Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Well, here's wishing you all a Happy New Year.
Let's hope it's a better one than 2008, but judging by 2007 and 2006 and 2005 I think it's going to be business as bloody usual.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
"Let's not get too cocky," says Bronwyn. "There'll be another one coming along right behind."
How true those words are, even today.
Monday, December 29, 2008
No form of entertainment, no matter how sordid or debased it may be shall ever take the place of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Income Tax
I ask Bronwyn the same question. She lets out a deep sigh. "We'll get there and we'll do it because we always do."
I ask Frog and he says: "Like always, we don't know what the fuck we're supposed to be doing and nobody seems to much care. We'll make it up as we go along as per usual and they'll say it was a great success because enough kids turned up and nobody was actually sick on the carpet. And this time next month it will all have been forgotten about."
Unfortunately, they're dead right. They'll deliver a fun event despite not knowing what it's for or what the Library Service wants to get out of it and Policy Team will think it was a splendid thing for all the time that they care to think of it. What a waste of resources and opportunity.
"A VIP switch. T.Aldous says that's why the publicity for Catty Library is wrong."
"It's a bit like the rhythm method but you have to ask for an extension because you weren't ready at the right time."
"Did you know that the "Welcome to Catty Library" leaflets didn't have the new 'phone number on them."
"Do you know if we're going to do anything about getting them updated or reprinted?"
"Er... no. Have you asked T.Aldous or Julia?"
"Julia blanked me and T.Aldous said that we needed to have a look at it some time."
"That'll be right."
"It's uncanny. I asked Milton the same questions and gave me word for word the same answers."
Can't think why.
"This facility will be moving around the Town Hall, so keep your eye out for it!"
No schoolboy smut from this source!
This hasn't impressed the troops. The Christmas message was that the Council thinks we're worthless. The New Year message is that the Council thinks we're syphilitic and worthless.
God knows what the Easter message will be.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Where the shelving butts on a leaking wall
Most people look for another library
Ill luck besets them to hear the call...
Somewhere in the library
In the stone age.
Library... cast a sigh.
Where you can't act your own age
And careers come to die.
Pile 'em up, pile 'em high
Like some card Tower of Babel
Climbing up to the sky.
Your own locker space;
Your own locker key;
Your own half-chewed biro;
A cold cup of tea.
Crises crafted with skill.
With your confidence damaged
You just wait for the kill.
You may see the right book.
You may see the right book
Although it's been misshelved.
And sadly you know,
You know even then,
That you may never
Find it if you try again.
Somewhere in the library
There will be a stranger.
There will be a stranger
Just as perplexed as you.
They'll struggle and curse
And yet what is worse
They will have worked there since June '82.
A hundred and one pounds of fun
That's our new acquisition
Come and have a look
At a reference book
Speaking of these directories
Set in six point jargonese
Squint at it mint
While it's still out in print
Happy talking talking library talk,
Talk about things you'll never do.
You got to have a dream.
If you don't have a dream,
How'll they ever have a dream to screw?
Talk about the stock
Chosen for the shelves.
Popular and useful, naturally.
Talk about the staff
Valued for their skill
Trained, empow'red, and with authority!
Happy talking talking library talk,
Talk about things they're going to rush.
You got to have a dream.
If you don't have a dream,
How'll they ever have a dream to crush?
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Hear the bookshelves groan.
If you want to stock-edit then you're on
Have yourself a merry little library
Watch career hopes fade.
See them ruthlessly deskill you down to what
I hear that there's libraries
Where the book stock's bright and new
And staff do well.
Such cruel tales they tell
To the likes of me
Have yourself a merry little library.
Watch the gutters rot.
Some day next year they will be replaced
So lend a hand in the land that Santa Claus
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
"There are network points in the wall. Do they work?" she asks me.
"They might do. The best way to test is to plug a laptop in and see if it logs on. I'm busy at the moment [Julia and T.Aldous have seperately and severally told me the date for Carbootsale's closing for rebuilding]. If I can get time this afternoon I'll check it out. If not, it'll be the New Year."
When last seen, she was going to mither Milton about the possibility of his buying a new PC for Bronwyn. A redundant exercise: Lupin's planning on replacing her old one in the very near future as part of the IT renewal process.
- Carols from the choir of St. Barrabas, Helminthdale
- A demonstration of corn dolly-making
- A poetry reading
- A juggler
- Mince pies will be provided
"I'm too busy worrying about the mince pies: Mary says she's going to be buying them so I expect we'll be having the usual panic first thing on the day."The voice of grim experience.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
"Oh shit, I'm really sorry about that."
"That's OK. I just said that you were dead right and asked him what he was going do about making a better job of it with Carbootsale."
"He'll hold that against you."
"I hope so. It might provoke him into doing it properly next time."
"Is it true that Catty Library's been put onto the switchboard?"
"Do you know their extension number?"
"I don't. I was hoping to find out from you."
"We only found out because a member of the public rang us to ask to be put through."
Between us we eventually discovered their new internal 'phone number. Which was three-quarters of an hour well spent.
We then moved onto the next vexed question: what is the public telephone number? (Ordinarily we'd get it off the publicity or the web site but seeing as Maudie's responsible for getting the publicity to the printers and I'm responsible for editing the web site we're on a hiding to nothing there.) T.Aldous' walking past at this point gives me an opportunity for enquiry.
"What's the new public telephone number for Catty Library?"
"It's the same one as the old one."
"No it isn't."
"Yes it is. I arranged it."
"If you ring that number you get a message telling you that line is no longer in use."
"No you don't."
So I dialled the number, gave him the handset and proved my point.
"It should move seamlessly to the new 'phone number."
"We wouldn't have this problem if the VoIP switch had been delivered on time."
"The new 'phone number...?"
"We ordered that VoIP switch weeks ago. We've been badly let down by IT."
"I know the backstory, T.Aldous. What is the public telephone number for Catty Library?"
"Well, it would have been sorted by now if it had been installed on time."
"I am a member of the public. I don't care about the backstory about the VoIP switch. I want to ring Catty Library. I want to talk to somebody there about something. What number do I ring?"
"It should be the old number."
"Well it isn't, the library's been open two days and I'm a member of the public trying to contact them by telephone. I dial what number?"
"I really don't like your attitude. I'll get Julia to send out an email to all staff with it on."
Which she could have done weeks ago. When we put together the publicity that never happened either.
T.Aldous, ever ready to score a point against the Director of Education (whom God preserve) has decreed that Tuesday is a public celebration of the National Year of Reading, to be held in Helminthdale Central Library. And so it has hung for the three weeks since he had the idea. Nobody knows what is to be happening that day but it will be A Great Thing. If it goes true to form, some time in the next day and a half somebody will be landed the job of organising the spectacular with a budget of buttons.
Monday, December 22, 2008
"I see Catty Library's closed."
"Oh no, it's re-opened today."
"That's as maybe. There's two librarians stood on the doorstep telling people that it's closed."
So Verity rang Catty Library and was told that yes, it had been closed because one of the windows had fallen out and they're getting Health & Safety in to come and check the putty.
Verity fed the intell into the jungle telegraph and I've sent a system message telling staff what little we know, which is enhanced by a customer's popping into Gypsy Lane Library and giving Pansy a verbatim report of the notice on the front door. Nobody from Catty Library has bothered letting anybody else know that they'd all gone home.
Given the height of the machine and the length of the arc, he is clearly a man without prostate issues
"But you updated the information the other week, I saw it."
"Yes, but that was weeks after these articles and I had to make it all up myself."
"Well, you did it so what's the problem?"
"The problem is that library service managers should be taking more of an interest in making sure that we get information about our libraries and services onto the council's web site."
"But that's what you're for."
"Err... No. If I'm given the infomation I'll do my level best to get it online in a timely fashion but if I don't know I can't do."
"Well, you did it."
"Aye, no thanks to you or Julia. Yet you managed to get let the Catty Examiner know what's going on."
"That's down to the council's press office. They did that."
"And where did they get the information from...?"
"Well, of course we worked with the press office. Why wouldn't we?"
"Of course you should. But shouldn't you also be working with your own staff too?"
"That would be down to the press office."
"No. No, no, no, no no. Letting your customers know about your services being delivered in your libraries is your responsibility, not that of the press office."
"No. Your responsibility."
At which point he stalked away and threw some crockery about the staff room.
Daisy Duck's planning her revenge on her mate the landlord at The Spotted Mule, which is just across the road from the library. At half two there was a knock on the library door. Daisy opened it to be faced with two policemen.
"We've had a complaint from the pub across the road. They say you're making too much noise."
It must have made their year. Daisy can see the funny side but is a bit worried:
"I don't think T.Aldous has ever been raided before."
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Once that's done there's only the Helminthdale pot-luck lunch and we're home and dry and A over T into the bosom of our families for the seasonal hostilities.
Imagine my delight, then, to find lying about by the fax machine copies of two articles about the new, improved library that were published - with pictures - in November. They can get the Catty Examiner in for a preview but they can't be arsed to pass any information on to their own bloody staff.
Single team working? My arse.
Friday, December 19, 2008
"The 'phone should be going in tomorrow, so it'll probably be Monday afternoon," says Milton.
"I'll have to update the web site over the weekend. What's the new 'phone number?"
"I don't know. I asked Julia but didn't really get a useful answer."
Despite his suggestion that I don't do it, I have a go at this myself. Julia's not available so I ask T.Aldous.
"What's Catty Library's new 'phone number? Nobody seems to know."
"Everybody knows it: it's pinned up on the staff noticeboard at Catty. Given them a ring and find out."
The one and only time we see a co-ordinated management effort to communicate a goal to the other ranks and see them support and resource the work to the successful attainment of said goal it's to hoodwink a fire inspector.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
"We're doing well, there's only as many as there were last week."
The plan is that when the fire inspector comes a-prowling these boxes will all be put into the dispatch room, which is where they ought to be in the first place. We still don't know where the crap that's been filling the dispatch room this past decade is going.
Another plan is for Bronwyn to move her desk into the corner of the Acq. Team's area, where all the boxes of Booked If I Know picture books are piled up, awaiting shipping out to very receptive main libraries. Naïvely, I ask where the Booked If I Know boxes are going ('cos they won't be going out to the main libraries any time soon). Apparently they, too, are to go into the dispatch room. I can only think that we're going to knock the ceiling out.
"Wouldn't it be easier to buy a cow?"
I ask. Which prompts the inevitable discussion in the staff room.
"I should think we've got more than enough cows as it is."
"If we bought a cow we could call it T.Aldous."
"We could say that it was a tribute."
Monday, December 15, 2008
"Hist! Are they the singing sands of the Asian desert, intent on luring us to lonely, unmarked graves?"
"They're announcing the arrival of the next train."
"Are you telling me that's not a disembodied voice designed by devils to mislead the unwary traveller such that their loved ones may never see them again?"
I had to concede the point.
Like most local government employees lately, we got to comparing notes on Pay & Grading.
Note for the unwary (English public sector workers may want to skip this bit)
A decade and a bit ago it was pointed out that "women's" jobs were paid less than "men's" jobs in English local government, regardless of the relative importance of the jobs and/or requirements on qualification, training, etc. So the government told local autorities that they had to review their staff's pay with a view to providing equal pay for equal value by 2007. Not many local authorities met the deadline. Many faffed about. Most took it as an opportunity to save a bit on the staffing budgets by equalising down. Many took the opportunity of cutting the salaries of specialist staff on the basis that there's less of them and it's harder for them to find examples of jobs of equal worth to compare themselves with. This is a bowdlerised account but you get the gist.
I asked Ken how he got on.
"They've cut my salary by £3,000. How about you?"
"Twelve percent cut."
"Of course, you know it's a job creation scheme for Personnel departments, don't you?"
"Eh? How do you work that out?"
"If a large number of disaffected staff worrying themselves sick about how they'll be paying the bills isn't a problem requiring a Human Resources solution, I don't know what is."
In a sane and just world he'd have a statue.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
"In this country we say please and thank you!"
Salome challenged her:
"That was a bit uncalled for."
"I don't care. If they're in this country they should learn to do like we do."
Strangely enough, "please" and "thank you" don't feature highly in the local vernacular.
Friday, December 12, 2008
The reason? Staff were complaining about having to keep bending down to get the books from under the counter. Given that there's about three acres of space behind the counter it wouldn't be beyond the wit of library managers to put some shelving or trolleys in there for the reserved stock. Except that Doreen says they can't do it because "someone might take the trolleys out and shelve the books."
The protest takes a bizarre turn when Norma turns up at the reading group's Christmas party and tries to claim the time back. Doreen's having none of it, though ends up having to concede half an hour because Norma covered the library while Kitty went out for a bottle of milk.
"Lola hadn't arrived yet so I had to cover," she says.
The truth is that she told Kitty not to wait for Lola, she'd mind the shop.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
- and shifting stock out of Umpty Library because they say they've got too much new children's stock and don't have time for visits for school classes
- and libraries' closed dates not being disclosed to the systems guy or to the passing public
- and Policy Team not having yet another scheduled meeting
- and another unannounced staff meeting with T.Aldous complaining that people didn't turn up for it
- and the network being down
- and the public PCs dying one by one in random pattern with their hard disks blown to buggery
- and the reference librarians' entering the fourth glorious year of reviewing the standing orders lists but actually not bothering
- and the expensive reference stock we're buying for Catty Library which won't have a reference section when it re-opens
- and Policy Team members boasting that they can't possibly provide information about what's going on in our libraries because their staff don't tell them
- and the plans - ha ha! - for closing Carbootsale for rebuilding work once Catty Library re-opens
Oh, I'm bored just listing the possibilities, you'd never stand for me blathering on about them.
"One of your engineers came over in September, cut off the gas and took a final reading..."
"...It's been closed since January. It's closed and unoccupied..."
"...No, it's unoccupied. And it never will be occupied again: it's been closed for demolition, they're going to build a motorway over it..."
"...There's no point in you sending us an estimated bill, the reading's going to be the same as the final one your engineer took..."
"...Isn't your engineer's actual final reading better than a customer reading?"
"...The library's nine miles away and there's nobody in there. We can't send somebody over once a month to take a reading. Besides, what's the point? The gas has been cut off and your engineer took the final reading..."
The eventual compromise is that once a quarter for the next hundred years, Maisie will be sending the gas board an email saying:
The building that was Roadkill Library, Windicote Lane, closed for demolition January 2008. Reading 103772
Monday, December 08, 2008
T.Aldous is in a flap because we've done precisely nothing in response to the last fire inspection report (I wouldn't want you to think that we've just the one standard response to any inspection reports, even though it's true).
The Acq. Team have been working through the influenza like Trojans and have got the backlog down to just twenty boxes in the fire escape corridor. The official line now is that these boxes will be moved to the dispatch room, where they should have been in the first place. Quite what's happening with all the crap that's been stuffed in the dispatch room for the past decade and a half is beyond our collective imagination.
Unless T.Aldous is building a tunnel, too.
"Shouldn't you be with the rest of Policy Team? I thought you all had a meeting in the Town Hall today."
"We did. T.Aldous has cancelled it because he couldn't find the email about it because his PC 'isn't working' again."
The meeting was supposed to be about "Making Things Happen."
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
"How's your authority's much-vaunted change programme going on?"
"Oh, we've done change. It's back to Business As Usual With Fucking Big Boots On now. No priorities, aimless meandering management chucking their weight about when it suits and disappearing like the morning mists whenever accountability comes a-knocking and the project management expertise of the kindergarten sand-table."
"As good as that?"
"I'm instinctively optimistic."
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
"Why didn't they put a 'phone line in at Catty the same time as they put in the fax?"
"Because T.Aldous has decided that it's going onto the council switchboard."
"I thought we were putting it onto the switchboard at the end of next year as part of the council's VoIP roll-out."
"A couple of weeks ago T.Aldous was talking to somebody in the Town Hall lift who said that it should be possible to put a VoIP line into Catty to put it onto the switchboard. So that's what we're doing."
"So that it won't cost anything for T.Aldous and Julia to ring Catty Library."
"Have we sorted out the publicity for the new 'phone number?"
"I'll need to know the number so's I can make the changes in the web site."
"Good luck to you."
"We don't know the number?"
"Not yet we don't."
"So what's the plan?"
"I've told them that if they're going to change the arrangements at this late stage of the game they can sort out the consequences themselves."
Sounds like our way of doing things... If you don't like the answer you get, keep asking people until somebody gives you the answer you want, however much it screws up your project.
T.Aldous has been wandering round the building complaining that it took him 45 minutes to get into work this morning. We are collectively aghast: it usually takes him the best part of an hour to do the ten-minute journey down the Pardendale Road.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
"So we finally have an opening date for them, then?"
"Er... no. We're waiting for the 'phones to be sorted."
"They've not put the 'phone line in at the same time as the fax?"
"Let's not go there. If you get me started on this one we'll be here all day."
"Aren't we just restoring the existing 'phone line?"
"Let's talk about something else. How's the web site getting on?"
"I need to use your toilet," he says.
He then rummaged around in the back of his trousers and proceded to show Seth why he needed to use the toilet.
Note for customer care advocates: there's no excuse for this, the library's in a shopping centre which has been open since quarter to nine and has two lots of public conveniences.
Monday, December 01, 2008
"Is Bronwyn around?"
"She's off sick today. Can anybody else help?"
"I've got somebody on the 'phone asking about a talk by Fred Dibnah."
"Stuff me, I thought we only used the Ouija board for talking to Policy Team. If we start using it in public events we'll be picketed by the witch-burners."
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
"You'd be no good as an Amazon," says Sibyl, who has a classical education. "They had to have one of their breasts lopped off so that they'd be better able to draw a bow and arrow. You wouldn't want that: you'd be walking round with a list."
"It didn't do Wonder Woman any harm," I point out.
"It's the star-spangled knickers," says Sibyl.
"You don't have the star-spangled knickers as well do you Maybelle?"
"You'd only get distracted," she replies. Which is true.
continues Maybelle, spotting when she's on a roll.
I was whingeing about this when Maybelle suddenly perks up:
"Oooh! I'll have twenty pounds coins off you! It'll save me having to queue at the bank again this week."
It turns out that since the council upped the parking rates as part of its encouraging-green-living-and-nothing-to-do-with-the-budget-deficit programme, the weekly parking permits cost £20. But the council's ticket machines don't take notes.
"So you lug around a purse full of twenty-odd pound coins?" I ask.
"It's no problem for me. I am an Amazon."
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
To cap it all: Frog and Bronwyn have started singing Cowboy Campfire Carols around the photocopier.
Monday, November 24, 2008
"I can't see why it takes him so long to go round the nursing homes in Umpty."
Says the man who does the ten minute run down Pardendale Road in never less than forty minutes.
"Yeugh! Fancy making love in a lift!"
"Have you never done it?"
I think I would, given the right opportunity. I have fond memories of adolescent fumblings in the reserve stacks of a research library.
There's an air of outrage in the Reference Library. You'd think they'd be glad that somebody's come up with a use for the library that doesn't involve them having to go to the enquiry desk to ask for service.
Friday, November 21, 2008
The Assistant Librarians generally have their own Christmas do, but they've not been much in evidence lately and haven't gotten on well in the process. So they've not organised one.
Lola's back from maternity leave and mentions this to Bronwyn. Bronwyn, being of practical mind, suggests that she joins Frog and the Acq. Team in their do. The problem is that nobody knows when it is. Lola comes and asks me:
"When's this Christmas lunch?"
"I can't remember off the top of my head."
"Why wasn't I invited in the first place?"
"You weren't around to ask."
"I'll bet it's not going to be on a day when I'm at work."
"You're not coming over to me late on a Friday afternoon to pick a fight about a Christmas dinner. Now fuck off and go and have a fight with somebody else."
Ho bloody ho.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"Can you do me a favour? Could you put a collection envelope on the table for Cosmo? I've been busy with a pile of other things lately and it's only just occurred to me that nobody will have organised a collection."
"Surely his line manager would have organised that already?"
My, how we laughed.
"Why does it need to be at Sheep City?"
"When Mary and I talked it through it was obvious that upstairs here wasn't an option."
"Couldn't any other library do?"
"We had that workshop for playgroups at Tench Road last May and the turnout for that was really disappointing."
"That is on the further reaches of the Borough, though, isn't it?"
"Why not have it at Noddy?" asks Maybelle. "It's attached to the community centre so we can have sessions after library hours; it's got a bus stop just outside on the main road; and a huge car park."
"We've tried having late night events in the branches but... I'm turning into Mary, aren't I? Sorry. I'll check it out and see if that's a possible."
This comes as a relief: I'd made a note to have a chat with him about this point after the meeting. I hope that if I ever go that way he'd do similar.
Monday, November 17, 2008
"Courage, mon brave," I tell him, "one volunteer is worth ten pressed men."
Sybil and Lippy overhear this and are up in arms.
"If we're pressing men, why aren't we getting a go?"
"Hang on a minute, I'll come with you. I just need to make myself a pot of tea."
Half an hour later they're still kicking their heels.
This has gone down badly with Mary, who's In Charge of the shifting round. But, typically of this place, instead of saying anything to Frog she says something to Bronwyn. And later on something to Noreen. And later on to Maudie...
I think these whispering condemnations are hilarious. When they're indirected my way I crack on daft and pretend I don't know that anything's been being said. By the purest coincidence I may innocently intensify the offence or accidentally remind the offended that they are aggrieved. Frog, on the other hand gets quite wound up. The practical effect is the same: he's determined that instead of letting the joke get stale and walk away after a week or two he's forever going to refer to this room at Kiddie Korner.
Word is, Mary's determined that this is going to be Meeting Room One. Which is odd as there's already two meeting rooms in the building.
"How's things?" I ask Noreen when she's on her own and it's quiet.
"Oh, the usual. It'll be alright, it's under control. As far as anything ever is under control round here. The one thing that's really making my life a real misery at the moment is that thing."
She motioned over to the cupboard in the corner.
"That's the cassette player they use for rewinding talking books. I don't know why they have to put it in our area, just because that's where the electricity points are."
When somebody is so determined to make such a mountain from such a molehill the safest thing to do is to sigh and walk away quietly.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
I asked Julia if we shouldn't be buying stock for Catty Library now it looks like being open before Christmas. She said that we have been doing for some time now. Do you think we should be improving our communications mechanisms somewhat?
I little knew how bad things were. I've just started working my way through some of the boxes that have been sitting in a corner here for the past fifteen months. According to the library catalogue they're all on the shelves...
"Ooh, it's a lot of money..."
She'd prefer getting someone cheap and local. Which make me wonder just what she'd do with the remainder of the launch money. (The question's rhetorical.I know the answer is 'nothing.')
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
- Over there's a trolley full of books. It's the same trolley full of the same books that's been lurking round the place since April. It's stock from the old Roadkill Library site to be transferred to other libraries. It's all newish paperback fiction that wouldn't fit on the shelves when they moved house and a pile of non-fiction that they didn't fancy (they're coffee table books about living in the Victorian age, the Tudors, Ancient Egypt, tropical rainforests, global warming, walks around the Lake Distrct, real obscure-niche material that there would be no demand for in a public library). This stock was sent here to be dealt with because Daisy, who's responsible for Roadkill, said she didn't have time to deal with them. Seeing as there wasn't anybody here at the time to deal with them (literally: Salome was the only remaining full-time Assitant Librarian but was on leave and Lola was on maternity leave) the stuff stayed in boxes. Eventually, Seth kicked off about the number of boxes lying about and Andi was given the job of sorting a dozen of them out. She did this by putting a couple of boxes' worth onto trolleys which she'd leave lurking about the building "being worked on" for weeks or months on end. This is the last of those trolleys (Lola and Bronwyn got shut of the others).
- Another strategy for dealing with the boxes is to put somebody else's name on them. Lola's come back from maternity leave to find seven boxes of stock for transfer jammed under her desk. Each is labelled:
Dutch Bend Helminthdale Salome Andi Posy Andi Posy Andi SalomeLola.
I've lost patience with the bloody trolley. I've just done the lot and it took me fifty minutes.
"Just out of morbid curiosity... what's the current delay in reopening the library?"
"The tables aren't high enough."
"Tell me no more, I'm frightened to learn it."
"Do you know where the computers are going?" he asks me.
"Roughly. Generally speaking, we're putting them where the people at Catty told Milton they had to go."
"That's good. I was tripping over the things and when I asked them where they were going they said they didn't know."
This doesn't bode well for the way the place is going to work when it's open.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
"Who's got the world's biggest whiteboard now?"
he crows. I can only gape.
"Isn't it brilliant? I'm astonished I've got away with it."
"They asked me if I wanted anything. I said I'd like a whiteboard please. They said to measure it up and get it ordered. And so... Well, here it is."
"What are you going to do with it now you've got it?"
"I shall draw pictures of Susannah York running barefoot through dewy meadows."
"They'll not be pleased with you for doing that."
"Don't see why not. It would be one of the more constructive things going on round here at the moment."
It's all I can do to hide my envy.
Monday, November 10, 2008
"If anyone asks, I'm just getting changed and putting on some perfume," she tells me.
I thought she was kidding right up to the point when she walked past me on her way out. Well, at least there'll be no naked flames.
Friday, November 07, 2008
"Run for the hills!"
he tells me and Mary
"T.Aldous is working on a document and I just heard him tell Maudie that he doesn't know how to cut and paste!"
So this is, of course, a problem.
Milton has been asked the killer questions:
"It isn't fair: why do they get to be in the group? How do we make sure that other people get their turn?"
"It isn't fair: why should the people who want to volunteer to be champions for change be allowed to be champions for change?" Childish nonsense. What the hell is the point of conscripting somebody to be an advocate for something? "It isn't fair!" Poppycock.
Milton is trying to frame a suitable response to the question. Mine would be two words.
Imagine the consternation when it is discovered that the tin that had been labelled for this collection has been re-labelled by T.Aldous for the collection for to pay for the wine and nutes he bought the convalescent Warner. We now debate whether or not to carbon-date the fingerprints on the coins to determine which collection they were for.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
"It is OK for me to sit here and do my coursework isn't it?"
"Ooh, I don't know. I'll have to check."
"Sorry, they say you've got to go upstairs to the reference library."
I'm sure I read something about Policy Team writing a Customer Welcome Strategy recently...
T.Aldous bumped into a couple struggling to get a pram and two babies up the stairs to the library because they wanted to use a computer to check their emails. He guided them to the lift, made sure it was going up to the reference library and told them to ask for a computer at the enquiry desk.
A few minutes later, he was passing the lift and the family was coming out. He was, naturally, a bit surprised and asked if all the computers were busy.
No. They'd been told that they "needed to go downstairs to join the library" before they could use a computer.
To his immense credit, T.Aldous took them back up to the library, got them onto a PC and gave them a membership form, a new user pack and a lot of spin about the services in our libraries.
I can't help thinking that a hard core of our staff wouldn't be happy unless customers weren't allowed on the computers or borrow books at all, just so that they could make sure that we could guarantee to be able to meet demand should it arise (but obviously not guarantee to actually meet it).
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Warner's emailed T.Aldous asking him to pass on his thanks to all concerned. Which is really nice.
The gilt is scraped off the gingerbread quite considerably by T.Aldous' hand-written coda:
"Policy Team bought Warner some wine and nuts as a present for when we went round to visit the other day. We didn't have time to put out a tin for staff donations but if you would like to contribute something towards the £14.97 cost of the gift please put it in the tin provided."
"The poor devils must be on their uppers," mutters Sybil.
"I've had a telephone call from the Catty Examiner. How many items do we have in stock here?"
"I'll just check the figures... here we go it's... hello? Is anyone there? Hello? Hello? Is there anybody there? ..."
I can hear the noises off of Julia wandering round the library messing round with shelves and telling people which boxes to unpack.
I shouted the number.
(eventually) "I can't hear you, what did you say?"
On balance I decided to just repeat the number.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
"Has Mary asked you about this year's CIPFA figures?"
"Last April, when I did them, yes, why?"
"The Audit Commission's got the numbers from CIPFA and sent them back to us for us to confirm that the numbers are correct before they become set in aspic. I passed on the library figures to Mary and asked her to check that they were OK. She was supposed to be getting back to me but she hasn't yet and I'm getting nervous 'cos tomorrow's the deadline for any queries or appeals."
"Not a sausage."
"If I send you a copy can you have a look?"
"I'll try my best."
So he has and I've had a look and I can't see where some of the numbers are coming from: they're certainly not the numbers I passed on to Jim and Mary in April. Unfortunately, I don't know what numbers were sent to CIPFA in the end as those files aren't in the folders accessible to us other ranks.
I mention the conversation to Mary.
"Oh... I've not had an email about that, I'm sure. I'll log on and check and see if it's come through."
I expect it's in her unread emails folder. All I can do is wash my hands of the affair and wait for the tortuous progress of the auditors next spring.
Monday, November 03, 2008
"Can anybody, even Helminthdale, match a telephone bill 823 pages long? We have just received one. It's for our computerised energy line. A fault on the heating system triggers off a 'phone message to the computer centre who should then deal with the fault. Unfortunately, a second fault at the computer centre means their computer is unaware of the message. So for three long months our heating system has sent a 20 second call to the computer every 10 minutes and for three long months it has been ignored. Unfortunately, no-one can yet trace the cause and so our bill is already mounting. Will it top 823 pages? See next months thrilling installment!
"P.S. We have our phone bills in triplicate for administrative purposes!"
- Welcome the customer. Explain that the library's not open yet but we're well on the way to getting ready and we hope that he'll find it's been worth the wait. It's going to look good when we've got all the stock on the shelves and done the last of the tidying up. And we're a bit fed up because we wanted to be open well before now but we hit a problem with the floor, which has been resolved and doesn't it look a treat now? remember that awful triple-edged camber? and we're waiting for the builders to sort out the roofing problem over there in the corner where we've been planning to put all the computers. Still, we're getting there and it does look pretty good, doesn't it? And don't forget, Carbootsale Library's just down the road and they're open six days a week while Catty Library's closed. We look forward to seeing you when we're officially open!
- Sorry, we're closed. Could you close the door on your way out. Thanks.
Guess which approach was chosen.
Unfortunately for Frog, he's the one who's picked up the message and relayed it to Julia. Who tells him to ring personnel for the 'phone numbers of any staff who may not be working today so that he can ring round for cover.
Mary rescued him in the end: Lippy's going to work extra hours and do the necessary.
I'd completely forgotten about this. And that one of the beasts was sitting on top of my in-tray. Imagine my surprise when a voice by my ear says:
"This is Funf speaking..."
It turns out that we share a frequency with the security guards in one of the big shops in the shopping centre. They think it's hilarious, which is probably why every so often you'll hear a voice from some distant part of the room saying:
"Luke, I am your father."
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Elsewhere in the world, including Helminthdale Council, of which we are part, job-sharing is two or more people doing the one and the same job. One job, two or more people. I won't labour this further. In the Library Service, job-sharing is a bit more complicated than this.
For instance, Katie and Lola are both job-shares. But they each have a non-existant job-share partner because those halves of the posts have been allowed to wither unfilled on the vine. So, in effect, they are each doing a full-time job in half a week.
On the other hand, Daisy Dormouse and Wendy Muffplaster job-share the same post. Except that Daisy is responsible for Roadkill Library and Wendy is responsible for Noddy Library. In Daisy's half of the week Noddy is left to fend. And in Wendy's half of the week, Roadkill is left to fend.
And at Catty, Posy and Andi job-share the same post. Except that Posy is responsible for adult lending and Andi is responsible for children's.
So it's all dead easy really.
"I was walking down the road about a month ago when I noticed that an attractive young girl had stopped and was smiling at me.
"'Hello,' she said, 'you're Frog aren't you?'
"I was dead chuffed that she was interested enough to find out my name. Then came the killer blow:
"'I used to go to the story times you used to do at Senebene Library.'"
Friday, October 31, 2008
We got to talking about the insularity of the natives and the problems you can have socially in a new job because most of the people you know are either above or below you in the line management chain. This gave me the opportunity to try and find out where I should know her from.
"What job are you doing now then?"
"I'm working in the riding stables up at Spadespit."
So I didn't know her after all. Still, we kept talking and the conversation raised all sorts of interesting and charming coincidences. A middle-aged man's fantasy come to life.
"Shall I give you my 'phone number?" she asked.
"If you like."
"We'll just have to go over to my car. It's parked just over by Kitty's."
Kitty's is an interesting establishment just across the road from the STD clinic. What we used to call a knocking-shop.
"I'll walk you over to your car, but I've got a bus to catch, unfortunately."
"That's a shame. How about a kiss just to say goodnight?"
"I think that would be a bit forward of me."
"You really should let your hair down a bit."
"I know, I'm hopeless."
We parted amicably. There's no objective reason for me to think she wasn't just a lonely soul stranded in Helminthdale and there's no reason for me to be embarassing or insulting.
"Are you the only first-aider in the building?"
"Do you think that's enough?"
"Ah," interposes T.Aldous, "Sybil's going to be the other first-aider but she's on leave when the course is being run."
Later on, Frog asks Sybil the obvious question:
"Have you been on leave for the past four years?"
It's difficult to know who's the worse: the inspectors or T.Aldous. The rot starts early: we've not had one of these inspections for twenty years so, just like the buses, four insectors turn up all at once. Their first question sets the tone:
"Can we see the recommendations of the last health & safety inspection?"
"You've not done one before."
Seth had to make an excuse and leave when he heard this exchange:
"You seem to have a lot of clutter around this workplace. We're particularly concerned about the number of boxes that are piled around the building, especially in the fire escape corridor."
"Yes, it isn't ideal. Unfortunately we're having a big move-around within the building and we're having to pile boxes up as best we can out of the way while we get on with it."