Polling Day

–Edit– This was meant to be published on the 7th May, but for some reason it lurked in my drafts folder until now…

It was a very very long day yesterday, starting before dawn outside one of my libraries as a small cluster of people I’d never met before gathered, bundled up against the morning cold. Eventually the person who had arranged this meeting appeared and I let them all in.

Not the start of a mystery novel, but rather the start of a day of local elections – and I’d agreed to let this library be used as the local polling station. I ran through all the building access and fire safety information, including how to lock up, and after an hour of helping to shift some furniture I was on my way.

A full day at another library, and a significant portion of that was spent meeting the new supervisor for the cleaning contractors and bringing them up to speed on issues and priorities, and then it was back to the first library to check up on the election.

They said they were happy to lock up, but I agreed to be on standby as I lived locally – and so my day ended a little after midnight.

Today I need coffee. Lots of coffee. I am very tired. I am dealing with today’s storms in teacups. All will be well.

Just Ambling Along

Today has mostly been spent on rotas and preparing for opening up more options for people visiting our libraries next week. The restructure continues apace, and people are naturally worried, so I’m trying as best as possible to continue at a steady pace.

In the meantime I’ve put up a few more designs on the Amazon UK store – most notably one based on the sketch of Odif I showcased the other day. There’s now colour and a bit of rendering, and almost universally I’ve had people saying very kind things and asking for links. So to that end:

The Odif T-Shirt

You’re welcome, and I look forward to how the DDC adapts to their new travelling companion. I suppose I should finish off a couple of maps I’ve got in development. I’m off on Friday, that looks a good goal.

On Edge

I have a job interview tomorrow and I’ve spent all day reviewing and revising documentation while also preparing a presentation on expected challenges

It’s an internal post that has come up during the restructure, and so if nothing else its a good practice run for the application for my own post that I have to do at the end of this week.

And that’s about all I care to say about it all at this point because I’m frazzled and anxious and my perfectionist side is warring with my confidence to wing it in much the same way as it battles when I prep for one of the weekend games.

So if you know me and think I’m being quiet, that’s the reason why. It’s been a busy week between the mental health first aider assessment, the Sunday game, and this interview. That’s not even mentioning the day job. Oh well. Wish me luck!

Well, Not Technically Wrong

I was rather pleased with being able to get a simple but effective display up in one of my libraries marking LGBT+ History Month. I was even more pleased at the positive feedback from staff and public. Even more so that it has inspired at least one more colleague to start their own.

Today I was informed by a member of staff that we had received congratulations and thanks from a member of the public for our support of the NHS.

With a waved hand towards the display.

Not pictured, any NHS logo

My colleague resorted to the tried and tested nod and smile technique. We do indeed support the NHS. The multiple LGBT+ History Month signs and logos might as well have been invisible.

Life’s too short to be anything other than amused, but I may have quietly rolled my eyes at the confirmation that people just don’t read signs.

All Ending In Tiers

I couldn’t resist the joke.

Within ten minutes of the announcement of Surrey going in to Tier 3 restrictions I had people coming in wanting to grab as many books as possible. They were afraid we were about to close our doors.

Thankfully I was in a position to be able to tell them that while they were very welcome to carry as many books as they could, we would be remaining open so they could relax. Our existing precautions and spaces, along with the fact we don’t serve food or drink meant we don’t need to alter the service we provide.

There was much relief, and slightly less worry as a result.

I have one more day of work and then I’m off until after Christmas. I feel I’ve earned the break.

Jawdrop Moment

I was shelving books the other day, and was approached by a customer, book in hand. Nothing unusual there, it’s part and parcel of my daily work routine.

The customer wanted to know if we had the latest book by the author they had just finished reading – which was a bit of a problem because they held in their hand The Quarry – the last book written by Iain Banks before his death in 2013.

I gently broke it to them that this wouldn’t be possible – barring an upcoming non fiction work due out next year based on his notes and drawings around his Culture series of books. I thought that perhaps this was what they meant when they asked after his next book

And this is where the conversation wandered sideways a little: I was berated for keeping the books of a dead man on the shelves if there weren’t going to be any more books by them.

I’d love to say that I had the presence of mind to sassily spread my arms to encompass the many, many works by dead people on our shelves, but they turned on their heel and walked out, leaving the book on top of the desk beside us before I could gather my wits.

I love working with the public, and sometimes it is precisely because of the surreal conversations I have with them.

Oh, The Usual Chaos

We’ve been able to reopen the libraries for browsing by the public, so its nice to see that most of the requests this morning have been to use the photocopier. Given that yesterday we started the consultation phase for a new restructure, that may only be a moderately salty comment.

I read through the documentation, rushed through the seven stages of grief and then got on with the day because I’ve always found there’s two things that help put things in perspective: being actually very busy with customers and their enquiries, and the sudden and unexpected death of a colleague’s relative.

Compared to that, my minor grumps are very small beans indeed.

Decking The Halls

Yes, I know it’s not yet (quite) December, but its been a horrible year so letting people start to get creative in their decorations is an important morale booster.

At the libraries this week this has led to innovative thought on how to use scrap materials to brighten the place up. We want to welcome people in as we leave lockdown.

So I’ve been both encouraging people to come up with ideas, and leading the charge – and yes, I may be a bit proud of what is starting to take a hold in our little cluster of libraries this week.

Here’s a couple of examples as we get started…

Fiction Fragment: Quiet Please

Few places are as simultaneously comforting and intimidating at once as a good library – or indeed an evil one, come to think of it. The shelves of books are an immovable presence radiating both the call of old friends, and the uncertain promise of new people met at a rather sedate party. Either way you’re not entirely certain as to what will happen next.

The bustle of libraries, full of children, has been firmly quenched in these covid lockdown days, and more’s the pity. Instead we have a return to the deep silence that has always underpinned these places. Despite the faint traffic noise that sometimes murmurs and hisses in the background there is now a quiet and stillness that some find unnerving.

Those who remark on it sometimes say that the silence is expectant, and it makes them want to fill that awful void in an otherwise frenetic soundscape. I think that tells us as much about how uncomfortable they are with their thoughts in the quiet as any statement by the librarians; even if that statement is a simple “Shhhhhh!”

An Apprentice Appears

It sounds like the title to some High Fantasy Detective novel, but in this case its actually a work post. We’ve taken on some young apprentices at the library as part of a structured course; and today I met the one assigned to our neck of the woods (mostly because where they were due to be working is currently having its floor dug up, but that’s another story)

I don’t say this lightly, but so far I’m impressed. They’ve had previous retail and customer service experience and it shows. For their sins they’ve got to work with me again tomorrow, so there will be some interesting dynamics at play, with a very young set of people and varying degrees of motivation.

What’s the worst that could happen?