"Noddy Library closes on 17th February to move to its new site. Can you change the due dates on the system so that they're not stamping closed dates?"
"When do they re-open?"
"Don't know. It depends on when the network connection to the new site's installed."
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
"Is six minutes a record for a project to go from initiation to being kicked into touch by T.Aldous?" asks Milton.
He'd had an email from someone saying that if he could think of a way of spending £28k on community development activities before the end of the financial year the money was his. As it happens, we've been bouncing ideas on this around for a week or two so he just needed to pull together some of the costings to put together an outline plan. Then he made his fatal error: he emailed Management Group for input. And as bad luck would have it this was the email that T.Aldous would open today.
We need to get together and have a think about this.
It's uncanny to think of all the thousands of emails that go unopened in that mailbox.
Monday, January 29, 2007
I could change the settings on the system tonight so's the new regime takes place tomorrow. Or on Wednesday night so's it takes place from 1st February. But no: Management Group has decided it takes effect from next Monday.
"How are they doing that?" I ask.
"What do you mean?"
"I'm not coming in Saturday night or Sunday to do it."
So the compromise is that I do it on Friday night at close of play. The delay is necessary so that a memo can be written, checked, corrected, printed and sent out to libraries. I wonder why the memo hasn't been drafted already given that this has been on the cards for months. Milton has a deeper question:
"Why don't they send everyone an email?"
He's new, he doesn't know how things work here yet.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
"Oh, excellent! There's plenty of space here for the book sale books."
"But I need the space to get the book sale books out of the way for this weekend's event. They'll only be here for a week or so."
A week or so in Helminthdale is half a decade. They only had enough room for the new books for Noddy because they took an executive decision to "disappear" some Italian children's books that were a long-forgotten gift from our twin town. Mary and Noreen dug their heels in and Doreen went away thwarted and frustrated.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
"Can they supply quickly? We need it as soon as possible."
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
"I really wouldn't have done that, or put that that way and I wouldn't have included that or that. But then again I do have many years more experience of doing publicity work than you."
I turn on my heel before I get embroiled and find myself asking exactly when he did this publicity and how come every publicity activity that I know of that came within his radar died stillborn at the last minute while he had a think about what was necessary to completely redo the whole thing.
The grinding noise was Bronwyn's teeth.
Monday, January 22, 2007
What has been wonderful is that the 'phones have been lovely and quiet. This can't have been because senior managers weren't sitting in their offices with their telephones through to other people's desks despite leaving messages with all and sundry to ring them back as a matter of urgency:
"Could I speak to T.Aldous please."
"I'll just check and see if he's around."
"He must be, he just rang me and told me to ring him back."
And they still weren't sure so they went to ask Noreen to let them know whether it should have been one or two litres in the end.
Apparently they should have set off for Abattoir Lane Community Centre half an hour ago but T.Aldous has just arrived and told them that it's nine thirty, not eight thirty after all. So rather than waste time getting anything productive done they're cluttering the lobby talking about their weekends. Leading by example.
"I'll have to get some HRT patches. Then next time one of them has a go at me I'll just slap a patch on them and leave 'em to it," says Frog.
It pains me to think that these people are senior managers and they feel free to behave like this. This is the sort of thing that just reinforces the glass ceiling on women managers.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Don't be too hard on the old dears: this must happen all the time at the day centre. I expect it's almost a daily occurence and the novelty's worn off a bit.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
"Madame Tussaud's must have a touring repertory group."
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
This is the first I know about it but I'm just the bloke who's told he can't walk away from the new web site because his work on the old site was so valued.
This is the first Lola knows about it but she's just the person who's been made responsible for the new web site because she was nearest Mary's door when she received a panicky 'phone call when I was off sick last year.
And this is the first Frog knows about it but he's only responsible for children's library services in the Borough.
I'm told that Management Group's priority for January is "communication."
With some difficulty I fight back the natural response.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
The major project now is how to find room for all these boxes. Seth makes a suggestion:
"Couldn't all those display stands that T.Aldous bought and stackedup in the fire corridor last June go out on display in some of the libraries? Then there'd be plenty of room to stack these boxes. They'll only be there for a week or two and we'll then have a clear fire exit."
So instead we're piling boxes ten deep in the corner by the filing cabinets.
The parallel argument is that "they're expensive so we need to get our money's worth out of them." I'm sorry, if an encyclopedia doesn't earn its keep on the reference library shelves then we shouldn't be buying it in the first place.
The upshot is that libraries who moan that they don't have enough room on their shelves for new stock have shelves groaning with copies of the 1985 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Monday, January 15, 2007
The psychological techniques I've been learning as I've been going along have helped enormously in managing most of the stress symptoms: I'm not throwing up every morning before going into work and I'm chasing off the anxiety attacks long before they build up any strength. But the depression is dug in for the long haul and is being constantly fed by the irritations and idiocies of Helminthdale. As I say, I have been resisting antidepressants but in my last session it became apparent that I am seriously going to have to reconsider my position. I've learned over the years that reality is defined by the most insane element in the working environment, which explains much of the Helminthdale experience. I'm just not comfortable with being that defining element myself.
Of course, the question arises: what type of job is it that requires somebody's having to take medication to get through the working day. The answer is: a job that will be very easy to walk away from.
"Mary, call for you."
"Who is it?"
"Who's Matilda Forbush? I don't know a Matilda Forbush."
"I don't know, I just took your call for you."
Mary always queries who the call's from, why they're calling and who is this person. Why she can't just take the bloody 'phone call is beyond me.
Ron's finest hour, perhaps, was his meeting with T.Aldous and Henry Irving last autumn where they were discussing the Archives Service, which we part-fund. Ron wasn't getting what he wanted out of the meeting (which was "we will give you unlimited funds to do as you damned well please") and once that became apparent he did no more than turn his back on T.Aldous and Henry and start working on his PC, completely ignoring the meeting that he'd called as an urgent priority. His visitors pointedly carried on with the meeting, literally talking to Ron's back and making — and minuting — a bunch of decisions that Ron wouldn't ordinarily countenance in a million years but which he agreed to by default because of his utter ignorance.
He once sent Shagger Noakes an email, copied to me and T.Aldous saying:
"It is disgraceful that the archives are not catalogued on a computer system. I will ask Kevin why this is not the case."
"You didn't want the archives on the Library Management System when we first installed it fifteen years ago and you have done nothing about getting the archives catalogued since. What are you doing about this disgraceful state of affairs?"
It all went quiet after that.
Friday, January 12, 2007
I was trying to be serious and responsible in a meeting when I heard T.Aldous say:
"Well, I'm not proscriptive on the way we describe things so long as the job gets done."
I had to bite the inside of my cheek so hard to stop laughing that I drew blood.
Apparently, Jim made the mistake of reporting back on the BIMs to Management Group. At which point T.Aldous asked why they were called "Business Improvement Meetings" as
"They're not about the business library service."
All the people who might ever refer to "Business Improvement Meetings" were sitting around that table and were all clear about the scope and purpose of these meetings but T.Aldous insisted on a renaming and was only just prevailed upon not to spend the whole of that Management Group meeting talking about it. And so it was that at the next ex-BIM they decided on "Library Improvement Meetings," which prevailed for all of ten minutes. Milton came out of the meeting looking a bit shellshocked.
"What did they call it in the end?" I asked him.
"How do you know?"
"I saw T.Aldous going into the meeting room."
"He said that 'Library Improvement Meeting' sounded like we were talking about carpets and shelving."
"How long did he spend talking about it? Half an hour?"
"Not half an hour."
"Not that long."
"What did he call them in the end?"
"Target Improvement Meetings."
"Doesn't that suggest that the meetings are about improving the targets rather than checking on our ability to meet them?"
"If you say that out loud again in this building you're a dead man."
Thursday, January 11, 2007
I am da masta! I have found out that I can beat yor security. I have looked at yor files because I am a pretty good expert and I know that the passwords for yor computers in Sheep City is sheep and how I know this is that I can read yor password. I can in yor system and I can know good how it works. I want you let the newspapers know what I can do to you.
I pass it on to IT Security. If I were working my notice -- or if I were working my passage for a medical discharge (ooh matron!) -- I'd have sent him this reply:
We have found out that you are an illiterate moron with a small dick. We want that you let your girlfriend know this but we know you haven't got one.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
"Where do you want this line putting?" asks said engineer.
Decisive as ever, T.Aldous springs into action: he rings Helminthdale to tell Milton that he needs to go down to Noddy to answer a technical question. Milton's come in by train today so can't drive down. "Which bus do I need to get?" he asks. As T.Aldous doesn't know and can't suggest how Milton might find out (Milton sitting as he is in an office behind the reference library and across the road from the bus station) he insists that Milton tells Jim to drop what he's doing and drive Milton down to Noddy. Which Jim does. And as T.Aldous insists on his sticking around while T.Aldous discusses where the line should go with Milton, and there is only one place in the end where the line can go -- and that's where I marked the plan with a cross fifteen months ago -- it's a dead waste of expensive time.
I wonder if anyone's ordered the 'phone line yet.
I have every expectation that I'll be using the full list of suggestions as the corporate environment evolves over time!
I tried the quiz and found out that I was Superman. This is a crushing disappointment: I had hoped that with my dark, brooding manner and saturnine good looks that I might have turned out to be someone sexy like Batman or Grimly Fiendish.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Monday, January 08, 2007
Says the man who last week gave management group a collective bollocking for disposing of 25 out of 26 copies of the 1998 "New Library: New Network" report that were hiding one of the projectors we didn't know we had.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
I reply and get on with my work.
"What are you doing about improving visitor counts?" he asks.
"You said December."
"Oh good. That'll be all right then,"
Thursday, January 04, 2007
"This is a bit sensitive really. You wouldn't know this but Norman's just returned back to work after having a nervous breakdown of his own."
* Ordinarily I'd observe Norman's anonymity but he wears his stress badge with pride: "It's my T.Aldous Huxtable Campaign Medal," he declares.
"I'll be in late tomorrow morning," I tell the Acq team, "I've got my next counselling session."
"Hope it goes well," says Noreen.
"I'll probably get sectioned," I reply, happily.
"Could we all get sectioned?" pipes up Betty. "It might be nice having some time in the madhouse."
"Too late, we're already here," replies Noreen, sadly.
Chatting to a colleague I mention this exchange. She laughs:
"Did I tell you what happened last week?"
"T.Aldous asked me how my counselling sessions were going and I told him that things must be bad because last time the psychologist burst into tears part way through."
"What did he say to that?"
"He went white and I haven't seen or heard from him since."
Damn. I wish I'd thought of that!
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
- Using graphics files that we've been using on our web site (particularly on the children's pages dot dot dot). Except that we're not allowed graphics on the new council web site.
- So I put them in a blog. But we aren't allowed access to blogs on the corporate network (yet can create blogs... go figure) and so can't get the addresses of the graphics.
- So I created a Yahoo group and uploaded the files there, but that doesn't work because the graphics are only visible on the PC I used for the process.
So I have to find another home for them at nil cost without appearing on the radar of any of the corporate prodnoses who want to dictate what services the Library Service does or doesn't provide to the poor bloody public but who have no intention of accepting any degree of responsibility for their activities whatsoever."Power without responsibility... the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages." Amen, Stanley, amen.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
"Someone mentioned that Helminthdale had had one of the first Transforming Libraries inspections and it was suggested that T.Aldous could do a presentation on the experience and how it's being implemented."
"That's a good idea," I say with my best poker face on.
"I told them not to be so bloody silly," says my colleague.