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

Friday, September 11, 2009

Not in the mood

There's a new council/health service/voluntary sector all-singing all-dancing civic centre opening on the site of the old Catty Town Hall at the end of next month. This particular one has been on the cards for a couple of years but the concept in general has been approved locally for a while longer than that and it's planned that each of the old County Boroughs will have one.

One of the services that's going to be provided is a small library - in effect an outlier of Catty Library. They'll be using a small deposit collection and they'll be issuing and returning on our library management system. Again, this has been on the cards for the past couple of years and on the rare occasions that Policy Team tell the common horde what they've been doing to earn their corn this has always featured in third place behind "meeting performance standards" and "filling vacancies."

For the past few months I've been asking how this new library is going to work so that I can set them up accordingly on the system. And so that I can work out the complementary human systems and training resources. Will we expect them to behave just like any of the branch libraries and have all the consequence processes and workloads or are we going to be more selective? How do we want other libraries to work with this one, and vice versa? Simple stuff, so long as somebody makes timely decisions.

Ha ha ha ha.

Anyway. I've asked. And I've been asking more urgently the closer we get to opening time. And I've finally got an answer late yesterday afternoon. My response to the answer was to ask a pile of new questions so that I could try to make sure I was going to come close-ish to what Julia thinks she wants this library to do (Julia being the Group Librarian taking a lead on this project). The more questions I've asked the more it becomes apparent that, for all the talk of this being a work strand that Policy Team has been tackling with all the deliberation one would expect from a team of highly-paid Professionals, she's making it up as she's going along. She has no more idea than me what the Library Service wants to do with this centre.

In times past I would have been sympathetic and made the effort to give her a bit of a steer towards something we could both defend. In times past. To be honest I've lost patience big time with Policy Team and this is just another reason to be annoyed with them. The most professional thing I can find it in myself to do is to ask the questions and explain why I'm asking them. Rather despite myself I think I've got the technical issues ironed out so that they'll work whichever way she jumps - I've been worrying about this so long I've subconsciously gone through a few dozen contingencies and work-throughs and three of them can be used off-the-peg. Which is just as well as it doesn't look like Milton's input on the project, which he hasn't involved me in, is delivering not a right lot either.

To cap it all, I've just had another email from Julia asking me if I want to go and talk to other libraries that are doing this so that I can determine what services we should be providing and how they should be provided.

I graciously declined the invitation.


The Topiary Cow said...

Just the concept of a "small library" has Cow gagging.

Would that just be internet ports then? Or a motley collection of used paperbacks on a cart, unaphabetized, with an elderly lady tending them?



Anonymous said...

Fuck me sideways: is there an "idiot library manager" meme going on?

I know quite a few of us are doing these joint service things at the moment. In our case we're making it more complicated. The new centre abuts the library and they've knocked the wall through. When the library's open it's part of the centre. When it's not... I know there's a plague of obvious questions. I have no answers. Despite the fact it opens early next month. (!!!!!)

got the nod as to what it was I was supposed to be setting up in a phone call a couple of days before I went on holiday. It wasn't packed with useful gen. The day after I got an email asking me to talk to a neighbouring authority to see what services we should be providing (SNAP!) I made an excuse and left.

Gadjo Dilo said...

I'm beginning to see the scale of your frustrations, Kevin: my own abiding memory of libraries being places filled with books and people in cardigans simply cannot hold for much longer. I once studied something called Requirements Engineering, a strand of which calls for correct formulation of the problem rather than finding the solution - so, yes, asking the questions may be the most professional thing you can do in the circumstances.

Macy said...

Bringing Back Horrible Memories.... looking on the bright side you are allowed to ask questions without it being taken as a sign of "your" incompetence.....

Madame DeFarge said...

I'm not entirely sure what to say in the face of such a heartfelt expression of grump. I'd like to make you a nice cup of tea and give you a chocolate Hob Nob, but that seems a barely sufficient response to your plight. I trust that declining the invitation did not provoke any further problems.

Pat said...

I was in Wiveliscombe yesterday and passed a building labelled library and couldn't help wondering of the goings on inside but decided not to investigate. Reading your posts is as close as I want to get to it.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Ms Cow: Yes to question one. God alone knows to the first part of question two. I've yet to meet my trainees-to-be.

Anon: so that's you is it? You've got my sympathy. I think they learn this idiocy at the leadership courses they all seem to have been going on.

Gadjo: the front of house is still generally cosy and mostly welcoming (we have one or two exceptions but generally do OK on that score). Backstage it's like a mouse in a blender.

Macy: it is seen as a sign of my incompetence but I'm intellectually arrogant enough not to give a shit.

Madame DF: thankee kindly lady. I expect it will do.

Pat: go in, they'll be grateful. Seriously. Most libraries have front of house staff who are either good enough to not let the customers see how things are backstage or bad enough not to have any idea themselves.

Pearl said...

Such complexities!

I have an ice-cold beer for you. And one for me.


p.s. Regarding your comment on my post from Saturday, Insta-strobe?! If I may borrow the word, "BRILLIANT!" I've actually enjoyed the Insta-strobe for years. :-)

Kevin Musgrove said...

Thanks Pearl! These buggers will drive me to drink.

I look forward to the informercials. (-: