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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ideally-placed for kissing goodbye

"What time are you leaving?" T.Aldous asks Maisie. "I've got an urgent order that needs doing."

Maisie says something non-commital and sighes. Once himself has disappeared she confides:

"He's been doing that bloody urgent order all last week and had me hanging round at the end of every bloody day."

Well, those desks won't order themselves. At five to five Maisie comes bounding over.

"T.Aldous has asked me to check with you: there's no corporate IT support after five o'clock is there?"

"No, there's not."

"Good. The e-procurement system's down and I can't send any orders. Looks like I'll just have to go home. What a pity."

Not so bad

Only thirty boxes of kids' books incoming today, a welcome respite for Betty and Noreen. Nearly all are the fag-ends of part-orders that were delivered the other week (a pain in the arse: receiving items on an order in dribs and drabs creates at least two-and-a-half time as much work as receiving it all in one batch. If it's an order for 1,457 books that's delivered as eight batches spread over three weeks it isn't funny.) More good news is that one of the books is the other half of a problem pair caused when the electricity supply dipped in the middle of an invoice: one item's on order but apparently received and the other's received but apparently on order. For reasons which escape us all on analysis, the receipt of this book automatically sorts out the problem. Systems guy decides to thank Providence and let sleeping dogs lie.

Another highlight is the copy of "Curious George Goes Quantity Surveying" which has English text but a Greek cover. Somewhere, one hopes, there's a copy of the Greek version that has an English cover, otherwise it could all get horribly complicated.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Autumnal splendour

Catty Library may be closed for repairs but that doesn't mean we're spared in-library water features in this splendid English summer weather. The water chute in the children's library at Senebene is no more than one would suspect, ditto the bucket of water feature at Spadespit. We feel entitled to be a bit pissed off that the new library at Roadkill didn't manage to get through its first six months without a leak. Especially as it didn't leak once in the two years it lay empty waiting for us to move in.


Quarter past eight there's a knock on the front door. The gentleman introduces himself to Noreen: "I've come for the meeting and demonstration."

What meeting and demonstration? No idea. We have numerous whiteboards, some huge and empty; calendars, diaries and post-it notes and no end of communication tools but nothing avails. The gentleman is not happy: he's travelled three hundred miles for a meeting at half-eight. A combination of coffee and professional interrogation techniques gives Noreen enough clues to surmise that he's come to see Mary about a new model Mobile Library. Conferring with Milton, who also has no idea of any meeting, they decide to install the gentleman in Milton's old office and help him sort out space for him to display his wares.

Mary, of course, arrives at twenty-five to nine and installs herself in her office with a cup of tea.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Somebody who failed Meccano

Maybelle has just finished constructing a panel display for the stand at the "Healthy Helminthdale" event at the Town Hall tomorrow.

"That pole's the wrong colour," says T.Aldous.

We all needed a magic torch

So that's why Seth's been looking so smug today... The Fire Inspector's been in, had his say about box city and has told Seth:

"You're the Fire Warden. You've got the responsibility to keep the fire corridor clear."

"I try, but the managers keep over-riding me."

"You've got the legal authority to get that corridor cleared. They have no legal authority to stop you doing it. Think on that."

The Acq. Team are starting to see light at the end of their darkness (they reckon they're now only about a month behind with the workload, so long as less than fifty boxes arrive tomorow). Over the past few weeks Bronwyn's been quietly disposing of stuff that's been hanging round for a decade. And nobody's asking what happened to the sixteen boxes of children's books that went to Panama Street Library for an event and never came back. The omens are good for an entertaining "No, you can't pile a load of old desks in the corridor" stand-off during the summer holidays.

Lifelike, isn't it?

Henry Irving bounces into the office.

"I've just visited the inmates in your brand new Leadership Suite. Very splendid. A hub of management activity and a foment of razor-sharp decisive thinking. Wonderful. I shall visit it again."

They must have moved the shopping trolley.

Noses to the grindstone

It's always a bad idea to have a flexi-day off (especially in Flaming June with the rain up to your navel and trees horizontal in the wind). There's always bad news to come back to.

T.Aldous has decided he won't be retiring before 2011.

This grim puppet

T.Aldous motivating Jim and Milton:

"Of course, I never wanted your posts to be created when the reorganisation was proposed..."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Get a nice sheep's head from the butcher

Doreen's having a torrid time of it this afternoon. T.Aldous is obsessing on the buffet arrangements for the centenary of Milkbeck Library. She's had half an hour of it and has just returned to her office, where she needs to catch up with this week's staffing problem in lending and a load of hassle about Epiphany. Less than two minutes in, he's back on the case.

"That buffet selection seems to have a lot of meat in it. Lots of people don't like a lot of meat. We need to have a look at some of the other options."

Our visitor figures are falling, our issue figures are fragile, our stock management processes are lying on their backs waggling their legs in the air and staff are thinly-spread and utterly demoralised. But there won't be too much meat.


T.Aldous and Doreen have been over to Epiphany Library to see how the refurb's going. It turns out that it's going as we would expect: one of the wall panels under the windows has been removed for something or other, leaving a useful gap in the wall for rain to pour through.

Guess which is the only bit of the floor that's been carpet-tiled?

Tibet smells of butter

More concerns about the idea of Catty Library adjoining the health centre.

"The smell will drift into the library."

I'm sure that the health service has similar concerns.

New balls please

Conversation over the newspapers and lunchtime butties:

"That's good news."


"Maria Sharapova's going to be wearing shorts at this year's Wimbledon."

"And something over her mouth?"

"Don't be unfair. These days that's the only time I get to hear a woman grunting."

You and me both, mate.

The vehicle's in motion, the driver's got nothing to say

Salome's helping a customer fill in a driving licence application form on the DVLA web site. His English isn't good but he is friendly...

"Now, Mister ..., are you male or female?"


"OK... Are you disabled?"


"Are you blind?"


"Are you pregnant?"


"I'm sorry, there's a queue building at the enquiry desk. I'll have to leave you to finish completing the form by yourself."

Monday, June 23, 2008

They can smell fear

For reasons of my own I've been reviewing Library Service processes and project management.

Between us we've established the correct pattern of behaviour in the aftermath of the usual nonsense. I present it here for the illumination of nations.

The Helminthdale Damage Limitation Toolkit

Did we get away with it?
Can we blame somebody else?
Will anybody make a fuss?
Can we find a scapegoat in the lower ranks?

A concentrated dose of all-pigeon action

More developments on the Catty Library front. It turns out that the space at the end wall is going to be the joining point between the library and the new community health centre, which is finally coming on stream after two decades' hot air. It's OK to knock down the back wall but we can't have a wireless network connection the size of a biscuit tin up on the roof. (sigh)

This transformation from vague rumour to vague intention is mentioned to senior Catty Library staff.

"What happens when people wander into the library from the health centre?"

Friday, June 20, 2008

Somewhere in there is humour

This floor is heaving with boxes of books; old ones, new ones, loved ones, neglected ones. Quite by chance it dawns on me that we could automate the distribution of the Book Off books by exporting the dataset to a spreadsheet, randomising the list and then batch-transferring subsets of the stock to each library. After checking out the intended proportions with Frog I did the necessary and hey presto! a week's work done in ten minutes. The stock just needs to be processed and boxed up for shipping. This gives us a fighting chance of getting shut of the stuff before Xmas.

I'm relieved at having found a solution to part of the problem, right up to the point where I mention it to Noreen. Her response is underwhelming.

"It'll still be weeks before they're finally get rid of them."

By the time we finish the conversation I'm entirely deflated. The latest in a long line of disappointments. Nearly every piece of work I've done this past few weeks has been a dead waste of time. Oh, the work's done and it works OK. It's just that there's only me worrying about any of it. It would be just the same if I didn't bother.

Noreen feels similarly about her work, which is one reason why she's so down. The remorseless torrent of thousands of might-or-might-not-count-as-work books takes its additional toll.

It's all part of working in a service where delivery takes a very poor second place to attendance.

More time than is strictly necessary

Huge problem with the People's Network at Helminthdale Central. Huge, huge, huge problem. Send for the cavalry. Call for Dick Barton. Batsignals at dusk.

The clocks on the public clients are three minutes slow.

Customers booking an hour's session still get their hour. Just three minutes later than it says on the clocks in the library, all of which are finally set to British Summer Time (three years of work on Seth's part but he got them beaten into submission in the end). Consequently, "lots" of people have been hanging round the enquiry desks waiting three minutes for their session to start. Big problem. Especially as there's obviously no intention of using the three minutes to sell a selection of our services to a captive audience. Seth's made it very clear that he will not be changing the time on the clocks. Especially as the people complaining most loudly are the self-same ones who would kick off the most at the idea of closing the doors three minutes late. So the problem's come to me. I have the same system permissions as the public so I can't over-ride the clock settings.

I promised to ask IT to have a look at it.

  • I won't be asking them any time that we need them to get a move on delivering a new client model.
  • Nor when we want them to change internet permission policies.
  • Nor when we're trying to persuade them to unblock blogs and social networking sites on staff PCs.
  • Nor when we need their support for a big capital systems project.


A customer rushes to the lending enquiry desk.

"I think you need to go and have a look at what's going on in the children's library."

Maybelle went over to check it out. A lady had emptied all the picture books out of one of the kinderboxes and sat her child in there. Said child was emptying his bladder as Maybelle arrived.

"I'm potty-training him," explained the lady.

Still on the trail of the whistling mouse-nobbler

When Bronwyn cam down half an hour ago she was accompanied by a little old man who'd wandered into the lift as she set off. She sent it back up to the lending library floor. Thelma's just come down.

"There's an old man in the lift. I've just sent him up to lending."

Bronwyn decided to investigate. It turned out to be the same chap.

"Nay, lass, I'm in t'right place. I only nipped in to use the lavatory."

Priority in perspective

Mary has been hovering around Maisie's desk for the past half hour waiting for her petty cash claim for one-ninety-nine's worth of crayons bought at nine o'clock this morning for this afternoon's schools event. Frog isn't impressed:

"I wish she'd make the same fuss about finding the car allowance claim form she lost on her desk last month. It's only for ninety quid."

I have no reason to suspect a squirrel might not have done the job any better

This bloody council. They've updated the email server and decided that this would be a good point at which to get everybody to update their details in the address book. On the appointed day, when each of us logged on we were confronted with a form, filling in for the use of. The next day there was a global email telling staff that they didn't need to put their middle initial in the box marked "Middle Initial." An email you could only get by logging on and filling in the form.

The reason for the panic is now apparent. I can't find Gordon Harker in the address book, even though I knew he should be in there and works in the Town Hall. Eventually I gave in and trawled all the "G"s. There he was: Gordon B. Harker. In between Gordon Ainsworth and Gordon Clough.

These are the people giving me lectures on information management. Fuckwits.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I can even sing

A rare opportunity to give staff a bit of gen about one of our systems for a change. Okay, it's just ten minutes in a lending team briefing but it's ten minutes we've not had in the four years we've had this system. I should feel happy and grafetful for the opportunity. I know I should feel happy and grateful for the opportunity. All the time I have this little nagging voice in the back of my head:
"Well, isn't this about bloody time?"
Milton and I were talking about something quite else the other week and he admitted that he has these moments where he can but stop and ask himself: "how the hell did we get to this?" I expect he's been asking it a lot lately.

No hope without tears, at least one cut, plaster and magic smartie

More good news about Catty Library: the proposed position of the counter is the one place in the building without electricity or network points. Which is a shame as all the plastering's been done and dusted.

Knowing one's place

I bounce back into the library, full of joie de vivre and somebody else's lousy powdered milk tea. Bronwyn and Noreen are not impressed.

"Look at him. He's just jam-filled with mischief."

"I will admit that I am a Lord of Misrule."

"You don't have to be quite so gleeful about it."

"I am happy in my work."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An ideal stocking-filler

Just at the point when we're all breathing a sigh of relief because the Acq. Team have managed to get within the last twelve boxes of kids' books for badly-timed national projects another thirty of the buggers arrive.

In an effort to distract from the horror, Frog makes the girls "Happiness is a brown box" badges to wear with pride.

The pensioners' own B.A. Barracus

Frog's in lumber. All this week he and T.Aldous have been sporting home-made "Team Read" badges in preparation of the launch of this year's Summer Reading Game. Mary's back from holiday today and has kicked off because she's not got one.

Free yourself of your restrictive knickers!

Today is "Take Your Bike to Work Day." Judging by the comments in the Town Hall lift I can think of one section of the council that completely missed out on the vogue for political correctness.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

ASBO pixies

They've started having lunchtime seminars at the Town Hall. Today's was "Is Helminthdale Part of 'Shameless' Britain? Media portrayal of our town."

I've been asked why I didn't go. I don't think my views would have been welcome: I think this town's got more than its fair share of thick-headed, backward-looking noddies and dunderheads. "Back in the old days" used to be OK relative to neighbouring towns but that was before Helminthdale got into the habit of never getting more than one-third of the way into a civic improvement programme before getting cold feet and running back to square one, only to find that they'd demolished it as part of phase one of the project.

Indulging his compulsion on the tables

I'm going to have to take more chloroform with it at work. I'm ashamed of my reply to T.Aldous:

"It'll be Milkbeck Library's centenary this autumn. We should do something for it."

"We could have a book sale."

The lion was returned to its display cabinet

Catty Library staff are Not Impressed. The plan for the re-furbished Catty Library has finally materialised, six weeks after the original re-opening date.

There is not a lot of shelving. In part because somebody has decided that a strip half the width of the library shall be the walkway from the foyer to the back wall. The counter can't go in the walkway, and neither can the public computers. So everything has to be stuck against the walls.

Except for the bit of wall that has a pile of unboxed pipes for some reason or another and so can't have anything stuck against it. So that's where the counter's going to go. Despite the fact that the proposed sightlines are such that you can only see the walkway. Well, a six-foot length of the walkway, but you get the idea.

Other than the counter there are only two detailed specifics of function/service on the plan...

The two booksale points in the foyer.


There's a smell of fear at Umpty Library. A chap from the Building Section has just come in and re-sealed the double-glazing units. Unfortunately, the new seal is a different shade of grey to the old one: Pantone PMS415 not PMS403. Julia or T.Aldous would spot this like a shot and there'd be weeks of consequent mithering. In an effort to forestall this, the girls ask the chap if he can manage a better match. He promises he'll do what he can.

The magic fish that eats all the spots when you've got the measles

a realistic number Daisy Dormouse asks me for a list of all the lapsed borrowers at Roadkill Library for a fines amnesty mailshot.

"If we take it as every who hasn't used the library in the past year there's 5,555 of them. Is that too many?"

"Ooh yes. We need a more realistic number than that. How about all those that haven't used the library since the beginning of this year?"

"There will be more of them: we'll be adding in the borrowers who've lapsed in the last six months of last year."

"How about all those that owe fines?"


"Ooh no..."

"What number do you want? Give me a number and I'll give you that many borrowers."

"We need a more realistic number..."

"If I limit it to just the adults below retirement age that gives us 776..."

"Ooh... No... We need something more realistic"

"And if they owe us more than a fiver that's 147."

"Can you give us that and I'll get Dotty to check them out. Then if you give her the first list she can work through it to get a more realistic number."

I send Dotty the list of 776 names and suggest that she cherry-picks from the list, stopping when she gets fed up.

Not known for their anodyne fluffiness

Maybelle's organising an event for upstairs in the library next week. In an attempt at doing the right thing by elected members and raising our profile in the world she invited along a few councillors.

Councillor Mountebank rose gracefully to the occasion:

"Don't you know how busy I am? This is far too little notice. I can only assume that this is either poor management or an attempt at a deliberate snub to me."

Maybelle is well-behaved and mostly laid back. In her place I'd have replied that it was lousy resourcing of the service and that I was having to organise this in odd five minutes in between covering for posts that had been deleted or left unfilled to cover budget shortfalls within the council.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Seth has a new toy. A brand new, big, boisterous drill.

"How the hell did you manage to get that?"

"Well, himself wanted those notice boards putting up at Roadkill and Glass Road and Spadespit and Milkbeck p.d.q. but didn't want to pay for Building Services to do it."

"So I recall."

"So I was telling Jim and Milton about this and Julia was earwigging and they said that they couldn't understand what the problem was. So I asked T.Aldous again and he said to tell Maisie to check out the prices and set up an order. So that's what I did. Central Procurement told Maisie to get the drill from Argos because the council gets a discount; she set the order up; I went over and I come back with the drill. Cost less than it would for the council's joiner to go over and just do Glass Road."


"So I went over and did Roadkill and Milkbeck and Spadespit. Done and sorted. When I come back T.Aldous said: 'I've authorised the order for the drill, you'll soon be able to get it.' So I telled him: 'I've got it.' Priceless."

"Done and dusted?"

"I've still got to go out to Roadkill. I was going to go out this morning but he said no way. 'We have to decide where some of the stuff on the wall needs to go so that it's clear for the noticeboards.' Just imagine that: paying for a chippie to go out to put up noticeboards and telling him to come back another day because you've not decided where they're going!"

No wonder you can't move in this place for stuff that's been bought years back and is still awaiting decision as to where it's going.

Let's see if they're any further on fixing that umbrella stand

As I come back in from lunch I bump into Seth, our caretaker.
"I've just pinched a keyboard from your stores."

"Oh. How come?"

"Well I noticed an 'Out of Order' sign on a PC up in Ref. I had a look at it and it was just that the keyboard had come out but when I looked at it I noticed that all the pins in the end had been bent so I came down for a replacement. Is that OK?"

"That's brilliant, thanks."

"Apparently it's been out of order three days but they didn't tell anyone."

Penny plain but damned all the same

Noreen's up to her eyes in boxes of kids books (this might be the last gasps of Booked Up or it could be Boys Into Books, or else the Team Read collections, we've all lost the will to live). Suddenly she gasps, groans and grinds to a halt. Fearing sand in the gearbox, or else a potato in the exhaust pipe, I shout over.

"What's up?"

"I can't pass these invoices. The budget's run out of money."

"What? It's only June."

"Not the Book Fund budget. It's the account for recharged grant expenditure."
[Technically we buy and pay for the books for these projects as usual but pay for them from government grant money, not the Book Fund]

"I thought Mary adjusted that account to pay for this lot."

"You know what she's like. She put in another five hundred pounds."

"But you've got fifteen hundred books...!"

Mary's not in so I did the necessary adjustments so that work could resume. This is a notional budget anyway so I thought bollocks to it and stuck in another twenty grand.

Sometimes it's God's way of telling you that you're dead

Hetty asks me a question.

"This book's reserved. It's the only copy and we've contacted the borrower who's got it out and they still haven't brought it back. What do you want me to do about it?"

I'm frankly dumbfounded by the question but I try my best.

"What's the usual procedure when a borrower doesn't return a book that's on hold?"

"I've no idea."

"I'd contact them again but to be on the safe side I'd order an extra copy. It's not like we're short of money for books at the moment."

I mention this to Noreen.

"Oh God. Is that the one Posy Fluff was banging on about last week?"

It turned out that it was.

"Catty Library's been on computerised circulation for nearly twenty years. What did they do about reserved books that hadn't been returned before the library was closed?"

"They rang me or Betty and we told them the same as you."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Comedy simply oozes from this set-up

Good news and bad news: Dotty Trampoline, who's been running Roadkill Library for the last few months, has got her post-grad place at university lined up and she starts next autumn. Good news for her, and best of luck. Bad news for the Library Service: we can't afford to lose good young staff. (Good news for me personally: when she goes I edge closer to the median age for Library Service staff).

It's not really such a surprise: let's be honest, the Library Service isn't a particularly good employer. We don't value staff; we don't have a training and/or development plan; and the pay's so bad and the "professional" boundary so rigid that Dotty's in her mid-twenties and is already as far as she's ever going to get in her career in this organisation, coining in the luxurious figure of three thousand pounds below the national average wage.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Missing the point rather

A colleague tells me that they've bought in on the current vogue for away-days for front-line staff.

They're having theirs in the central library.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Things must be looking up

Had another go at the "Should you quit your job?" quiz. My job dissatisfaction level's down to 64%!

Does anybody want a cup of tea before he gets really maudin?

Out all day in Lancashire, nice to get out of the office. For some reason, ever since it was first suggested that I move my desk over to the windowsill the temperature in my office has rarely dipped below 30°C and there's no fresh air from the bus station blowing in through the air conditioning. If I thought for one moment that Policy Team could run a bath I might decide to put two and two together. As it is...

I was very much surprised to see that Lancashire still have corporation gulley suckers to keep the drains free of debris. I can't remember the last time I saw a corporation gulley sucker either at home or in Helminthdale. Which explains so much of the localised flooding last summer.

The sun has got his hat on

We need to up our game in the information and informal learning game in this service. We should take advantage of the announcement of new scientific wonders to promote our services. Like the latest picture of water on Mars.

(I'll be ashamed of this tomorrow. I'm feeling demob happy 'cos I'm having a day out.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

For "new" read "worse"

Pansy rang Human Resources to find out the current policy on eye tests.

"We're just in the process of revising the policy. We're devolving the decision-making out to service managers."

This is splendid news. The money our managers saved last year by telling staff -- untruthfully -- that they weren't eligible for paid-for eye tests would just about cover the cost of the new cupboard for pre-owned envelopes.

Silver surfin'

200 people at the Silver Surfers' Open Day at Windscape Library. Amazing: I can't imagine how one hundred people could fit into the library. I expect that the first thing that'll happen is that Norma will get a bollocking for breaking health & safety rules.

On investigation, I find out that most of the crowd stayed outside the library in the waning summer sunlight. This puzzles me the further:

  • There isn't a lot of "outside" at Windscape Library
  • What were they all doing?

At least the gazebo didn't make another appearance.

Hide and seek

Did you see that news report about the Japanese lady found living in some chap's wardrobe? We did. And now we're terrified to move any of the boxes in the fire exit corridor.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Another influx of Book Up books.

"How many more did you order, Frog?"

"It wasn't this many. They must be breeding in the corridor."

Repeat these actions until the novelty wears off

I've had another crusty email from Corporate Communications because I seem to have violated the Corporate Branding Policy by having the library catalogue's URL in my Outlook signature.

I'm pointed to a page on the intranet telling me not to do this. I elect to take no notice:
  • I happen to know the Corporate Branding Policy isn't written yet because the person writing it and signing off the project is on maternity leave.
  • Unless you're given the address it's impossible to find the "do not put the address of the library catalogue in your Outlook signature" page in our utterly impenetrable intranet.

I'll refer to the policy document saying I can. It'll be on the intranet somewhere.

Should have gone to Specsavers III

"I'm about due an eye test," says Salome, "does the council pay for eye tests?"

"Yes," we tell her.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ah well, it's bingo tonight

Milton lets me into a secret:

"I've been talking to IT about installing a wifi somewhere. Have a think about it and let know what you think."


Sybil's sorted for the next time she goes over the wire. We've made her an ersatz work permit identifying her as an apprentice Stuka-polisher from Blackpudden in the Brabant.

The smallest font available to the moody typesetter

"I've suggested something that can be written on The World's Biggest Whiteboard," says Milton.

We all get that way some days.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fax II

Joy be unconfined: Catty's fax machine, having been plugged in at Windscape, doesn't work. Salome's spent a couple of hours hunting down the manual only to find that it's a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of the manual of a completely different fax machine, lacking the pages on changing the settings.

And I thought I knew some choice language!


The local community has insisted on a fax machine at Windscape Library. After due consideration, T.Aldous has decided to send Catty Library's fax machine to Windscape.

"So what happens when Catty re-opens and needs its fax machine back?"

"We'll buy them a new one."

"So why not buy a new one for Windscape Library?"

"They want one now."


When I went out for lunch there was a table by the world's biggest whiteboard.

I come back to find it gone. Alwyn's been told to take it to Roadkill Library. We don't know what actually for. It may be a jape of some sort.

Great for movies and pigs

What kind of wretch uses a rasher of bacon as a bookmark in a library book?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Information literacy

For the umpteenth time this week, Wendy Muffplaster, the reference librarian at Umpty Library sits in a meeting and comes out with:

"Well of course, we can't do anything with the online encyclopedias because we haven't had any training on them."

And for the umpteenth time this week I quell the rising urge to ask how much training a Professional Reference Librarian needs to use the Online Britannica edition aimed at five to eleven-year olds.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The world's in rhyme

Bad news for Mr. Constantine, one of the customers at Panama Street Library. He's very fond of lorries and every week or so he brings a poem about lorries for the girls at the library to have a look at (he hasn't found a rhyme for Eddie Stobart yet).

Unfortunately for Mr. Constantine, the Leader of the poetry group there — a lady of a certain age and forceful character — has got wind of this. So delighted is she by the idea of getting a man into her group that she's virtually stalking the poor beggar.

"I can't even go to the chemists without me balaclava helmet on."

Good intentions

All credit to T.Aldous. He's sent an email to all of Policy Team saying that as far as he's concerned the workshop participants should be left to get on with their work without interference from their managers. This is doubly-surprising as not only has he said it, he seems be be sincere about it. And to be fair to the man, it's increasingly obvious that he is trying to stop micromanaging (it's often the strain on his face that makes it look obvious).

Milton and I were having a chat about this, which we both think is a pretty positive news for our chaotic change process.
"We're going over to the next workshop to let them know that they've got the permissions and authority to just get on with the work without having to keep referring back to us."

"Oh shit..."
I disagreed, at length, and intemperately, that going out to tell people that you're leaving them alone was counter-productive. Giving Milton his due, he listened despite the bad language. In the end he still disagreed with me but "people will say things to you they won't to us. Leave it with me, I'll have a chat with the others."

I hope I'm right.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I've got all me own teeth you know

Bronwyn's been working closely with the Acq. Team this past week, which is good because she now line-manages them (she always has to be different to the Helminthdale norm).

They've convinced themselves that this isn't a workplace at all. After careful analysis of behaviour patterns and outputs they've come to the conclusion that this is actually some sort of day care centre for the bewildered.

Which was funny at first but now they've started cackling and talking about imaginary grandchildren I'm starting to worry.


Popping into the new management suite to reassure Seth that he's done a good job of jerry-rigging a comms link to Doreen's PC (I offered, but he wanted to have a go and I'm happy to leave him to it, he's as much of an idea as I have) I noticed that the dustbin's been moved from the centre of the room.

It's been nudged out of the way by a shopping trolley.

Musical tables

We're on the next phase of this summer's major project, which is the same as all the previous phases, with added furniture.

This is as good a time as any to introduce Seth's new oppo, Alwyn. Alwyn's a nice bloke who's already completely shell-shocked by the way we do things here. He's settled on a strategy of reacting to the worst by standing back, smiling and hoping it will go away. He'll go far.

Where we are now:

  • Jim's got his old desk back, moved into the new room.
  • Doreen's got the desk that was left in my office when they took Jimmy Huddersfield's desk to give to Mary.
  • Julia's got Mary's old desk.
  • Milton keeps his old desk, once Seth managed to unstick it from the lift after it got jammed.
  • Jim's old new desk is now moved out into the main office to replace Jim's new old desk.
  • Two ginormous cupboards have turned up (each twice the size of the new pre-owned envelope cupboard) and now cover up The World's Biggest Whiteboard.
  • T.Aldous' new cupboard has been unwrapped and lent to Mary "while I sort my things out."

Close cubic packing

Another thirty-six boxes of Book Up books. The Acq. Team go into deep denial, in the desperate hope that they may get the four thousand Book Off paperbacks done and dusted by Friday afternoon.

The mood gets gloomier with the arrival of twenty boxes of Tagolog novellas.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Look & Learn

I asked: "What is the look & feel of your library building?"
  • 7% said: "Art Deco loveliness"
  • 14% said: "1950s deal and chipboard," "1980s nursery school," "Solid Victoriana" or "Ultra-modern, sleek graphite and clean lines;" but
  • 35% said: "Cash & carry warehouse"

Which suggests that the 'Designing Libraries' agenda may have some way to go.

Your evening of swing has been cancelled

Seth's just back after a few days off. He'd been rather hoping that the pile of boxes in the fire escape corridor might have been cleared. Sadly not: the Acq. Team were struggling to cope with a sudden panic-buy of stock ready for the re-opening of Epiphany Library (scheduled some time before the sun goes out); the remnant part-orders from the end-of-financial-year muck-up; and four thousand Book Off paperbacks to be received and invoiced by the end of this week. Then forty-three boxes of books turned up for the Book Up initiative.

It's difficult to know who's the more thrilled:
  • Seth, because it's yet more stuff to have to lug about out of the fire exit corridor;
  • Betty and Noreen, because it's a pile more work that doesn't count towards their performance targets; or
  • Frog, because he'd been rather hoping that this initative might go away until he'd sorted out the other national initiatives that have to be delivered this month.

Needless to say, there's a lot of bad-tempered folk about here today.


Email circulated from Naomi, who's covering Rosy's maternity leave at Glass Road, calling for volunteers for the library's contribution to the Glass Road Estate Pageant. Strictly speaking, she's calling for six two-legged volunteers, twelve one-legged volunteers, one with twelve legs or any combination thereof to act as "Eric the Very Hungry Catterpillar."

I hope she's providing them with lunch.

Not stereotyping at all

Maybelle's pulling together a pile of stuff for Refugee Week later this month. It looks interesting so I ask:

"Are we having a launch event?"

"Oh yes. I think. Sort of, probably, yes."

This surprises me as Maybelle's not one of our cast of inveterate dissemblers. Until it dawns on me that Mary's holding the purse strings.

"What's the activity for the launch event?"

"She wants drums."

"Not because most of them are Africans... ?(!)"

"I couldn't possibly say. She's just got it into her head that it has to be drums."

"I suppose we should be grateful it's not corn dollies."


As if there's not enough fun in this service, some bugger's gone and pinched the lead off the roof at Tench Road Library.

Paper chase

Frog's up to his eyes in it and should be submitting BookStart reports and arranging this month's launch activities for Book Off, Book You, Booked If I Know and the Summer Reading Challenge.

Which is why he's had to spend all morning cutting up sugar paper for Helminthdale's story time because nobody's been available to do it for the past week.