Quiet Improvements

After the whirlwind of the last few weeks these last few days have been quite pleasant. That’s not to say there haven’t been moments that prompted the odd eye roll, but in general my stress levels have been a lot lower

Mostly that’s because the frenzy of events has finished for a little while, and also because my staff reminded me I can actually give them jobs to do on top of their day to day stuff. This was all wrapped up in a concern for my health that was heartening.

In the meantime I’ve been carrying on with a piece on Allyship that I’m starting to socialise now I’ve got the basic copy done, and have spent an afternoon wrangling accessibility issues. I need to get some more sensitivity reading done but I’m feeling confident in the piece at the moment.

And this evening we had the regular Destiny stream on Lady B’s Twitch where we pretended to be space pirates for a while.

Tomorrow we need to get the cub’s school clothing sorted ahead of the new term in Monday. He is not looking forward to it.

Write-ups and Sign-ins

So, back to work today following my unexpected derailment with a kidney stone yesterday. That was my body telling me to be sensible in hot weather (like the whole of Saturday at Pride and then a glass or two of wine on Sunday). Cue a day of painkillers, a hot water bottle, and the consumption of my own bodyweight in water to flush everything through.

I had (mostly) meetings spread through the day, but also got asked to put my Staff Network hat on to write up the corporate Pride report for the network. It seems to now be an annual tradition to get me to write such things, and as I was halfway through doing something specifically for the library intranet anyway it was only a quick skip and a hop to turn it into something more extensive and stick some photos in there.

That made for a positive end to the day at work, and since then I’ve caught up on TV and started to set up for a second D&D group to run monthly, with some colleagues from work. That’s a nice little side project. With any luck we’ll also be back into the adventures of the DDC this weekend as well.

Busy, busy.

Camberley Pride

I was wearing three metaphorical hats today and no physical ones as a sunny day dawned on Pride in Surrey at Camberley’s Recreation Grounds.

Eight in the morning saw me assembling the library stall as part of a wider group putting together stands in the Surrey County Council marquee and there was very little let up from that point.

My metaphorical hats were those of being one of the Library Group Managers, of being co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Staff Network, and part of my extended polycule as we coordinated various vehicles and modes of transport to get there. Somehow the plate spinning didn’t get out of control and I was able to slip between the competing roles with ease, which was helpful.

The whole day has been amazing – a much bigger site than last year at Godalming and thankfully all on a level rather than the entertaining slopes we coped with previously. The route of the parade was also far longer, weaving through the town and shopping centre before heading through residential streets to the park. Barring one very small group of teenage boys trying to be edgy we also had nothing but support and cheers from the crowds who had turned out. If there were counter-protestors (as had been threatened) they didn’t disrupt or dismay anyone.

Instead I was able to support colleagues, network with politicians and other organisations, mind our library mascot for their appearances, and still spend time with my loved ones and the assorted children we had with us.

We may even have persuaded our political portfolio holder to get his face painted with flowers and he very gamely let us decorate him in celebration of his being a fantastic ally both of libraries and the lgbtq+ community.

I’m home now, footsore, slightly sunburned, but fed and watered. Everyone has been delivered home to where they need to be, and I’m having my last cuppa to round out the day. It’s been a good one, and so’s the cuppa.

Approaching Pride

Even with having a part in preparations for work’s presence at Pride In Surrey this year I’m still feeling unready – but mostly because I’m not sure how I’m actually going to get there. There are train and bus disruptions so I suspect I may have to get a taxi, and this just considering me. Somehow we’ll get the whole Entourage there

In the meantime I have a stack of flags in my bag to use as table cloths on the day. So that’s useful. I need now to start thinking of what I’m going to wear on the day and use as props. To be fair if these are the biggest worried I need to deal with I’ll be fine.

Then next week starts my Leadership training, which I’ve gained access to with my Network Chair role as well as my managing and mentoring a group of managers in the day job. While I’m not expecting anything life changing, I am looking forward to it, and it is already opening doors.

Now, if the anxiety and depression could all nip off down the shops and not come back, that would be helpful.

Knickers Everywhere

We’re starting to gear up for the Jubilee celebrations in the libraries, and I’ve just overheard two of my staff on the phone to each other assuring each other that they’re not copying each other and are doing quite different children’s events and crafts based around the book The Queen’s Knickers.

Independent invention is a wonderful thing, and in this case I know it’s been prompted by hardback deliveries this week of the same books to each library in the area.

At the library I’m currently basing myself from, the focus is on inviting people to decorate a template looking like a set of underwear with whatever colours, patterns, or cut out shapes and pictures they like. The resulting pieces are then being hung up on “washing lines” within the children’s library.

It’s all good fun, and I’ve only had to veto a couple of design choices suggested out of devilment by the staff as they make up some samples to start it all off. I look forward to seeing the collection grow…

And yes, I have contributed a design. Doesn’t seem to be up yet.

Back To Work

As is usually the case my first day back at work was largely spent filtering and triaging the hundreds of emails that had come in while I was away. The wonderful thing was that my steadfast crew of merry pirates had basically got on with being awesome and dealt with most things without any need to do more than just let me know the outcomes.

After filtering those out it left maybe a dozen or so things I needed to take a look at, and of those none required me to hit anyone with a rolled up newspaper. I may have raised an eyebrow at one or two people and asked for clarification, but that’s hardly unusual.

We’ve even managed to sort out some music licences for some planned events, so that’s a big win.

And yet people still look surprised when I tell them I love my job.

People Saying Thanks

It’s very easy to fixate on troublesome or demanding customers, but one positive thing from being on the desks this week has been hearing people say thank you.

Libraries are not just about books. A very large part of what we do is signpost people to other services or sources of information when they’re looking for help. We’re currently involved in a pilot scheme to give staff more tools to answer local authority information questions and it has helped their confidence so much. Here are three interactions I’ve witnessed or been part of this week:

From a lady who had just been helped with a bus pass renewal for herself and her husband and then a follow-on query about Covid 4th Booster rules and advice: “The young lady here has been very helpful and saved us a lot of time trying to ring round to find all this out, she’s been very good.”

From a gentleman who had enquiries about bins and recycling rotas in his area: “Oh thank you, I just can’t make sense of any of it, just get confused – you’ve explained that so well.”

From a gentleman who was in with his family, asking about local schools admissions: “Thank you, we wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for all this. You’ve saved us so much time.”

I think it’s important to acknowledge the good along with the challenging.

Skeleton Crew

I still feel absolutely drained and am aching from Covid but have been mostly working front line this week in support of my amazing staff who have themselves been stricken in close succession by the new variant.

Their cheerful pragmatism has reminded me yet again of how lucky I am to work with and manage people dedicated to their communities and to helping everyone to the best of their abilities.

As might be expected with customer centric services, it hasn’t been without its challenges, but the support we have in turn received both from our own management, and from the public, has raised spirits as we’ve pressed on.

Even in hard and stressful weeks like this, I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else, no matter how much I might grumble in the moment

Still Bunged Up

This cold is stubbornly hanging on and seriously disrupting my sleep. I am at least managing to avoid the worst of the grumpiness that might otherwise be expected. That’s just as well as I’m in the middle of interviewing people for a role – what’s the worst that could happen?

Fortunately a good thing that has happened has been the delivery of new arts and crafts materials that we’re distributing out to the wider library network. These will help staff create displays and activities for a wide range of events – and it was great fun checking items and posting them out.

So here’s hoping for an easier night, better breathing, and a smooth day tomorrow.

A Pause

I’m taking a pause to let myself be unwell today. I’ve been trying to ignore a gathering headcold but have decided to do what I keep telling my staff, which is to be sensible and kind to myself so I can recover more quickly.

There’s a lot going on at work that I’m really proud and excited by, and I can’t wait to quietly gush as they come to fruition. The most rewarding part of my job sometimes is seeing the jigsaw pieces slot into place or in being able to arrange for new tools or opportunities for people.

The last week has been full of those moments, including access to stock photo archives and display making resources that have previously been unavailable to staff. It sounds a small thing, but we spend so much time making displays to inform and entice that these are incredibly useful and timesaving.

As stressful as it sometimes is, I love my job.