Spinning Wheels

Like an overrevved car with smoking wheels, the week has managed that age old trick of standing still and generating a lot of noise and motion – but somehow still isn’t over. I actually had that moment of being genuinely shocked this afternoon that it was only Thursday.

Between running round helping boy s gather things for his new flat, various illnesses, and general stresses with work deadlines it has been packed. I’ve had conversations around outreach opportunities with partner organisations ; talked about potential Arts Council funded events for the future; focused on further recruitment; and generally steered and pushed things as only a library manager can.

There’s a lot there, but as a lot of it is kind of setting things up rather than necessarily delivering discrete results, I think it hasn’t felt as productive as it has. I suppose it could be worse, but it has felt at times like an extended anxiety rush with added heartburn. But hey, there’s still Friday to look forward to.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Back to Work

Ah Monday, and the inevitable panic after nearly two weeks of remembering passwords and hoping they haven’t expired. I did, and they hadn’t, so that was nice.

The first words one of my managers (and by this I mean managers working for me) said to me was: “have you lost weight?” – given the amount of time exploding from one end or the other I’d be very surprised if I hadn’t lost a few pounds. Always nice to see the sunny side of these things.

The theme of new tech continued too, with a new work phone – so in between emails and phonecalls I’ve begun the solemn duty of subverting the kit to my requirements. Should keep me busy in downtime for a bit.

I’ve also been digitally painting again, taking advantage of the touchscreen and tablet mode offered by my new laptop – I have no idea what it is, but I’m rather pleased with how it’s going

I think it needs more eyes

All’s Well…

We carried on with interviews today and it’s been wonderful to be able to offer posts to two people at the end of it all. It was a nice contrast to some more serious and unpleasant things I had to attend to as well today.

Generally through the household it’s been a complex day hit by tech issues, weather, and unforgettable cherubs banned and/or carted off by security.

A long day, but we have the windows cracked to hear the rain outside, and I’m only mildly wondering how many reports of leaky roofs I’m going to hear in the morning…

Interviewing Again?

In a dance that is now very familiar I’m mostly interviewing for posts replacing some people who left last month. Employment churn is always a little higher than usual after a restructure, largely because people who are nearer retirement often see it as the final push as they see everything changing, or when their own circumstances have changed.

Today we had six people through the doors, and I have another four to see tomorrow so we’ve broken the back of it and it shouldn’t take too long to finalise our decisions. In theory that can then clear the decks so i can focus on the next three.

Why not do all five at once? Well mostly so that I can focus the interviews by location and make sure that the branch manager is actively involved in the process of building their new team. It’s especially important as so many of my team of managers are themselves pretty new in post and I want to use these interviews as a training exercise as well so that they have the confidence to lead next time.

We’ve had two people withdraw from tomorrow’s list, so at least that frees up the morning a bit so I can keep on top of the many other bits and pieces spinning at the moment.

Never a dull moment

A Moment of Lightness

With new staff starting this week, some dynamics have of course shifted a little, and I was pleasantly surprised at lunchtime to hear something from the staffroom that I’ve not heard in a while: happy people. There was laughter, even.

It took me a moment even to place it, what with the blur of change and stress that covid and restructures and new systems have put on people. But there it was: a lightness of tone in people’s voices, laughter, and a general relaxation even if just in that moment.

Here’s to more to come.

Well, That Was Amazing

Somehow we managed to get not only the polycule but some friends and acquaintances all together at Pride In Surrey in Godalming yesterday. What a day!

I made sure to find appropriate flags, a Pride gamers tshirt, and went to town on the beard with coloured hairspray to match the bi-flag. I got a lot of compliments, and I thanked my stars for the experience of creating my Obadiah Stane cosplay and the beard dyeing required for that.

We had to get there early as I was in the Parade, so we split and arranged a meetup point for later. I eventually found the way to the assembly area, chatting with various random people along the way. It wasn’t the most precise staging and organisation in the world but it felt appropriately anarchic for Pride’s origins – and soon enough we were winding our way up along Godalming’s High Street

It was my first Parade, and it felt good to be in good company and an atmosphere mixing joy, protest, and representation. Surrounded by work colleagues, associated organisations, and family groups, we brought colour and noise and cheering to a normally very sleepy small Surrey town.

What was heartwarming was the support along the high street from families and businesses alike. People of all ages and backgrounds wanting to see what was going on, and cheering along. It was all a very strange, as in unfamiliar, experience – and one that I want to be part of again – with extra performance next time.

Even slightly grey and misty weather didn’t dampen anyone’s mood, and in the polycule we spent a good few hours taking turns to venture out in small groups from our blankets and bags base to explore and meet people.

We may have bought more gin.

What was also wonderful was that there was a quiet section set away for young families which included stalls for support services and advice on health. The library was well represented, as were a number of other areas of both the County and Local Government organisations, staffed by volunteers.

I’d love to see more participation by other areas and teams, so I plan to advocate for that for next time – even off duty my brain keeps looking for improvements.

Long day short, a great day, especially coming out the other side of lockdown and pandemic, and especially with so many other Pride events cancelled. As I said to one of our Councillors: its a good start.

Meetings and Inspirations

It’s always nice to get away from the daily details of work and do some more strategic planning and preparation. There’s a lot of day to day detail that my team have taken on and excelled at under difficult conditions.

Today that freed me to meet with colleagues from other organisations and to praise everyone’s hard work to senior management.

In only a few short months since the restructure we’ve managed to deliver events and innovative partnership pilots in ways that have drawn praise and notice. That was how I ended up brought in to start discussions on how we can deliver against strategic targets and develop best practice and mentorship on how we’ve been operating.

No pressure…

Fair to say I’m a bit fired up from the day. I may have got on my soapbox a couple of times.

Mobile Anarchist Librarians

I’ve just finished the second of two days hosting the amazing Mobile Anarchist Librarian show which is touring with us this month. Created by Tessa Bide Productions the show encourages young guests to join in a theatrical exploration of stories and encourages them to take an active part in choosing how those stories develop and end up.

We’ve had two days filled with joy and imagination and the sound of families having fun – and it has made all the difference in raising the mood of everyone. The actors and crew worked incredibly hard in collaboration with staff at the sites on each day and I’m so pleased and proud of them all.

They’ve been long days, but a great example of working with partners. I even got adopted and given a badge of my own.

Hello There Weekend

Nice weather on a Friday? Oh good, that made for a nice lunchbreak, and then as good an excuse as any to go check in on one if the other sites that was having a few problems with their heating.

All’s well that ends the second week of the new job. There’s been more of a sense of moving with purpose and a team starting to cohere – with only the usual number of roadbumps along the way.

I also had a chance to check in on how my parents are doing by way of a conveniently timed phonecall – even with Tuesday’s news they’re in good spirits, and I was able to cheer my mum up with some anecdotes about current challenges. That was a nice interlude.

And now to the weekend. I’m on call so can’t do anything particularly outrageous tomorrow, but at least I can enjoy the sun on my balcony.

Getting Organised

I had a moment this afternoon of sudden clarity and managed to get some things sorted out that will help make life at work a bit more streamlined for people. Suddenly I was doing something proactive rather than reactive and it was a lovely moment of feeling that I might be getting a handle on things after all.

To be fair, it has been an odd day, with reports of broken keysafes, vomiting children, and rogue pigeons in library spaces today. Fortunately these have all been in different libraries, but as I’ve the brief for all of them they all got funnelled my way. My staff dealt with each issue with aplomb and humour and I’m very lucky to have such versatile talents working for me.

I guess this counts as a moment of job satisfaction? Off in search of the next challenge…