- We don't have enough staff to do what we do the way that we do it at the best of times. With frozen vacancies and retirements at the front line it's made all the more difficult. Consequently, for most of the year most applications for annual leave are turned down because "there's not enough staff on that day." All annual leave has to be taken, without exception, by the end of March. So everybody's on leave throughout most of March and the service is on its knees.
- All the expenditure that hasn't been allowed all year suddenly has to be done and dusted before the third week in March. Which means that you can't buy any of the things you wanted or needed for most of the year and can only buy stuff that can be ordered and delivered virtually overnight. Luckily, there's no money about this year so we may be spared the constant inflow of cupboards, desks, chairs and paperback spinners for no apparent reason. We may still cop for a pile of waste paper baskets, though.
- All our statutory statistical returns are done for the end of the financial year. Which means that this is usually the month when there's a mad splurge in book-buying for to meet those targets (luckily there's no money about this year so we won't be repeating the performance where 40% of the year's acquisitions are done in the last six weeks of the year). This is the last opportunity to bump up the visitor figures and to get them to borrow more books. Which we do by running additional events and promotional activities using the people we don't have available because they're on leave.
A new wrinkle this year is that Frog's discovered that a project that Mary told him didn't have any money left in it has actually got a big lot of money that's got to be spent by the middle of April. He can't buy books from it but can spend it on training events, author visits and poetry performances. He could have had an event every fortnight for the past eight months. But no, Mary thought that the money could be reported as having been spent on administration (and the money going where precisely?). And so Frog's desperately trying to put together a programme of events and activities for early Spring. (Which we do by running additional events and promotional activities using the people we don't have available because they're on leave.)