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

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stock footage

T.Aldous is in a bate about boxes again. Largely because they're in the space where he wants to have two sofas and a coffee table so that people waiting to see him can feel nice and comfy.

The boxes "belong" to the Assistant Librarians and they're full of books that either need transferring to another library, transferring into the reserve stock collection, replacing with new copies or removing from the catalogue completely. T.Aldous is annoyed that they've been there for months. This isn't strictly true: there have been boxes in that area for months but they've not been the same boxes throughout. T.Aldous, like most of the rest of our management team, has no concept of dynamic process or throughput.

For years we didn't stock-edit our shelves. In part this was because the Stock Editor, Monsieur Eddie Gravy, didn't get on with the Assistant Librarians. But mostly it was because T.Aldous' predecessor saw the inability to jam another book onto the shelves as a signal to his professional virility. (The remaining stock we have from his time all have broken spines.) When Eddie left there wasn't anybody around to officially stock-edit any more. Some of the library assistants took it on themselves to do the necessary, weeding the lame and unloved out from the overstocked shelves. They got a bollocking for their trouble and went back into their box.

Of course, while all this was going on T.Aldous negotiated a rise in the book fund. Which should be A Good Thing in a public library. Unfortunately, while we were meeting our performance target of 50,000 new books per annum we weren't doing anything about either removing 50,000 items off the shelves or getting additional shelf space. Quite the reverse, in fact. We clung onto the old stock and reduced the amount of shelving in nearly all our libraries.

Which is why Windscape Library didn't have any children's books less than three years old on their shelves. All the new stuff was in boxes in the back room.

Bronwyn has been in post a year now and she is starting to see some headway in all this. Unfortunately, a massive stock-edit of our libraries means that there is a hell of a lot of stock to transfer to another library, transfer to reserve stock, or get rid off. And this takes time. Especially when the Assistant Librarians at Catty Library send their stock over to Helminthdale to be sorted because they "are too busy to do it."

Oh, and when the Chief Librarian insists on vetting the stock to be chucked out and put into book sale.

"You can't put that into book sale. We bought it in 2001 and it's never been issued. What will people say if they see that?"

Perhaps they'd say it's precisely the stock that hasn't issued in eight years that should be removed from the lending library stock.


PI said...

My husband has a thing about cardboard boxes and if I didn't put my foot down they would be in every room.

Affer said...

Lateral thinking, and a giant tube of Copydex, would have those books stacked and formed into three-seater sofas in NO time!

Gadjo Dilo said...

50,000 new books per annum, eh? There must a third-world country somewhere where kids are just itching for a supply of free copies of Old Scruttock's Almanack For 2004, or whatever it is the money is spent on.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Pat: my house would be the tidier for a load of cardboard boxes.

Affer: we did once make a sofa out of boxes of "Book You" books (long story). It was worth the bollocking.

Gadjo: there are. The big problem is that there are a couple of hundred library services with a similar problem and we have to be careful not to wreck the infrastructure of the charities involved by swamping them all at once.

Charlie said...

Pat from Past Imperfect suggested I pay you a visit because I might like you. I don't think she meant it in the biblical sense, but rather that you have a bad case of the humors.

The reason for her suggestion is this:

Library Science 101

I have duly read "The Story So Far," and I believe I am ready for anything you can throw at me. Not in the biblical sense, like hellfire and damnation . . .

The Topiary Cow said...


That libraries should have excess boxes of books instead of room for couches, one would think, would be a given and thus accepted by management and staff alike.

Love the suggestion by After...and second with, comfy pillows made from shredded, recycled books?

And tasty drinks made from fermented pages of reference books?


Kevin Musgrove said...

Charlie: Hello and welcome! Your photo is a classic of the form.

(And I'll even forgive Pat for calling me a librarian!)

Ms Cow: ah yes... RefLibrary Cola!