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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An orang-utan in a top hat is no great bargain

Fred Anonymous writes...

"Hi Kevin,

Our council had one of those equalities events the other week. You know the sort of thing: lots of folk get together in one place to be subjected to workshops and platitudes from the great and good. On balance they're a good thing as it gives some of the people who actually do things the chance to meet other people who actually do things and this network of useful contacts acts as a useful antidote to the Council Way Of Doing Things. If having to spend some time listening to patronising claptrap is the price to pay for such added value so be it.

A few folk from our library service went to it, including one of our senior managers. I found out today that he was doing a workshop on "delivering services electronically to the public." I only found out because he circulated the workshop notes. As I'm the only person in our service who actually is delivering services electronically to the public I was interested to find out what he had to say on the matter. I was a tad disappointed. We already knew that there were steps to the front door to one of our libraries. And that there aren't always enough People's Network PCs when the libraries are busy. And the signage could be better. But it's worth people reminding us, I suppose. What's remarkable about the whole thing is that the workshop doesn't seem to have covered anything about delivering services electronically to the public. At all.

Had I been consulted or involved I would have suggested that even our existing online services mean that customers don't have to be able to physically get to a library building during library opening times to receive library services. Which is a great boon for people who are time-poor due to family or caring commitments. And for housebound people. In fact, we could make a bit of a noise about the fact that some of our housebound customers search the web catalogue, place reservations on the items they want and the items are delivered to them by the housebound library service. We could explain about the ways that people can build their own reading lists, or use the online reading lists I've already created, to help them with their studies or literacy skills. Or reading lists for people working with people with special needs or who need help with their English literacy. And the online e-book resources we've been using to meet the needs of visually-impaired people wanting to study classic texts.

I would have said.

Ah fuck it. Ignore me, I'm forgetting the cardinal rule of the English public librarian: "what's the point of having an opportunity if you can't flush it down the lavatory before someone asks you to do something with it?"

Happy days.

I have no useful response to this, Fred. We both know the score: the real cardinal rule of the English public librarian is: Know Thy Place. Just don't let it get you down.


Macy said...

Senior manager doesn't want to do a workshop - he wants to make sure he gets in touch with the relevant groups, Help the Aged, Church Community Groups, Cancer Support, schools, and Mums and Toddler groups.

Ah, right, no. Maybe not.

Anonymous said...

No, thank God! We have real people as talk to them folk!

librarylizzie said...

I could weep

Kevin Musgrove said...

Macy: like the man says.

Lizzie: I know you've been there