Not for the first time I'm wondering why on earth we're buying new stock for two libraries that won't be reopening before Easter. It comes in, it goes into the box ready to be sent into long-promised storage. Most of our 2008 Richard & Judies have gone into storage, together with a pile of CDs and the new collection of e-books we're supposed experimenting with (this last case may be something in the way of a scientific control sample).
I made the mistake of asking why we're doing this. Sigh...
Friday, December 21, 2007
Though we think "team" may be pushing it a bit.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
It looks like Shirley Bassey's handbag but the lads are happy enough.
"It's been a fucking horrible year. Still, there is one thing..."
"We're not having a pie supper this year so we're spared the usual nonsense."
she asks, flourishing, amongst other things, a memo I wrote to Management Group last spring saying: "This is scheduled to happen in the autumn. We really should talk about what we need to do to make sure we're not shafted in the process."
"I've just been given this lot as the background notes for a meeting I'm going to at lunchtime. I've no idea what's been going on and I've no idea what I'm supposed to be doing about it."
"My God, they've made you a library manager without giving you the pay rise!"
Just for the record: I never did get any response from Management Group about that memo.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
An afternoon's worth of reminders of why we are where we are, with an object demonstration of the Public Library Manager Negotiation Model. In brief, the Model works like this:
- Months, or even years, before the event you find out that Something Is Going To Happen. "Plenty of time for that," you say.
- Do nothing.
- If underlings ask, say that nothing is happening.
- If underlings suggest that perhaps "we should decide what we're going to do about this," don't deign to even reply.
- Your first meeting with your adversary is arranged. Do nothing.
- Go to the negotiating table armed with a blank piece of paper. It is important that you have no idea of your desired outcomes of the negotiation.
- Be black aggrieved that your adversary has prepared a negotiating position.
- Be sore affronted that their negotiating position proposes that any advantages go to them.
- On leaving the meeting complain that it's all been stitched up and that there's nothing you can do about it.
- Repeat ad absurdum.
I'd insisted on a pre-meeting meeting (I know, but I'm covering my back). Luckily these days the lead officer on this one is Milton so I only had to be a little insistent (for some people I have to be downright offensive before they'll budge). Even so it was somewhat dispiriting:
"Does the Library Service have a counter-proposal for this?"
"There's no point: they've decided what they want and that's what's going to happen."
T.Aldous on The Nation's Biggest Whiteboard:
"We must do something with this."
Monday, December 17, 2007
- Keeping staff in their place (45%)
- Hobnobbing with The Profession (30%)
- The book sale (15%)
- The colour of the carpet (10%)
- A nice cup of tea (0%)
This is an entirely unscientific sample but the subject of library managers demands a certain lack of intellectual rigour anyway, so we'll accept the results nem. con.
It's really unnerving to find that so many people from round the globe find parallels between Helminthdale and their own working environments. Ah dear... the awfulness of the public library environment when public library managers have their head.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Just for a change we've all just received the IT Section's e-newsletter. It tells us that the new upgrades to the network make it work more intelligently. It is obviously a malign intelligence intent on doing us grave harm. There'll be some smart traffic on the buy-and-sell pages of the intranet as people upgrade their crucifixes and Joan-the-wads.
Amongst other things this means that if I want everyone at a library to have a particular shortcut on their desktop, instead of my creating the shortcut and dropping it into the desktop folder for "All users" I now have to submit a request for IT to do the job. What was a two minute job can now take weeks.
Better still, we have now all received emails from IT complaining about the number of files that are being held on the servers that host the networked folders. "In the event of a disaster it would take three days to restore all the data that had been backed up," they bleat. I've mentioned before that Helminthdale Council isn't big on cause and effect.
I'm old and set enough in my ways to think that networked drives are for zipped backups and for shared folders and hard disks are for day-to-day working gubbins. From a corporate risk management point of view I can't help thinking that the possibility of two thousand PCs having their hard disks crash spontaneously within three days of each other is vanishingly remote.
I have no idea what he was doing or why.
I'm reminded of the running shoplifting gag in Laurel and Hardy's "Tit For Tat."
Milton's a very nice bloke and a very interesting colleague but as a manager he can be bloody hard work at times.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
"We're trying our best to provide services to the public but we never know when we're going to hit a brick wall and find out that we're not allowed to do something for no apparent reason. I feel like I'm lost in a maze."
I agree entirely but I'm surprised to hear that coming from somewhere else in the organisation.
"Do you like frottage?"
"I'm not struck on cheese."
Front-line services like social services, one-stop-shops and libraries tend to have worse records than do corporate support services because they're subject to whatever human pathogens the customers bring along with them, which then get shared around the building.
Our toxic management regime and long-standing policy of leaving vacancies to mature a few years before filling them doesn't help any as far as stress-related illness is concerned.
It turns out that another factor is our disproportionately high number of part-time and job-share workers. If somebody who works two days (15 hours) a week is off sick for both days the council takes that as being a full week (37½ hours) lost. Better still, if two people jobshare 37½ hours between them and both are off sick at the same time it is taken that we have lost 75 hours' work.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Lupin's popped in to do some sorting out of a few PCs that aren't playing nice on the network. Once he'd finished we got chatting, which eventually turned into his giving me a travelogue of his time in the forces and we got to chatting about European languages (I can just about speak English and I can read three others with considerable difficulty; Lupin can manage to speak three and is learning the Gaelic for to better read whisky labels). After a while he said to me:
"I'm here because I like talking to you, but I'm also here because I'm hiding."
"Don't worry, I know the symptoms. We all have to do it sometimes."
"If I wasn't here I'd be taking a pile of boxes down to the tip. That's what we're doing this week. We're not allowed to leave the boxes and packing behind when we install new hardware and it's just occured to our director that half the floor's piled up in cardboard."
I bet if they took all the cardboard boxes out of Helminthdale the place would turn out to be a hamlet made up of three houses and a telephone box.
"No, don't do that."
"They'll need taking down before tomorrow."
"Leave them be. The company that's going to be installing the new shelves will take them down."
"If the shelves are still up how will the builders replace the floor?"
My God, they're breeding!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
"I don't know why Doreen and Julia don't look at these statistics," says Jim.
"What?" I reply, "library managers looking at management information? Isn't that an infringement on their professional know-how or something? Next thing we know they'll be using the figures to demonstrate an increase in throughput and the need for more staffing for the more customer-focussed activities that we need to do to meet our learning and visitor targets."
"I don't understand them at all. I circulated some information about a funding stream that could be used to pay for the staff needed to do more learning activities over the next couple of years. None of them wanted to know."
"Why don't you get it onto the agenda for a Management Group meeting?"
"I take it you've heard about the last one then. My God..."
Quite so. It's better to have your whole management team sitting on the enquiry desk rather than fill existing vacancies and take the opportunity to get external funding for extra staff.
"Can you check the reserve stock stacks for me?"
"Yes, what am I looking for."
"Well, we've been looking all over for them for the past half hour but it turns out that Doreen's put the Writing Group Support Collection into reserve stock."
"Oh, that's news to me, too. Never mind, what am I looking for?"
"It's 'How To Write and Publish Local History' but I might be sending you on a wild goose chase because although the system says that it should be in somebody's just said that it's been issued to another writing group."
Needless to say...
"Daisy Dormouse has re-classified the non-fiction stock here into new subject categories. Can these go onto the Catalogue?"
I'm always a bit bemused by librarians who say that "Dewey's too difficult, we should have non-fiction classified by subject." As a layman I always understood that Dewey was a subject-based taxonomy. What it generally means is that rather than having all the organic chemistry books in one place, the inorganic chemistry in another, nearby place and the books on physics in another place slightly further away you get a bay of "science" books bunched together somehow or other. (Actually, this is what really happens anyway but we're not supposed to admit this.)
I look forward to us having a myriad different classification schemes in the Catalogue, one for each library and a few to spare for people with plenty of time on their hands.
I'm more irritated than bemused by the thought that we're always being told that the librarians at Dutch Bend don't have the time to do this, that or another but they do have the time for this type of nonsense.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Imagine everybody's delight on opening their emails to find their inboxes full of emails from the IT section saying that the network is down.
It should have been about our cultural change programme (somebody's given us public money to stop being feckless and indecisive) (actually they gave it us a few years ago and you can guess the rest). Instead, what little time that wasn't devoted to saying that they really should do something about discussing the staffing structure was spent dealing with a complaint from Julia and Doreen that "it wasn't fair that they covered for vacancies on the enquiry desk and Jim and Milton should do their share."
This is wrong on so many levels:
- "It's not fair" !?! What sort of puerile argument is that at this sort of management level? No wonder we're treated with scorn by other parts of the council.
- It's a gross waste of taxpayer's money to be paying a high-level manager to do the same job as someone who's paid in buttons to staff the enquiry desk.
- If it isn't a gross waste of taxpayer's money then perhaps the person who's paid in buttons should have salary parity with the high-level manager sitting next to them.
- We say we don't have enough staff to properly serve the number of service points we have in our authority. The Audit Commission says we don't. Government inspectors say we don't. But we must do: we open the doors every day and we keep vacancies open for years on end.
- Perhaps the time spent fatally masking staffing problems could be better spent putting together evidence-based business cases for more staff.
Still, what do I know about these things?
Working from home? Whaling from Hokkaido? What flaming Hell? Who knows.
At least the message accords with our Communication Strategy.
"Nobody told you that we're closed on the 29th did they?"
"Err.. no. No, they didn't."
We have a three-week loan period and so items issued on Saturday have a 29th December due date.
"I changed the due dates as I was going along but I think I missed one or two."
I set the 29th as a closed day on the system at this library so at least nobody will be paying overdue fines for that day. It's generally a good idea to do this a we bit earlier than this but why conform to boring norms?
Friday, December 07, 2007
Betty retires from work next week.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Like a whiteboard. Ha ha ha ha.
If Acq. and Admin. don't co-ordinate things so that somebody's always available to answer T.Aldous' telephone for him there's hell to pay (particularly tricky seeing as there are just the five people in these two teams and one is deaf). But it's OK for the whole of Management Group to swan off unannounced for the afternoon.
Frog's reappearance takes some of the pressure off. Unlike me, he works most Saturdays so he knows what to do in the event of an emergency in the absence of Management Group. It turns out to be exactly the same as my plan: we don't know what to do so we'll just have to busk it.
At one time I might have felt put out not to have known about this beforehand so that even if I weren't to be invited I could have some idea of what Milton's suggesting the systems will need to do and when by. (I am only the Systems Librarian after all.) These days I'm more-or-less reconciled to leaving him to his fun.
More or less.
Norma at Windscape has broken her arm Christmas shopping. The good news is that it ought to mend so long as she's sensible about not carrying stuff or banging the arm. She's currently on her third cast in as many days.
Frog's had a car crash. That is to say, a drunk ran a red light, crashed into a van, which crashed into Frog's car. He's mostly OK, though "a little shaken," but the car's not looking healthy. He came into work anyway but after a while he decided that he should go up to Accident & Emergency to be on the safe side ("a little shaken" turned out to be quite shaken indeed). Sitting in the queue waiting to be seen by the doctor he got a text message from Mary:
"You will need to claim the time off from your insurance."
Sybil, the Regional Librarian, is walking with a pronounced limp these days. It's due to a medical condition she's more than happy to talk about now the weather's turned to wet and windy so we're putting it about that it's the result of a botched Brazilian.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Rather than shut the library leaving nothing we've moved a pile of the stock (too much, in fact) to Carbootsale Library, a mile down the road, and extended that library's opening hours to match those of Catty Library.
So the council's finally doing some much-needed building work to bring Catty Library up to scratch and we're trying our best to meet local needs by boosting the service at the nearest alternative library. Good news, no?
"It's a long way for people from Catty to have to go to Carbootsale. They wouldn't have to do that if it was Helminthdale Library that was closed."
Well actually they did. But we're still having to investigate the possibility of providing services by proxy in the local housing office.
But every so often things get just plain daft. One of the blokes being interviewed for the spare caretaker's job at Helminthdale asked a cracker:
"Will I have control of the book-buying budget?"
Monday, December 03, 2007
"I am sick to death of people telling me that they didn't know the library was open again and they don't see why they should have to pay overdue fines in the interim. Why can't we announce that we've re-opened?!?"
Saturday, December 01, 2007
"Despite it all, we are," I reply. I hope I sound more convinced than I am.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Julia and Tommy, the caretaker from Catty, have been over to supervise the shifting over of a pile of shit from said library. It's all loaded into the shopping centre's goods lift so that it can be taken up to the Lending Library floor and dumped in the meeting room up there.
"You'll need to come up with me to help me get all this stuff out," says Seth.
"Do I have to?" asks Tommy. "We need to be getting back to Catty."
"Yes. I'm on me own and I can't do it all by myself."
"All right. I'll just let Julia know."
The next thing Seth knows, Julia and Tommy are driving off into the sunset.
"Yes, for a new floor. The old one's rotten all through. They could do with a new carpet as well, it's been down to the hessian lining for the past ten years. It's closing about the same time as we're supposed to be shifting Roadkill to the new place. You know what that will mean," I say, indicating just a selection of old furniture and boxes of stock.
"Did you know that Doggedly's closing at the same time for a new toilet?"
If it follows me home I'm damned if I'm going to ask my mother if I can keep it.
"Bad news," says Milton. "You know that five-bay study carel in ref?"One down, several million to go.
"The dead heavy one with the ground-level modesty panels that mean you need a team of four people to shift it for to plug in any new computers?"
"That's the one."
"We've not gone and bought another one?"
"But that we could. Turns out it's met with an accident during all the shifting round and we've had to chuck it out as being a health and safety danger."
"Oh that is bad news."
"It's had to be broken up and chucked out. Seth was quite upset about it."
"I can well imagine."
It's now also rendered inaccessible by another desk that's been propped up against it.
"That's the new one for Maybelle," says Seth. It's the one that used to be in the corner of the reference library."
"Where's it going?" I ask. Like an idiot.
"It's staying there."
"So where's the old one going?"
"That's staying there, too."
"I should stop asking questions, shouldn't I?"
"It's been a long week."
Thursday, November 29, 2007
"Nancy reckons the carpeters will be finished in Special Needs by tomorrow morning so she's told everyone we're reopening on Saturday," says Mimsie.
"That's a bit ambitious isn't it?" I ask.
"Not really. Clement's off sick and Lippy's on leave. Billy's going to be spending all day on the Mobile. I'm going to be doing the nursing homes."
"She's going to have tomorrow afternoon off."
"And Seth's shit-shifting at Catty so he won't be able to put the shelving back up..."
"Not remotely ambitious then. I'll be interested to see how it's going to happen."
The Librarian Leadership Course that Nancy and most of Management Team have gone on seems to be weighted in favour of "Put your faith in the night-time industry of pixies."
"All the staff from Catty are coming over here to work for the next few months. I'd like to see where any of them are going to work."
"Easy peasey," says I. "You can delegate it to a working group made up of a dozen people who won't ever be able to get together for a meeting about the project. This is the Helminthdale Way."
Jim looks glummer: "even worse news: I am the working group."
Seth is showing me his schedule of stuff that he's got to shift from Catty to Dutch Bend and Helminthdale tomorrow (bear in mind that Seth is the Helminthdale caretaker) when Milton pops his head into the room.
"Do you know when the upstairs meeting room's going to be cleared out?"
"It isn't. Himself's told me I've got to bring a pile more stuff to put in there tomorrow."
"That's a pity. The place has been booked solid for meetings by external organisations for the whole of next week."
Maybelle Googly's waiting to be told when her secondment starts (she's going to spend a few months being our Community Cohesion Officer)(actually, she's going to spend a few months telling managers that she's now our Community Cohesion Officer and she can't do that job and provide full-time cover on the enquiry desk). A desk has been identified for her; Milton and I have speculated as to whether or not she'll be bought a PC out of the Community Cohesion Funding that's paying for this project or whether we'll be expected to steal one off somebody else, which is the preferred way of resourcing new posts these days. It'll be academic anyway: the desk has been swamped by boxes of stuff that's been taken off the shelves upstairs.
Frog is sitting on boxes of stock and stuff that's been sent his way.
Roadkill moves house around about Christmas, leaving a pile of stock and furniture that won't be making the move and probably coming back here. About the same time, Epiphany Library will be closing for a new floor, which means that all the stock and furniture will need to go somewhere...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Today I've heard three different people singing "Old Man River." With particular emphasis on: "An' dem dat plants 'em / Is soon forgotten."
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
"How much of a problem is it to dismantle the PCs in the Special Needs Section? We need to get them out of the way so that the carpeters can finish this area."
"Oh... It's no problem at all: just unplug everything and you'll be OK. It might be as well to stick a label on the staff PC to remind you which one it is."
"So it's not a problem then?"
"No, not at all. Give me a shout if you need any help."
First I know of this but then again those of us downstairs aren't in the need-to-know loop. Five minutes later she re-appears.
"Can you give Billy a hand with the PCs?"
Yes, no problem. Over I drift to join Billy in the lift lobby. Nancy puts on her coat.
"I'll leave you to it, then. Cheerio, see you tomorrow."
A classic, even for Nancy.
To: All users
From: Network support
Subject: Network performance
Problem: Many users are encountering network access problems, including impaired or no access to shared network drives. Some users are also encountering problems with access to Outlook. This is caused by network performance issues.
Prognosis: There is no current solution to this problem.
We're not big on cause and effect in Helminthdale.
Monday, November 26, 2007
We are obsessed with active borrowers, as someone told the Chief Exec we would have "no problems" upping performance and reaching the target.
At the beginning of September I was asked to produce a list of all those due to lapse that month so that we could mail shot them. Now, getting data off our LMS in mail mergable format isn't exactly the most straightforward process. Anyway having spent ages selecting the data and exporting it into a spreadsheet -- seriously boring work -- I've just been asked for all those due to expire Oct to Dec.
"What have you done with the September file I produced?"
"Nothing, I haven't had time."
Roll on retirement!
Friday, November 23, 2007
"We'll need her to cover on the enquiry desk when we're short on staff."
"Nuts to that," says Jim.
"Besides the fact that it would need a rewrite of the job description, it's about damned time someone had the balls to say that we can't open the library due to staff shortages. We keep telling the council we don't have the capacity to staff this many libraries. The Audit Commission said the same. So did the Peer Review Team. What a load of crap."
One also has to ask what quality of service we would be intending to deliver by having the enquiry desk staffed by the Library Secretary. At a time when we're telling the Call Centre managers that their staff couldn't possibly answer enquiry desk-type queries.
I'm reminded of Maybelle Googly's recent verdict on Management Group, concerning another local matter:
"What a bunch of fuckwits."
"Why? Have they actually let you let go of some of the crap here?" I ask.
"No, but we've agreed to take the sofa from Catty. It's going to go into the reference library."
"It's at Carbootsale. I was there this morning."
"What's it doing there?"
"Getting in the way."
"No, I mean why's it there? Doreen sorted it out with T.Aldous."
"He wanted it to go to Roadkill."
"So why's it at Carbootsale?"
"Because Julia's bought a new one for Roadkill. So she's sent it to Carbootsale before T.Aldous sent it to Roadkill."
"So why didn't she send it here like we'd arranged?"
"Perhaps because she didn't know about it. Doreen's not exactly been communicative of her plans to those of us outside Helminthdale Lending Library. I'm waiting to be told that the People's Network clients are being moved over to part of the library without electricity or network connections."
"But they're going in the young adults area."
"Don't say anything," warns Verity.
"Isn't this the one that was at Catty?"
"Yes. Julia has decided that it's coming here."
"Where's it going?"
"It's staying there. There's nowhere else for it. Unless we pack up all the children's library."
"Julia's bought a sofa for the new library at Roadkill. T.Aldous asked her why she'd done so as there was a perfectly good one at Catty. Julia said that it was needed here. So there it is."
Indeed. As good a way as any to plan a library layout.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
A Complicated Library Song
Panic in the library.
Nothing much that we can see:
Some boxes need to be moved gradually from A to B.
But it's not as straight as that:
Some may need to be packed flat.
A key dependency so wait and see,
Deciding which may could meet any day.
And who is to say?
It could be OK.
They could well decide
Possibly, perhaps, maybe.
Why must every bloody thing in here be so damned complicated?
Getting anything done round this place would be simpler
If they delegated.
It's wishful thinking: you
Can't breathe, you can't move, you can't cough
You can't blink or squint or even fart
Without permission from someone less Dragon's Den, more addle-pated.
No, no, no...
Work lands on you unannounced
All your priorities get bounced.
Where you are and where it's at, you see, it isn't me
Who's tugging out all of their hair.
You're right: it just isn't fair.
We know we're not fooling anyone: it isn't fun.
Like rats in a maze
Wandering round in a daze
With despairs and dismays
Getting anything done, by any old one,
It's just an impossibility.
Why'd they have to go and make things so complicated?
It's a nightmare with every teeny tiny weeny farty
But work's like this, you're
The one who's required to recall rules laid in full
In the runes of a phantom manual
The stuff of legend, otherwise unsubstantiated.
No, no, no..(No, no, no...)
Chill out, whatcha working for?
Give up, it's all been done before.
And if you could only let it be... you will see.
Some fool changes the world.
We sit back, lip curled.
We're trying to be cool, we were that fool not so long previously.
Why'd the have to go and make things so complicated?
And at the same time why does every piece of work we do
Have to be unco-ordinated?
It's a mystery to me.
That they'll sit and they'll talk
And they'll "plan" for a million years
And end up with a progress plan that's terminally constipated.
Why must every bloody thing in here be so damned complicated?
The smoke and mirrors, the buck-passing inactivity gets me so damned frustrated But work's like this, you
Can't breathe, you can't move, you can't cough
You can't blink or squint or even fart
Without the entire purpose of the effort being dissipated.
No, no, no....
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Seth has just been told that he and Kevin the van driver will need to go over to Catty on Friday to clear it out and bring the furniture back here.
Rather despite myself I'm looking forward to seeing where on earth it's going.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
- Catty Library has to be cleared of furniture and fittings by Friday.
- The booksale at Catty Library has been extended to Saturday.
Say goodnight to the folks, Gracie.
Luckily this is a cheapie ("only" £15 each), unlike last week's trade directories which went at £205 a go.
Monday, November 19, 2007
T.Aldous has told them that, as a matter of priority, they need to do some stock-editing of twenty boxes of stock from Noddy and Glass Road, which happen to belong to the other half of the borough but the three Assistant Librarians on that side don't have time to do the job. T.Aldous is insistent that this stock must be transferred to other libraries for to make space on the admin. floor and on no account must they be withdrawn as we've currently got more booksales on the go than we have libraries open to the public.
Salome opens one box and suggests that perhaps we would be better putting it into a damp cellar and harvesting the mushrooms.
After a summer of new stock famine a van's just brought sixty-nine boxes for the Acq. team to deal with. With the complication that they can't get anyone to tell them what to do with the new stock for Catty, which will be closed for months, or Helminthdale which is closed for a few weeks. So that stock's joining the story packs, audiobooks, foreign books, Books For Sharing, treasure chests, bookmarks, extremely large boxes, Larry Grayson, Jimmy Clitheroe, broken microfiches and a horse blanket.
At least the contents of Catty Library will be going into storage so we won't be having to squeeze that into this place, thank God!
Friday, November 16, 2007
"Think about this, Kev, and see if it makes sense to you."
"Don't be negative. We're moving Roadkill Library into the new SureStart complex."
"And we should have been in there a year ago."
"And the delay's caused by indecisions about layout and furniture."
"And there's no network or electricity points available at the counter, which is the one abiding constant in all the plans."
"But we're moving in next month."
"And the SureStart complex is linked to the corporate network via the Community Housing Office on Mulberry Terrace."
"Which closes next month as part of the corporate building strategy."
"So we'll move in a year late and just in time to have the network connections switched off."
"Sounds that way."
"And I am not surprised one bit."
"You have been here a year. You are one of us. Welcome to our world."
Thursday, November 15, 2007
"T.Aldous insisted that I take some more book sale down to Catty. Not that they've got room for it, mind."
"He asked you to do that at the end of the afternoon?"
"This was about three o'clock. Once I got to Catty Julia had me taking stuff over to Carbootsale."
"I saw you bring over the spinners when I was there. But that was about half four."
"That was the first of three trips she had me doing. God knows what they're supposed to be doing with it at Carbootsale, they've no space left any more and everything's piled up in the front porch."
"You look buggered," I remark. "You OK?"
"I am buggered. I just told T.Aldous that I felt knackered and do you know what he said?"
"He said: 'why? What have you been doing?'"
And the same reason would explain why Lupin from IT spent this morning scratting around for a mini-hub to lend us so that we have something to plug these PCs into the network.
And also why I had to nip out and buy some four-way extension leads so that we have electricity to the things.
Unfortunately, the only reason I can come up with doesn't cover the management of the library service in jam and glory.
"It must be bloody good in their house at Christmas:
"Hello love, Merry Christmas. Where's me card and prezzie?"
"I've not got it yet; I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to get to the shops so I didn't bother. I'll get them tomorrow, so long as I'm not doing anything more important like book sale or choosing the colour of a skirting board."
"What's the point? The two of you will be making all the decisions on carpets and furniture and stuff so what's the point of me going over there? It'll just wind up the SureStart managers."
"I don't know why you say that, we've asked for your opinion throughout."
This is true. Maureen was given a swatch of carpet samples to choose from.
"I like that one."
"That's too expensive."
"Or that one."
"That's too expensive too."
"Would it be better if you showed me which are the ones we can afford?"
Then the furniture catalogues:
"I like that."
"No, it will be too dark with the carpet we're having."
"Well how about that? It looks really nice at Glass Road."
"They won't be able to deliver in time. They're bad at working to a deadline."
We should have moved into the new site a year or more ago.
Very brazen mice.
Very brazen mice that skitter across the counter when staff are issuing books to customers.
They've spent most of this morning sitting in the children's library watching the line dancing exhibition.
"This'll be why T.Aldous is so reluctant to have us move into the new library site," says Daisy, "they must be improving the visitor figures."
Dutch Bend had a request to provide cover for Catty Library.
Q: Why is the one library that's open being asked to provide cover for a closed library?
A: Because Catty and Helminthdale, though closed, are open for Booksale and loan of the Richard & Judy Collection respectively.
You probably could make it up but I wouldn't have the nerve.
"What a stupid arrangement this is. I'm trying to serve one of my talking book customers and all the while I've got lending library customers standing there tutting, tapping their feet and complaining about having to wait. And what for? To return books that could be left in a book drop bin or to ask when the library's going to open again. And the photocopier was dragged down and dumped on us and we don't have the first idea how the bloody thing works. And people keep asking us for change for it. The only reason why we have any money in the Section at all is that we've been told that we've got to take fines for overdue books that are being returned rather than telling them that it'll all be sorted out when the library re-opens. We've had to get an OXO tin to put the money in. So we've got all that hassle and what for? To issue and return a handful of books and to really piss off our usual customers."
I nip up and have a quick dekko at the Section again. I can see her point: it looks like a dog's breakfast.
"I think I'll ban Christmas," she mutters darkly.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
It turns out that we will have to scrap the plans to dig tunnel "Ernie" through the book sale boxes. The problem, as always, is what to do with the spoil from the dig.
The plan had been to borrow the method employed in the last unpleasantness (see fig. 1). The spoil would be deposited surreptiously around the library by our tying string around our trouser legs, filling our trousers with booksale books, wandering over to an unfrequented patch in a studiously nonchalent manner and then, when we were sure nobody was looking, releasing the string and dropping the books.
The plan foundered because having looked at the state of the booksale books none of us wanted any of them anywhere near our lily white skins.
I'm happy enough, I had a cup of coffee riding on this wager.
"If I knew you exist I'd have let you deal with him yourself, believe you me."
He's even more put out when they go into the children's library.
"That model of radiator's been against the law for the last ten years."
"I expect they'll be replaced when we're redecorated, they've been promising us that for thirty years."
Every time I go to work I die a little.
Every day I feel a berk and wonder why a little.
Whene'er I ask a question of those who're in the know
They say "just leave it with me,"
When I want "yes" or "no."
When we're there
There's such an air of doom about it.
Pervading each and every room
There is a gloom about it.
Watching years undermine a
That's really just minor.
Every time I go to work.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
"We should have a library service intranet for information like this," says Milton.
"If nobody can be arsed sending out a whole-service email with the news there's no way they're going to be bothered updating an intranet page," I retort.
According to the papers we're providing "limited services" in the Special Needs Section, which has a separate entrance and is partitioned off enough for it not to have to get involved in the carpeting and joinery excitements. None of us know what these "limited services" are, least of all the people staffing the Special Needs Section. When I pop in to try and bring an errant printer to heel (successfully I might add: the secret is to keep aniseed balls in your handkerchief) I spot one clue to the "limited services:" there's a trolley loaded with Richard and Judy Club books and there's a sign on the public PC saying "sorry, no internet."
Catty is marginally better: we've all been told that the library's closed. I suppose it would be precious of me to sulk about having to refer to newspaper reports to find out about collections which are being moved to other libraries, after all I'm just the guy who has to make them available on the circulation system. Millie and Verity warned me about the Richard and Judies and Graphic Novels going over to Carbootsale and Millie warned me about the computer books going to Gypsy Lane. Saturday's Catty Examiner tells me that the Sounds Like A Story collection's following the computer books.
"Yes, Julia's decided they're coming here," says Pansy. "No idea where they're going, though."
Carbootsale looks like the Argos warehouse which box upon box of stuff dumped there from Catty Library. I dare say Gypsy Lane's destined for the same fate.
Monday, November 12, 2007
"It'll act as a replacement network printer but you'll be able to keep the existing one as a back-up in case of problems."
"We barely have space for the network printers we've got and they've got half the footprint."
"They don't have to be on the counter. They can go against any of the walls in the library."
Which is why Milton took him to Windscape, which is our fourth-smallest library physically, has shelves on all walls but the five-foot stretch that give the public access to the People's Network, and which has just enough room to swing a cat.
A very short cat. A very short Manx cat.
"If you had a multifunction device here you'd be able to use it as a fax as well as a printer or photocopier. You can plug it into one of the spare network points."
"We don't have any spare network points."
"Never mind. People will be able to scan and save the files."
"That's good, will they be able to save them on a USB stick?"
"No, they would email them on the internal network."
"But these would be public devices. The public would want to email them to themselves or to external organisations."
"They could send the emails to the library and then your staff could forward them on to the external destinations."
"No. I don't think we'll be doing that."
The current state of play is that the Procurement guy's gone away to try and see if any of the devices in the preferred supplier's catalogue has a smaller footprint than your average cyclotron and then there'll be discussions about how/whether any of this kit could be physically installed in many of our libraries. And then further discussions as to how we manage the service being provided (probably a few months post-implementation, but there we go).
And then the shock of our lives when we see the income target!
"Sorry about that. Jocelyn's just pulling something off for one of the old regulars."
"What? I know we're expected to expand the portfolio of services the Library Service is providing but we're not going that far are we?"
God knows what the income target will be for that one!
The idea of the council being imprisoned for living off immoral earnings isn't an unpleasant one, though.
Friday, November 09, 2007
The usual listless day's hanging about wondering what I'm supposed to be doing for a living. I missed out on yesterday's power cut, which took everything out for ten minutes and left a little bit for me to clean up first thing this morning. That would have made a pleasant change from the usual entirely self-inflicted crises that the Library Service manufactures every other day.
I am bored out of my skull. Not by the work: I really don't mind the number-crunching and systems maintenance and there are times when I quite enjoy it. I'm bored by the job and even more so by the organisation.
"Ho hum, it's another last-minute panic."
"My word, it's another unplanned bit of work with all the key dependancy factors out of control, we've not had one of them for, oooh, it must be a day."
"Good heavens, you tell me that the project you've been wittering on about for the past eighteen months is now overdue and you expect me to guess what you need me to set up for you. How unprecendented."
Somebody mentions burn-out. For one giddy moment I think we're stock-editing the reference library. Ah well, you live in hope.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Those of us in the building know the library's closed because all the lending and reference staff are in box-packing mufti and Seth's shifted the photocopier downstairs from the reference library. The public who have been in the library in the past two weeks may have noticed the signs on the walls. Other than that, publicity is confined to a press release which was sent out on Monday to the local paper, which goes on sale today.
There hasn't been a broadcast email to staff saying that the library's closed and what's happening with returns, reservations, requests, etc. Bit much to ask really.
And as for telling the world on the web site... sigh