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.
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.
Back to work on a Saturday and so far there have been comments about sick on a carpet that turned out to be a water pipe leak, a query about lone working for a teenager in a quiet library, the payroll/HR system not being available, and the sun shining straight in my eyes while I’m on a call. A pretty ordinary morning so far then. I’m usually senior cover in my libraries about once a month and by far the most noticeable thing about that is that the geographical range of things that I get pinged about is more diverse. This is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination as it keeps me aware of the wider state of how things are going rather than just on my patch. It’s also generally not an onerous duty as the staff are proactive and engaged and usually just need a nod to continue.
The building I work in is one of those radio shadow lattices from all the metal in its construction that plays merry havoc with mobile signals – which includes the official wifi – and so connectivity for me in this location has become a matter of hotspots via strategically positioned work mobiles and uncapped data tariffs. Never underestimate the creativity of library staff to overcome data issues.
My challenge for this evening is to not forget that I have counselling – unlike a fortnight ago where I got caught up in watching something on TV and then realised I’d missed the whole thing and saw the reminder texts from an increasingly concerned counsellor that I hadn’t seen because I normally have my phone on silent. Oops.
Everything was a bit of a complicated rush first thing this morning, with missed calls from nurses, bus routes diverted, and a cub unearthed from his bed just for starters. What it settled into, however, was a day of mentoring a new colleague and looking to future plans for the possible relocation of one of my libraries.
For the most part, today consisted of talking through experiences as a new group manager, and assembling a crib list of useful people to get to know. We also discussed the existential question of what, exactly, our jobs are. This is always a surprisingly useful thing to do for affirming common concerns and goals, as well as acknowledge the wife range of pastoral elements involved in our roles.
And then I had to dive home quickly to be back in time for the cub to get to the flat. I fed and watered him until Lady M was home, and then went and retrieved boy s so I could end the day with everyone settled in their own homes.
A simpler day is planned for tomorrow. We’ll see how that pans out.
I know my place of work wouldn’t begrudge me taking more recovery time but I don’t feel its needed and I’d rather not tap that good will unless or until I need it. With that in mind I dove back to it and soon caught up on what was going on. I then only needed to suggest a couple of course directions and affirmations to the team. That was when the consultations started.
I’ve got a reasonably high profile at the moment. I run the biggest group of libraries, and have fostered and encouraged engagements with local groups to build up our offers and develop innovative ways of working in addition to the core library services. I’m also vocal and proactive on equality and diversity issues and initiatives.
As a result I’ve started to be the ‘go to’ person for opinions and signposting on related queries, and have just been asked if I mind deputising in as EDI service representative for the libraries. If it helps people and opens doors and opportunities for fairer services then I’m there. If nothing else it’s something that’s close to my heart.
I ended up running one of my libraries solo this afternoon as the person scheduled to be there was taken ill. It was quite gentle really, and in some ways reassuring that I haven’t quite lost my grip on the nitty gritty of customer service work.
It was good to be able to just talk to customers and be a simple friendly soul as a contrast to the plate-spinning expert I often have to be these days. It didn’t stop me processing recruitment paperwork and sorting out meeting with some potential partner organisations, but it was almost a spa day, returning to the basics like that. It was almost a shame how quickly closing time rolled round.
True to form, as you might expect, there may have been some doodling between phonecalls, customers, and bouts of shelvng:
I’ve left them to bemuse the staff due there in the morning.
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.
Today started a bit frantically as I picked up various emails from yesterday, but I soon got things settled, and had a conversation or two to address some not-so-hidden elephants. So all in all not a bad day.
Tomorrow will be busy with a variety of things, not least of which will be interviewing people who want to work for me, or at least are looking for jobs and don’t object to me being their manager (hello imposter syndrome) – oh and apparently there’s a photoshoot booked for a project launch in the building so there’s that too.
–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.