Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
"You're very cheerful again today, Kevin.""I am. I don't know what's up, it doesn't feel right at Christmas.""Please could you pack it in? You're frightening the staff."
Monday, December 27, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
- Patience, fleas, the night is young
- The bureaucracy involved in not being able to buy a new inkject printer
- An infestation at Cattermole Street Primary School
- Rumours of werewolves at Dutch Bend Library
- The results of the staff regrading exercise
- The biggest, scariest project you could ever imagine
- Reporting back on the Library Service Action Plan
- Libraries threatened with closure because a councillor was holding a sheet of paper upside down
- Preparing a PowerPoint presentation for an inspection
- Catty Library is co-opted into the German Navy during a freak thunderstorm
- Why bookshelves kill projects
- Why badgers kill projects
- Why carpets kill projects
- There is nothing so swift as a manager avoiding their workforce
- Leadership is a foolish consistency
- It's usually a good idea to count the wheels on the mobile library before going out
- Builders prop up a door lintel with fag packets
- Having to count the bricks in the fire escape corridor
- A caretakers' revolt
- Innovations in Outlook folder management
- "My email isn't loud enough"
- "Should I throw a bog roll at you when it's urgent?"
- A bad night out in Helminthdale
- A talk by the Head of The Department
- A blue plaque for the wrong singer
- Mangers' report on a service inspection
- Results of the staff regrading exercise
- Inspectors' report on the service's management style
- Sheep City's new publicity poster
- Redecorating the library
- Victorian paintings found in cellar
- Library closures?
- T.Aldous' retirement?
- Results of the staff regrading exercise?
- Storing PCs in the toilet
- First aider knocked out by bookshelf
- Fifty paraffin lamps found in stairwell
- The Summer Reading Game
- Stock editing
- An Audit Commission inspection
- Library management styles
- Early retirement processes
- Replacing public access computers
- Ordering new PCs
- Installing the new book ordering system
- Finding out which days the libraries will be closed over Xmas
- Three staff off sick with trench foot at Catty Library
- Hand-to-hand fighting for the right to spend grant money for the intended purpose
- Staff meeting at Dutch Bend Library
- Library management
- Human Resources
- The Department of Culture, Media and Sport
- Stock procurement targets
- Mobile Library stops
- Keeping the doors open at Pottersbury Road Library
- A broken lift
- A broken PC
- A broken kettle
- email monitoring
- New identity badges
- Responses to status requests
- Systems replacement
- The new web site
- A project mismanagement meeting
- A library mismanagement meeting
- A meeting of the full council
- A senior manager's leaving do
- Staff training and development interviews
- A dead mouse
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
"I used to be strawberry blonde. Collar matched cuffs too. They don't now, not unless I spend a bit more time at the hairdressers."
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
"Eee... It's cowd in here!" she said."Is it?" asked Pansy.
Monday, December 20, 2010
"I'm going to fail that," she says."Bollocks," says I."I can't make a decision to save my life!""Bollocks.""I can't.""Of course you can. Just think of all that crap that was going on the other day. You sorted that out. You couldn't have done that if you aren't able to make decisions.""Yeah, but I nearly chinned someone.""You didn't, though, did you?""I nearly did.""Well... It would have been a decision.""Yeah, but a really crap one.""So... Having established that you can evaluate a decision, find it lacking and decide to do something else...?""I hate you."
Sunday, December 19, 2010
- Salome and Doreen have engineered escapes out of Helminthdale by the cunning wheeze of looking in the small ads in the Library Association Record (incorporating Whizzer and Chips).
- Salome's job is to be done, temporarily at least, by Thelma, with Thelma's job being done by Marie and Marie's job being done by whoever's seen to have some time on their hands at any given moment. (You'll notice that we aren't recruiting new people.)
- Doreen's job is to be divvied up between Julia, Jack Harry and Milton, with bits going to Maybelle or Bella or Thelma or Posy or Lola, depending on the wind direction on the day.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
"I don't understand how they can do that," says Jack Harry, literally baffled.
Monday, December 13, 2010
"Good afternoon, can I help you?" asks Posy."Are you new here?" asks the customer."No, I've been working here more than a year now.""Is that right? I wouldn't have thought: they're not big on smiling in here."
Friday, December 10, 2010
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
"What was it like?" I ask him."I was the youngest one there," he said, picking at his mustard plaster.
"Still, at least we know it's unlikely that we'll be getting any fascists elected here," says my colleague. "Even the most dyed-in-the-wool local recognises that any incomer seeing Helminthdale as a taste of paradise must have had a really shit home life."
Monday, December 06, 2010
"We don't mind postmodernist irony," says a judge, "but Helminthdale's effort smacks more of sarcasm."
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
"It's the wind chill factor," explains Billy. "When you get the wind howling through that gap in the floor by the rear axle it cuts you right to the bone."
Monday, November 29, 2010
"We're having a bit of a tidy up. We've got lots of Windows 95 CD-ROMs here.""Congratulations," I reply.
Friday, November 26, 2010
"What was the special today?" we ask."Spaghetti bolognaise and mash," she answers.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
- "It's on that shelf over there."
- "There's a PC over there, you can look it up on Google."
- "Not today, thank you."
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
"I'm going to have to be more careful," says Bronwyn. "I'm going to be done for insolence."
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
- Turn small green Marks & Sparks carrier bag inside out.
- Smear liberally with glycerine.
- Stick up nose.
Monday, November 22, 2010
"We're getting a cut of £400,000," he tells me."Ouch," I winced. "Mind you, you'd done well to have had that big a book fund after all that business last year.""Oh, we haven't. The book fund budget's now -£120,000. But the accountants are happy and that's the main thing isn't it?"
Thursday, November 18, 2010
"Hettie's been on the 'phone," says Maybelle. "She says that one of their customers has been in twice today to use the computers and what should she do about it?"
"The same as she has been doing for the past ten years, surely?"
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
"You appear to have some anger issues.""Yes, I'm bleeding annoyed with you, you pillock."
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
"Where are the floor mats for the yoga session?"
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
he tells me. Like you do."I have completed the Circle of Life,"
"When I first came here they gave me the job of replacing all the zebra crossings with Pelican Crossings. My final job is to decommission all the Pelican Crossings.""What are they replacing them with?" I asked.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
"You'll never believe the latest proposal," he says.
"We're going to Hell in a handcart. They're cutting staff and services and threatening to sell us down the river to a bad master. And all the while our library managers having been wringing their hands and telling us that nothing can be done, but take heart! because they have made sure that the power of the library service strategy stays in their hands."And do you know what the end product of a year's high-powered heavy-breathing strategic thinking turns out to be? Do you?"
"They're going to slap a lick of paint on the fucking wall and change the fucking name of the main fucking library. That's what.""You don't sound impressed, Ken," I ventured."I am sore vexed," he admitted.
"What are you doing here?" asked Norma."I'm covering for you, you're on holiday," said Kelly."But I'm not on holiday until next month," replied Norma."Could you not take the day off? I'd like to think I didn't get up an hour early to get the bus over here just to waste my time having to go back to Helminthdale."
Monday, November 08, 2010
Sunday, November 07, 2010
- There are the self-imposed strictures on other people's personnel issues. We're public sector workers working for a council that was announcing swingeing cuts to budgets and services before the General Election papers were being sent out so you can make a few guesses there.
- Many of the people I work with are readers of this blog. These are sensitive times, I need to be more careful than usual. I don't want anybody feeling even more fretful or vulnerable than they are already on account of a daft after-dinner story.
- I suppose I need to be careful on my own account, too. These are interesting times, I'm in a tricky position personally and I'm pushing my luck a bit with The Powers That Be concerning some of the stuff that's being proposed. And let's face it, I'm not exactly under deep cover here: at least two people have deduced who and/or where by piecing together the clues in the narrative. So I really should be careful. Actually, if it were only me in the firing line I wouldn't give a monkey's but at the moment it wouldn't be, so I do.
- There are tiny slivers of hope in all this mess. If the library service really does go down the toilet it will be because of an unholy combination of ignorance, arrogance and lack of imagination. I personally have an unholy combination of ignorance, arrogance and overly-active imagination so I'm putting a lot of my energies into trying to support people who are fighting for more positive outcomes. I'm not being awfully effective at it and need to get my act together, I'll admit, but I need to be careful not to compromise even those meagre efforts by telling the wrong tales out of school at the wrong time.
Friday, November 05, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
"Robert Plant? Isn't he married to what's her face?""That's right. She was on doo-dah the other night.""That's right. Wasn't Elvis Costello on that?""No, that was another night.""Oh yes. I can't remember his name...""Elvis?""No, the one who interviewed him when Elvis Presley died.""Oh yes, that was whasisname.""That's right, I remember it now."
Saturday, October 30, 2010
"Oh well. Maybelle's been on leave most of this week," they said. "She should have done it when she was in on Tuesday."
Friday, October 29, 2010
Don't forget to put your clocks back!
If staff must persist in sending hate mail to Mister Ramsay MacDonald please refrain from doing so on council headed paper.
"We've decided that the PCs in the foyer should be changed into 15-minute express kiosks. Can you come up and change them for us?"
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
"You seem to have a difficult relationship with your management team," says a passing stranger.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
"The contempt and hatred that our library managers have for our library staff is only matched by the contempt and hatred that our library staff have for our library managers," he tells me.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
"You shouldn't have done anything until you'd spoken to me," says Julia."I rang and you were in a meeting. So I sent you an email marked urgent explaining what had happened so that you'd be able to pick it up when you got out of your meeting," explained Verity."I went straight from that meeting into another one.""I know. Then when I rang you for the third time you were on your way over to Dutch Bend. So I asked Milton if he could sort things out because we were getting a bit worried about it.""You'll never be able to get an electrician at this time in the afternoon.""He's here at the moment. Do you want a word with him?" asked Verity.
"It took me ages to find out what those leggings actually are. Technically they're 'Early Period Hose'," he tells us.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
"The mobile's a proper advert for the council," says Billy. "It's a shit-tip and it's falling apart. In that case it does what it says on the tin."
"I'm sorry, but our staff need to be more flexible and they need to take responsibility themselves for making sure they know how to do their job,"
Monday, October 18, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
"Christmas comes early," I mutter."Yes, we can't just throw shit away, can we?" replies Maudie.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Friday, October 08, 2010
"I feel awful. My throat's red-raw.""That'll be the ribbed condoms.""No, I mean it. I've got swollen glands."
Thursday, October 07, 2010
"These days you're dressing like the foreign correspondent of some antediluvian broadsheet."
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
I hear myself say:"Leamholt's got a really active Facebook page. Why aren't we engaging with social networking like that?" she asks me.
"Strictly speaking, you're not even engaging with the World Wide Web."
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Sunday, October 03, 2010
- generalists who help you realise what you know and what to do with it; and
- specialists who are there to provide specific expert knowledge.
- The server room's been bricked up by senior librarians;
- My desk's been replaced by a coffee table and three sofabeds complete with pre-installed hippies with guitars; and
- I can't shout because my throat is filled with my own vomit
Friday, October 01, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
"Councillor Mountebank was at the Action Area Committee meeting last night. He was telling them all that there are plans to close all the libraries and turn them into housing offices. Which is odd because they've closed all the housing offices: the tenants have to get the bus into Catty to report repairs nowadays. But he insisted it was true.""I wonder where he got that idea from.""You know what he's like. There's no love lost between him and the Chairman of the Committee. He said that he wasn't having that news adding to the minutes just on Councillor Mountebank's say-so. They spent the rest of the meeting squabbling about the new school playground."
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
- Great Britain: House Of Commons: Employment Commitee :Youth Employment and Training: New Training Initiative (June 1982)
- Reorganisation Of Public Elementary Schools In England And Wales 1937-38
- Better Schools (1985)
- The Internal Purchasing Power Of The Pound (1989)
- Who Publishes Official Information For Business And Industry? Proceedings Of A One-Day Seminar 20 Sept 1988
- Financial Services In The United Kingdom: A New Framework For Investor Protection (White Paper) (1985)
- Employment For The 1990's (White Paper)
- Commercial Property Development (1975)
- Broadcasting In The '90s
- 2nd Report Of The Committee: A Comparison Of Transition Temperatures Determined By Small And Large Scale Tests On Five Steels (1960)
- A Simple Guide To Basic Processes In The Iron And Steel Industry (1964)
- The Queen's Award To Industry. Report Of The 1970 Review Committee
- Session 1987-88 Fifth Report The Future Of The National Health ServiceFirst Report From The Social Services Committee Session 1985-86: Reform Of Social Security
- The Artificial Kidney... What It Is And How It Works (1965)
- Europe: A Time To Choose, Elections June 1984
- More Examples Of English Handwriting With Essex Parish Records Of 13th - 18th Centuries (1950)
- Aids To Identification Of Flying Objects (1968)
- Collectable Silver (1963)
- A Policy For The Arts (The First Steps.) Cmnd. Paper 2601 (1965)
- A Brief History Of The National Gallery Of Scotland (1961)
- Local Government Reform: Short Version Of The Report (1969)
- Battle For The Counties: Guide To The County Council Elections May 1977
A colleague writes:
"When the phone call starts “this is Andrew”, it is the start of what can only be a period of serious misery. (Andrew is affectionately referred to hereabouts as Ernst Stavro Blofeld.)
"Anyway, the left hand counter PC had somehow, and mysteriously, got itself in a state whereby it wouldn’t reboot. Quite how it had got there is a mystery which would baffle Mr. Morse, Mr. Homes and Mr. Fu Manchu, as Mr. Blofeld wasn’t for letting on as to how it had become so afflicted. He did say however that efforts to reboot had involved pressing F2s and F12s, which was somewhat worrying as messing around with such is a typical, nasty trick at this library.
"However having visited and rebooted, resaved stuff they may have F2 ed off, and F4 ed a couple of times things seem ok, well all except my temperate demeanour and stress levels. I suppose it could have been worse as Mr. Blofeld was elsewhere, probably plotting to take over the world beyond with Mr Scaramanga, and his faithful assistant was, hopefully, heading into the sea, not out of it. "
These days I don't think I'd have the patience for that sort of nonsense: if they've fucked the PC they can fix it would be my response. Stories like this from colleagues in other library services remind me how lucky I've been with most of our front-line staff over the years.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
"You know that web stuff you've been working on? Well, I've been talking to some people about a product that does pretty much the same thing. They've been using it in other libraries and they reckon it'll do the job. I'm seeing them tomorrow. You can come along if you want."
"I don't know what it's supposed to be," says Cora."It's a Chinese lucky charm symbol," insists Sue."It's a Chinese lucky charm symbol," says Cora.
"Well, I'm not showing you mine," says Cora. "Not where I've got it."
"Here, I'll show you mine,"
"Is this supposed to be a Chinese lucky charm symbol then?" she asks."Yes," replies Sue."Why's it say 'Milk Marketing Board' then?"
Friday, September 24, 2010
"Every time I come in something else has been changed and the people who know anything about it aren't in. It's embarrassing watching people floundering, trying to find out where something's been moved to this time while the customer's stood there tutting and drumming their fingers."
Thursday, September 23, 2010
- Doreen isn't talking to Milton.
- Doreen and Julia are sometimes talking to each other.
- Nobody's talking to Jack Harry.
- None of them are talking to the rest of the staff.
- Julia and Doreen are pissed off because they've been included in the Buildings Management Review and Jack Harry and Milton haven't. Jack Harry and Milton don't manage any buildings but that doesn't come into it.
- Jack Harry finds himself included in the Transformational Management Review, which isn't as exciting as it sounds and thrills him no end as it's become painfully apparent that whoever's scoped this particular review just looked at the lists of people who attend (or, more strictly, get sent to) half a dozen of the council's Policy Development Meetings and decided that these are Transformation Managers, efficiencies for the use of, regardless of what any of them actually do for a living.
- Milton's not embroiled in any of the corporate senior management reviews, which rankles with Julia and Doreen, who would have a lot to say about it if they hadn't already fallen out with him about something else entirely.
- For some reason none of them are involved in the Regeneration & Strategic Planning Review.
- The results of a review of the management of the library service will be available next month.
- Maisie and Maudie are to be included in the Financial Support Services Audit, the stated objective of which is the creation of a central Financial Support Services Team, to be located in the Town Hall Annexe. Only by the grace of God and our managers not having the first idea of what they do did the Acquisitions Team avoid getting dragged into this scrape.
- I was damnably lucky to have escaped getting entangled with the IT outsourcing, thanks in part to a magnificent bit of circumlocutory lunacy by T.Aldous at the time. I doubt I'll be so lucky when it comes to the Information Support Services Audit that's being talked about at the moment. Strange that the reference library doesn't figure in this...
- The Fleet Disposition Analysis is going to make life just as awkward for the mobile library as it is for the library courier van and the housebound library service.
- One of the results of the Office Space Rationalisation Programme looks like our having to make space for Library Strategy Group (this week) some time this Autumn as they will be having to budge up so that the social workers from Ted Kavanagh House can move in. We suspect that this is what all the tape measures were really about early in the summer.
- Something is brewing in Sheep City which might drag in at least Dutch Bend and Catty libraries, if not all of them.
- And we'll all have to have our advocacy trousers on when the Customer Support Services Audit kicks in at the end of the year.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
"The new PC in the Ref. office isn't printing," says Eileen."Are you getting any error messages or anything?" I ask."No, it just says 'Printer can't be found.'""Which printer is it set up to use?""I don't know.""Which one should it be using?"
"I'll come up and have a look at it."
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
"How's your business affected?" I ask her."Oh, twenty-five per cent cuts, same as everyone else.""How's that work? They outsourced you and sold you to the lowest bidder so you're not a council department any more.""That's true. We're not council workers any more. They've changed the pension and redundancy agreements and they regraded down all our salaries. But when the council's trying to save money we still get our share of the cuts.""They can't do that, can they?"
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
"Look at the advantages we've got over the rest of the council," I said."What advantages?" they asked."It's utter chaos out there. Nobody's got the first idea what the hell is going on and can't plan ahead from one day to the next.""So?""That's how we've always worked. We're used to it. And what's more, we actually still manage to deliver services that the public like and appreciate and say nice things about in government surveys. While they're all wandering around all dazed and confused we could be nipping in there, nobbling the councillors."
Thursday, September 16, 2010
"Come to work in the morning light.No idea if I'm doing anything right.I'll soon know if I get it wrong.Librarians having fun.Librarians having fun."
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
"We have no strategy for survival but we know what to do if we see a dog having a shit."
"I had an awful morning at Pottersbury Road," Deirdre moans, "the kids were running amuck.""Did you tell them to pack it in?" asks Thelma."Well, no.""I think that might be why."
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
"What do you see yourself doing in a couple of years' time?" he asked one of the assistants."I'd hope I'd have been given a redundancy pay-off by then," she replied.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Monday, September 06, 2010
"One of the users has been giving staff a rare old run around while trying to trace her family tree. Thing is the same woman claims to be a medium, so as quite rightly the Family History Librarian points out, if she was any good as a medium she could just ask her ancestors and do her tree that way without bothering them."
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
"Bronwyn, we're getting a lot of complaints about the state of the biographies at Catty Library. They could do with some new stock.""Yes, I know. I think I've worked out which libraries I need to swap with so that they all get a decent lot of fresh books.""Why don't we just order a pile from the non-fiction budget?""There's no money in it now it's been cut."
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
"You're losing your touch," she says. "I was talking to Julia and Doreen and mentioned something and they said: 'That's come from someone else.' Just thought you'd need to know."
Monday, August 30, 2010
- The routine disarray of Helminthdale Library Service, particularly its management lapses;
- The routine disarray of Helminthdale Council, compounded by the sudden need to fix a humongous gap in the finances (it is entirely untrue to suggest that one of the departmental budgets fell at Kempton Park, though it's a fun anecdote); and
- The government's impending imposition of austerity economics, including the commissioning of Utility siren suits for senior members of the banking fraternity.