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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...)

ineffectual supervisor

About six months ago we got a new supervisor, a transplant from another branch. Her arrival coincided with the end of our summer-long renovation, which included the restructuring of our service hub, and the installation of an RFID sorter machine. She means well, but I find her management style is disorganized and frustrating. Examples include:

1. Wanting to implement a new way of organizing our shelving carts in accordance with the new sorter, talking to three people about them, then forgetting. It has more or less been implemented over the last three months, but mostly by word of mouth and, "Oh, that's how the cart is" when you arrive in the sorter room. Send an e-mail, for crying out loud!

2. Expecting the pages (myself and 5 others) to fill out extremely detailed spreadsheets which explain exactly what they've done during their shift. Did you shelve a cart? What was on the cart? Was it full? If not, how many shelves were full? Did you shelve the whole thing? If not, how much? How much time did it take you? Did you help any patrons? How long did that take? Did you shelf-read? Put away holds? Look for holds? Work on the hold expired list? For how long? Were you in the sorter room? How many bins did you empty? How long did it take? Did you empty the bookdrop? How long did that take? Did you process holds? How long did that take? Did you process exceptions? How long did that take? Jesus, my blood pressure is going up just thinking about it. If we weren't shelving or putting stuff in the sorter, if would be pretty obvious pretty fast. There would be no empty trucks, or a ton of full bins waiting to be emptied. It feels like a lack of trust and hugely nitpicky. Because none of us want to have "slow" times for shelving which may reflect badly on our performance, other things fall by the wayside, like shelf-reading (hasn't been done in months), or even just basic tidying of the shelves. Honestly? The stacks are a mess.

3. CONSTANTLY referring to her previous branch when discussing how something should be done. We're not the same branch. Get over it.

4. Using Comic Sans for her e-mail signature. *shudder*


Why, you're very welcome

Back on a Saturday in March of last year, a weekend staff member made up a card for a new patron who only gave a PO Box, and did not show proof of residency.  On Monday, the Circ Head caught this mistake and noted on the record this was insufficient and proof had to be shown next time.

The patron came in about a month later and could not show proof of residency when wanting to take out resume books. Several staff members explained this and of course, as the Evil Director, it got bumped to me.  She could/would not show anything with our town's address on it just emphatically stating, "I travel a lot".

She asked multiple times, "Why was I given a card, then?"  To which I replied, "We made a mistake, which as soon as we realized, we took steps to correct".  After the third time - and clearly, here's where i went wrong - I said, "For the third time, It's out mistake, i apologize, we are correcting it".

Now comes the yelling, foul language, I'm rude, all the usual, which I can hear from my office window as she goes outside and comes back in, still calling me every name in the book.  She's now at the public PCs working with her mother who also is not eligible for a card here, and when they get done, the mother stops at the Reference Desk to pick up print outs.  At this time, the mother places the resume books on top of a pile of their papers and folders.  The daughter comes over and not once, not twice, but three times, shoves the books until they fall to the floor.  Seen on security footage. She and the mother leave and on the way out a chair is kicked.  Not on security footage, bad angle.

Twenty minutes ago:
I get called down to the Circ Desk to talk with a patron who was as pleasant as can be to the staff asking for me because she wanted to thank me.  I don't recognize the name and bumble on down obligingly.

It's the young lady who wants to thank me because I was so rude to her with the resume books that I motivated her to get her dream job.  She thanked me profusely getting that dig in a few more times, so I just told her congratulations and you're welcome.

So her dream job is being a self entitled bitch?  I thought we had the Real Housewives of New Jersey for that?
Just curious--how do your roles differ in terms of what those who have a MLS are expected to do vs. those who do not.

If I had known that getting my MLS would mean that I would be the one waking up the sleepers, telling people not to eat at the computers, etc. I might have re-thought the degree! I understand a lot of why I am the one who deals with the behavioral issues (although my MLS program did not give me ANY training for it), but I have moments when I wish some of the "regular" staff would take some initiative and try dealing with the behavior themselves. The other day I was helping 2 people on the computers and a staff member came over to tell me that another man was eating chinese food. I finished up with the computers and then went to talk to the little old man who had brought in his dinner and explained that he could not eat it in the building. He was not intimidating at all. I understand that there are "scary" patrons who staff do not want to approach, but that isn't always the case. As a regular staff member, I would use my judgment about who to approach and who I should get a professional for. I just don't see that as much with the staff I work with now (with a few exceptions). I guess this really grates on me because at least once a week I hear "you make the big bucks!" Nobody is forcing them to stay in this low-paying job without any benefits!

Anyway...thanks for letting me vent. I gotta go wake someone up who's snoring away in the stacks! ;-)

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

April 2016


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