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.'"