Quietly Working

I’m taking advantage of the hard work yesterday clearing down old archives to make sure that the bags of confidential waste are prepped and ready for collection by our secure shredding service. If nothing else its giving me a workout, so I’m pausing a moment for a cuppa.

If there’s one thing this week of clearing out rubbish and shelving has made clear to me, it’s how the lockdown has affected my stamina levels. Before this week I’ve been having aches and pains, but now I have muscles letting me know that they’ve been used, and that’s a good thing.

What I shall need to be aware of is that many of the people I work with will be in similar states as and when we reopen in whatever capacity to the public. It can be very easy to forget that working in a library is quite physical between shifting stock, being on your feet most of the day, and of course moving around to help people all over buildings that frequently have multiple floors.

When are we reopening? Well we don’t actually know yet. We were working to the assumption that it would be July, but the announcement this week of non-essential shops being allowed to reopen in a couple of weeks time has also folded libraries into that umbrella.

We’re still working out how to best do it safely, and are doing assessments on how to phase some sort of service back into play. In the meantime, data cleansing and physical cleansing are an ongoing process in preparation of any announcements.

So we’ll see what happens. Interesting Times…

Cleanup in all the Aisles

I’ve been putting it off, but yesterday I went into one of my libraries with a colleague to do a cleardown of surfaces and a general clearout of expired leaflets and paperwork. Eight large bags of recycling and three large bin liners later, we called it a day.

If nothing else it helped keep my back limber as I’ve had a trapped nerve for a couple of days.

The other good thing (aside from it being easier to clean surfaces), is that it has given me ideas for jobs for staff to do when they return, such as having a sort through craft materials. We have an archive of old crafts ideas dating back the best part of twenty years that needs a critical eye too.

Today I’ll be going back in to start going through the drawers behind the main desk. There’s a lot of rubbish in there…

Guerilla Tidying

Psst, there’s an advantage to being a library manager during lockdown. I get to go in there when no one else is around and sit and read and look after the books.

The libraries, I am sure of it, get upset if left alone too long. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had systems play up, or books slip from shelves when they’ve been alone for too long.

One of my libraries is due to be decorated this week, so I joined a couple of other managers to do some preparations ahead of the workmen arriving. Vulnerable books have been relocated, outdated paperwork shredded, and access points cleared so things can be quietly and efficiently completed with a minimum of annoyance to the library itself.

I could swear that the library is all aquiver about the attention its getting after weeks of quiet – its certainly been good to see colleagues again and to do something practical while maintaining our distances.

One or two books may have been perused in the process…

Data Musings

I’m back on the data cleansing today, removing out of date remarks and correcting errors where encountered. Its a painstaking process that even with my glasses on requires taking semi-regular breaks.

What I am noticing as I work through the spreadsheet and system is the sheer diversity of our customers. It is wonderful. Sometimes there are whole families with sequential entries where they’ve all joined at once, but more often than not a single digit difference at the end of the card tells a story of the range of people in our community that have walked in through the doors and joined up for their card.

Its something I’m aware of when working with the public every day, but something about working through each entry is reinforcing it for me, and reminding me of how lucky I am to work with so many varied individuals

Back to the Grindstone

Taking time for myself seems to have been the right decision yesterday as I was able to focus much better today. Its been another day of data cleansing, and catching up on emails, but also of rearranging some furniture in the flat.

I’ve wanted to open up the corner of our main living area that has a mass accumulation of cables, phone points, and general tech for a while as its been quite cramped. A lot of the tidying I’ve done the last few days was aimed at clearing the sofas off so I could shift one up closer to the piano and swap a low coffee table round to be against the wall on the other side.

This has meant being able to shelve and present our recipe books in a more usable way, and mean that I don’t have to perform a delicate dance round and between sofa ends to answer the phone. It does now mean that I’ve now got more stuff back on the sofas but its all odds and ends I’m in the middle of rationalising, discarding, or relocating anyway, so its all Just As Planned. Honest.

Hopefully the ability to focus will remain as I attack the next tranche of data, but even more importantly I’ve got to video some more clips in cosplay for another couple of projects. More on this… later…

Another Day

I’m not a fan of doing huge amounts with spreadsheets even as I acknowledge how powerful and versatile they are. This is mostly due to my number blindness which makes reading and recalling number sequences something akin to wrestling an oiled python.

Currently however that’s what a significant part of the day job entails, so I am now very pleased to have a couple of days off for the weekend – being able to remotely work has brought the advantage of bringing some form of structure to the week after all.

I’m hoping to use the weekend to get some letters off the DDC as a general nice thing for people. I’ve hand written some missives with a drop pen and calligraphy inks on some traditional paper-milled paper, and included a D&D game prop and a little present in the envelopes too.

I hope it brings a smile to everyone’s faces, but especially to myr s who is particularly struggling with lockdown isolation at the moment. Fingers crossed.

Data Cleansing and Inner Calm

We’ve been able to enable access to some work systems using Citrix recently, so now have a useful tool for calming the mind and feeling that I’m doing something useful at the same time: data cleansing.

Specifically we’re going through records to find where a remark has been left on an account and not removed in a timely manner. For the most part this is an oversight and is actually relatively rare, so I’m either removing the outdated remark or marking an entry on the shared report as checked and moving on.

Not only am I currently averaging a library a day at the moment, but I’m finding it a good way to occupy the spider-monkeys in my brain as they look for breaks in patterns and flag what needs further investigation – and as there’s no real deadline to work to I can move at a steady pace and coordinate with my peers who are also involved in doing it.

So that’s today’s path to inner calm: repetitive data work. Later I shall be doing something creative to let the spider-monkeys off the leash.

My, My, My Corona

Well, hello pandemic – we’ve been expecting you. Of course, being British and therefore fundamentally fatalistic I’m looking forward to getting it and not even noticing, or complaining that I get it while I’m booked off on leave already.

The most immediate impact in our household has been that Red Dragon 6, a Hannibal convention due to take place in a couple of weekends’ time, has just been postponed. The costumes will therefore stay in storage and we’ll find something to do, even if it’s just the three of us curled up on the sofa, possibly with the cub in attendance too.

I’m still not quite sure why everyone is panic-buying toilet rolls or why people are even buying antibacterial bottles and sprays and ignoring the soap.

In the meantime let’s all keep calm and carry on. If nothing else it has been very confusing for a Hungarian colleague of mine who thinks we’re not taking things seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The thing is: I work with the public – people of all ages and backgrounds – so I’ll almost certainly come into contact with it if I haven’t already. I’m also diabetic and am being treated for my blood pressure, so I’ll just keep being hygienic, touching my own face as little as possible, and limiting the possibility of my passing anything on to anyone else if I cough or sneeze – the same as I do with coughs, colds, the flu, or any other seasonal illness that does the rounds.

And my depression also chips in here, that if I get it and die, eh…

Chaotic Day

Well, that was a day. I think my body is trying to collapse into having a cold, with a sinus headache that’s lasted three days so far. So as you might expect I wasn’t full of the joys of spring this morning when I got into work and started to do the float and cash up.

Very quickly, from phonecalls and emails, my to do list grew rapidly – and then I had to stop and search in the safe for extra money put aside by a colleague earlier in the week as the till draw started to get full. There was no note left to let me know however, so that was a nervous five minutes working out how I could be significantly under on the expected total.

And then I got a call. Bear in mind we’ve only been open half an hour or so by this point. Could you come over to Chertsey to supervise the coder dojo? The person who was going to do so has gone sick. There’s a volunteer to run it but we need you there as someone sensible.

Well there’s a lot to unpack there. The last coding I ever did was visual basic as a database front end some fifteen or more years ago. It also meant that I wouldn’t be there to meet an artist and supervise him putting up an installation, or any number of staff support and management things rapidly pinging on my radar.

On the other hand, what’s the worst that could happen?

It went okay. I stayed hands off and interpreted a few things for the children if they didn’t quite follow the volunteer’s directions – and otherwise managed a number of issues by phone. The kids were happy, the staff were happy, and I discovered new bus routes I was previously unaware of.

I do enjoy a bit of chaos to shake things up, but today was a bit non stop. Let’s see where the pieces I had to drop today ended up…

Wednesday

What do you mean it’s only Wednesday? An awful lot seems to have somehow got crammed in already and yet we’re still not yet quite done with Hump Day?

Today we had flakily working systems and people on both sides of the desk being grumpy – which I suppose is still better than yesterday’s experience of nothing working at all.

Closer to home we had the car in the garage for a service that lasted three days and I’m pretty sure must have involved the sacrifice of a junior engineer from all the mess left over.

It’s going to be one of those weeks, isn’t it? And yet there’s been some good stuff. It hasn’t been universally horrible. I got featured again today by Over40Cosplay on Instagram and Facebook, and I took a photo on the way home that I quite like:

Evening All

I’ve also had a quiet evening of watching Mock The Week from four years ago and enjoying the relative innocence of those times, so I suppose that’s been a good remedy for a week where everything has just felt far more complicated than it has otherwise needed to be.

In other news I’ve pretty much got everything sorted for Valentine’s Day. It’s generally an expensive, or at least complex, set of weeks these days as we navigate VDay, then my birthday, then my anniversary with Lady M, and then my collaring anniversary with myr s. Schedules being what they are I won’t get to catch up with myr s this month, but I do get to cherish Lady M. Next month will just be a complex dance of us all taking weekends in turn and arranging general catch-ups where we can.

At least we’ve finally got round to setting up a shared Google Calendar and now we just have to get into the habit of using and consulting it. These are skills and practices that I had not considered before polyamory. It’s just as well I manage timetables and rotas on a daily basis..!