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Construction mo-fos.....and a schlock-fest

Some of you may remember the board member I posted about who is somewhat obsessed with our library becoming known as "the library that houses all of the classics." He is opposed to the purchase of what he terms "schlock" fiction - meaning popular fiction such as James Patterson, Janet Evanovich....really anything that appears on our new releases shelf whether it be Anne Tyler, or Danielle Steel. A few board meetings ago he suggested that we cease purchasing new fiction altogether. Because certainly, if people want to read that, they can go out and purchase it themselves. I said that we are collecting tax and school ballot money from the public to fund our book budget. Why would we not purchase books that people are requesting? He said that that was irrelevant. I further suggested that people in this village and town do not have spare money to spend on books (which is besides the point because they shouldn't have to.) He disagreed on that point as well. (How a person who volunteers at our local food pantry doesn't realize that there is a very low level of expendable income in this area is beyond me.) He went on to resurrect his idea of becoming a subscription library. We order the books, people come in and pay for them themselves. Oy. This went on for a while as I considered quitting and walking out of the meeting right there. He also suggested that I should come up with a list of books that I want to order and bring them to board meeting for approval before purchasing. If it ever comes to that, I really will quit. (Also, he said "Shouldn't there be a policy about materials are selected?" I told him that there is a materials selection policy.....so we will be going through that line by line at the next board meeting. Because.....it turns out none of the board members have copies of any of the policies. I am also going to suggest that my trustees attend a trustee workshop to learn what their job entails. This will go over EXTREMELY WELL.)

Second issue. State grants for construction. AT LEAST a year ago (before I was even employed here) my board requested and received an information packet from the library system with all of the information about the application process for a state construction grant. They were put off by the thickness of the packet, and put it aside. It has come up at every meeting. Finally, back in March I had someone from the system come out and explain that the packet is only that thick because it contains every possible document that COULD be necessary, not that IS necessary. Each library's situation is unique and it is up to the library to determine what documents it might need. Not all projects require the same amount of paperwork. Ours, for example, doesn't require architectural drawings etc. etc. The board - two members, anyway - was awful to our consultant from the system and I was embarrassed to be at the meeting. They decided not to pursue the grant.

Let us fast forward through months of dithering. I convinced them to have another think on the matter, because we could get 75% of our construction project funded. At our May meeting they decided to send a board member to a workshop at the system to determine whether or not we qualify for the grant. (I told them that we did, or else the consultant who has ten years experience dealing with this wouldn't encourage us to apply.) So they approved moving forward pending the workshop. Then there was an emergency meeting following the workshop at which they had many more questions....and nothing was confirmed. Then, at the June meeting they asked me all of the same questions I already answered at the emergency meeting (and the May meeting) and they bitched some more about how the library system hasn't done its job....but decided to go ahead with the application. We went to the town board meeting to explain what we need from the town (letters of assurance etc. etc.) I might also add that there were some hissy fits by board members in here where they said "I wash my hands of this. Who is going to work on this? Not me!" And during the library board meeting we had the night before the town board meeting (which we moved up a week, specifically so we could talk about our presentation to the town board) the library board president was moaning that he didn't want to make the presentation. Isn't that his job as the board president??? Doesn't he realize that if they hadn't dragged their feet on this for a year that there wouldn't be a time crunch right now???

The grant application is due on August 12th. I don't doubt there is enough time to complete it if I can successfully wade through all of the government websites and permits, but.....am I justified in thinking that my board should be helping me with the process instead of pushing it all onto me and being extremely negative about the whole thing? Especially considering that I am going on two weeks of vacation at the end of June/early July (and they have known this for months - my husband is in the Army and everyone takes vacation at the same time.) Also considering that we need construction estimates and cost breakdowns. I am not an expert in this field. The board member who has washed his hands of the project has worked in construction. The board president keeps combing through the 50 page power point presentation the consultant emailed and making lists of everything that needs to be done. He keeps adding to the list and bringing it by the library each day. He wants me to email it to the consultant to ask her if "this is everything, or are we going to find out about more things we need to do on August 10th?" Then he goes on to complain about how she doesn't know how to do her job. I don't want to hear any of his bashing. If he has problems with the system, he needs to call or make an appointment and speak with them. Our consultant is extremely nice and extremely helpful. She is dealing with at least 20 libraries applying for grants. He wanted to be present for the site visit so he could talk to her, but when I gave him the date he said he couldn't make it that day. (Several things on the list are forms we simply need to print out and sign. Several more are copies of state education law that we have to read and agree to. He could just as easily Google these as I can.)

I'm the sole employee, so I'm doing the summer reading program stuff in addition to this fun grant, as well as all of the other day to day duties. (Book ordering USED to be my favorite thing, until my choices got used against me at every board meeting.) I'm doing grant stuff on my own time. It's starting to affect me. I honestly feel like it's time for a trip to the doctor for an anti-depressant.

Oh - and just as an aside, I also brought someone in back in March to talk to my board about applying for 501c3 status. That was a HUGE no go with the board, despite the fact that we have the money for the application. They do not want to have to file federal taxes (our secretary offered to do it) and do not want to have to have a treasurer on our board. I tried to tell them that we would be eligible for so many more grants but....no.

As ANOTHER aside, the board has been taking the money that we get from the school ballot each year and just giving it to the town. It doesn't get put in a special account for us to use as we see fit. At the end of the fiscal year last year, we had something like $11,000 not spent in the budget. We have no capital fund and no rollover. This just went back to the town to use for....I don't know what. Perhaps some of it went into the town capital fund, and we are drawing on some of that this year for our construction project, but...what the hell? If we had a proper capital fund just for the library, chances are we wouldn't need to apply for a construction grant IN THE FIRST PLACE.


behind on everything

Page here. Our branch has gone through a lot of staff turnover in the last two years with a slew of retirements, promotions, and transfers. As a result, certain things have fallen by the wayside, namely shelf-reading and weeding.

We keep most periodicals for one year; things like quarterlies we keep for two years and weeklies for 6m, hence we normally do weeding in that area twice a year. I noticed a few months ago that someone had started weeding the weeklies, and I assumed the rest would follow. Well, now it's May and it's still not done, and in some cases we're running out of room and cramming them in their boxes on the shelves. So, Sunday being slow, I took it upon myself to sort through them and remove everything from 2014. I must have removed several hundred magazines, and I only got to M. As a page, I neither have the training (nor the pay grade) to discard magazines (there's spreadsheets involved), so I left them on two carts hoping someone will take care of them and instead of getting a talking-to about "not your responsibility" I rather get one about "appreciate your initiative". It only took me an hour to go through half the periodicals - though I know it will take a little longer than that to discard them - so I don't understand why this wasn't done sooner.

And shelf-reading. I think it's safe to say the branch as a whole hasn't been shelf-read in over a year. Certain small sections can get done in short order, and the reference staff put stuff back in order when they've done weeding, but when I came back from mat leave last year I felt like I was being punked by my new supervisor, because every shelf I put something on had something else in the wrong place. I'm not just talking 551.6 before 551.46, but adult NF in with JNF, 695 in with 595, 811 in the 300s, English fic in the French... It never ends! We've now lost two pages so the next few weeks are going to be hectic, so never mind shelf-reading, but it's just so frustrating.

Mind you, I'm the kind of person who'd be happy if patrons never touched books at all and only told me what they wanted, because the phrase I hate to hear the most is, "Put it back where you found it."

Because some people are just....

We had a student carry a fire extinguisher in from another building (we are guessing concealed in a backpack) , go up to our fourth floor and spray 7 ranges of books. 

The spray was so intense that it set off the smoke alarm on the other end of the floor.   The entire floor was closed for nine hours for cleaning, and we are still in process of determining if the books are in good shape or not.

We are in the last week of classes and students were pissed that we had to close and entire floor for nine hours.  If I were them, I would have hunt down the kid covered in foam spray and taken it out him. 

From one extreme to the other

Previous boss liked to think that if she ignored it, it would go away. Therefore, our back staff area was a mess, everything was cluttered, and nothing changed in the building in the 7 years since it had been built. (I have worked here for 12 years, and we had someone donate money to get us a new building because the other was in real bad shape)

In the last 6 months since we have gotten a new boss (the other retired), we have had a complete overhaul on how things are organized, we are allowed to put up signs advertising programs on the ends of the shelves, the counters have been cleared. Old stuff has been thrown away (paper money records from the past 10 years which made no sense to keep). Etc.

Stressful finding things, but it is worth it in the end.

Now, I am an Aide. And I have OCD, and change is even more stressful for me, but I have gotten over most changes so far.

We have these little 3 shelf green carts, that are about a foot+ wide that we use to take books to the various sections to shelve. We have a huge cart behind the desk, that both sides are filled from check in. Things are sorted by row, but not organized beyond that. Those, when they are filled, are taken to the back for the two shelvers to alphabetize, load to green carts, and go shelve.

Now comes the part that is making me want to pull my hair out:
Boss wants to replace the large cart in the back with 6 little green carts, for circ to fill up. One for fic, non fic, LP/NEW, JFic, Picture, etc And we are to take them right from circ to go shelve. Sounds fine from a step back.
What in reality is going to happen:
Nothing will be in order, they will be crammed full of books, they will be hard to put in order because things can't shift books when there is no room to shift them.

All of that is to save the 'time' of moving things from the big carts to the little carts.
But it is wasting circ time (if they indeed try to put things in order for us), because circ doesn't really have the mindset for organizing (believe me!), and organizing the carts to shelve them is one of the things I enjoy doing the most, and I think handling the books an extra time is a good thing. Circ doesn't catch problems with books, the shelvers do (I pulled 10 waterdamaged/stained/broken books from ONE large cart yesterday that circ had checked in). Plus there isn't always a shelver working, so the carts will have to be put in back and replaced frequently.

When changes are proposed to us (there are 8+boss), I am the only one voicing opinions, while later after the meetings, other staff come to me saying they aren't thrilled with the idea. The staff who are okay about things are the two ref people (they do NO circ), and the two new people who feel they need to be agreeable. The other two who hate the idea don't like to be vocal about these things.

Anyway...am I being unreasonable? I already had an evaluation with the new boss and one of the things mentioned was I had a negative attitude. I hope she was referring to my gallows dry humor when I talk to staff rather than me trying to voice an opinion.

Sorry if TL:DR

And I hope that made somewhat sense. It is past time for bed, but I needed to get this off my chest
Without comment, I offer this note I found posted in my local library restroom:

To the person with the duct tape:

The ceiling fixture over the handicapped stall is a sensor, so the lights come on when someone comes in the bathroom. It is not a camera!

Please, if you have questions or concerns about any equipment you see in the library, please ask a staff member. We will be happy to explain it to you.

--(Friendly Neighborhood) Library Staff.

More of a mofo day than an actual mofo

1. A parent keeps pestering me about her kid's grade. Says I "threatened" them with an F for not doing their work. Well, I wasn't going to give them a cookie for turning in a blank assignment. Even when I told her I was going to give them the missing assignments to make up, she keeps getting mad and I don't even know what she wants anymore.

2. Another parent wanted my contact info to talk about her kid's grade, which is a high B.

3. A student died around 12:30-1am today after a brief illness. They had serious physical and cognitive disabilities, the former occasionally causing IMMENSE pain. I'm sad and I'll miss them, but I'm also glad that they'll finally have some peace.

I HATE this commercial!

At 0:50 this piece of junk totally encourages library mofo special snowflake behavior at its finest.

For those who didn't read my first post about this, our new supervisor has been making the pages (shelvers) complete a spreadsheet to quantify every conceivable thing we do during our shift, i.e. check our e-mail, shelve, look for holds, remove expired holds, shelf-read, empty the bookdrop, take our breaks, how many bins of transiting material we emptied, how many we filled... it's insane. It's presumably in order to appraise our performance. We were initially asked to do this for a few weeks, but it's been four months now with no end in sight.

So Coworker (CW) started a private conversation on FB on Monday about the Spreadsheet Hated Intimately and Totally (SHIT), including myself, and several other pages, both ours and casuals. Though not all our pages were part of the FB conversation, we got confirmation that five of our six pages don't like the SHIT, and that the pages from other branches think we're insane for going along with it. CW1 also mentioned that the supervisor told her she was probably going to start counting how many items are on a truck so she can get a figure of how many books are shelved per hour, and helpfully providing us with clipboards so we can better record our SHIT instead of going back and forth to our lockers.

CW1 also said, and I quote, "I have clearly talked to her about how converted branches or any branches for that matter do not have the page worksheet. I have also told her that it's really pointless because you can't make someone shelve faster. So her answer was again it's for performance appraisal and she knows of a supervisor who actually has a stopwatch and times how fast you can shelve when it comes to performance evaluations. So I said to her, I'd actually prefer that because you do it once and then it's over with. So then she said to me (which I was a little taken aback and frankly offended and which leads me to believe that the worksheet will be long term) she doesn't agree with that because at that moment you will be shelving quickly and then the rest of the year you won't shelve as fast."

Our positions are unionized, and another casual employee believes what our supervisor's asking us to do might be against union regulations. At least two of us (ahem) have not filled out anything or submitted any of our SHIT in over a month, and CW1 has told me she won't be filling hers out anymore.

CW and I are going to talk to our supervisor tomorrow during our shift. We have several points to make about the non-efficacy of the SHIT:

1. It fosters distrust in our work, as she should be observing our work and our work ethic directly, not relying on us to take note of everything we do.
2. None of the other branches do this. They actually observe their staff working. She keeps saying it's temporary, but going from a few weeks to a few months with no end in sight is excessive.
3. Counting items on a truck is a waste of her time as a supervisor. I'm pretty sure stats can tell her, within a certain margin of error, how many items were checked in on any given day. Stats were calculated system-wide on shelving averages about three or four years ago and should also be available to her.
4. If any one of us wasn't pulling their weight, it would be really obvious. There would either be no empty trucks (because no one was shelving) or no full ones (because someone was not doing anything in the sorter room). There is never nothing to do at our branch.
5a. The spreadsheet creates this expectation that when you're on the floor, all you're doing is shelving and nothing else: not straightening up the shelves, cleaning up piles of books, or helping/directing public inquiries. So either we're helpful and tidy and our shelving time is crap, or we're rude and messy but hey, we're shelving fast! There's no happy medium that doesn't make it look like we're not working hard and it's unfair.
5b. Helping patrons with specific inquiries is not part of our job description. But when we do help patrons with general inquiries (and we get a lot of that being on the floor), it shouldn't be counted against us when it takes an hour or more to shelve a cart because five different people asked where the graphic novels are. We shouldn't have to note on a chart how many times our shelving was interrupted and how many minutes it took us to help a patron. That's what the info desk staff does, and they do have a program to track that.

My problem is I don't want her to feel like we're attacking her. She's a nice person, and honestly, she became our supervisor right when our branch experienced a massive shift (i.e. getting the sorter). I get that she needs to be able to evaluate us, but I want to be able to offer options and not just rant about the effing spreadsheet for twenty minutes.

Any advice on how to tactfully say we all hate the ever-loving shit out of this spreadsheet and we want the Big Brothering to stop would be very gratefully accepted.
We've been without fully functional phones for 2 weeks now.  The voice mail module of the system got fried so somebody calling in will never be able to connect to an extension, so phones aren't ringing.  The only way we know there are calls to answer is if we happen to see the line blinking red on the phone itself, answer it, and transfer to the right department. Because at any of our public desks we have time to just stare at the phone.

What is mind numbing is that the Board says, "But we just got that phone system put in".  Well, you've been on the board for a little over 167 years so "just" is relative, isn't it?  It's 10 years old and the wiring was done by drunken monkeys.  I keep getting told by the persons I've called to repair it - because the Board want to repair and limp along for awhile longer - that the system is outdated, not even sure they can get the part, etc.  And the worst part is days go by from these people with a status update!!!!  Call on my cell phone, send an email, an owl, a raven, something!

Patrons keep calling Borough Hall asking why the Library isn't answering their phones and somebody even called the police.
Courtesy of Angelica Schvyler on Tumblr:

An Old English word for library was bōchord, which literally means "book hoard", and honestly I really think we should go back to saying that because not only does it sound really fucking cool, but it also sort of implies that librarians are dragons.

(Not that I'd ever presume to meddle in the affairs of orangutans, either...)

Authority Record

the fuck
The Society for Librarians* Who Say "Motherfucker"
For all of those times when the gatekeepers of the world's knowledge are called upon, in their professional capacity, to use the word "motherfucker." Or at least to seriously consider it.

*Open to librarians; library associates, specialists, technicians, and paraprofessionals of all kinds; library school students; library aides and volunteers; and all of those who love libraries, or even just love a particular librarian. Welcome.

Date Due

June 2016


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