Shut Down

Yesterday was exhausting due to a number of people going sick, but in general it was still just as rewarding. There are so many young families rediscovering the libraries and hearing the laughter of small children back in the library has been uplifting.

We were going to game this evening, but general exhaustion and lack of spoons led to us deciding to have a night off – so I’ve been making random spare battlemaps on www.inkarnate.com that may end up being used, or may not. I’ll add copies to this site in the next few days.

Meanwhile, here’s some pretty dice that arrived this afternoon:

Clicky-clacky

New Job

I can, at last, announce that my interview the other day as part of our restructure was successful. I am going to become the group manager for our local libraries. This means I’m effectively replacing my existing boss, who is shuffling sideways to another area in search of new challenges.

All very exciting.

The biggest goals ahead are to finish the rest of the restructure, and to continue reopening our services to our communities and partner organisations. In doing so I want to expand the range of organisations we work with, and become much more inclusive and cooperative in planning the services and use of spaces that we have.

Fair to say the brains of myself and colleagues/staff are fizzing in contemplation. In addition I’m now styling myself as the King in the North (of Surrey) and will be setting the Saturday staff tomorrow the challenge of designing me a new throne out of spare acrylic stands and withdrawn bookstock. This is probably a joke.

I hate sitting on good news, but it was only fair to wait until everyone who had been interviewed or involved had been contacted and updated. I may have shared a bottle of rioja with Lady M last night in celebration.

Onward!

Bemused Moments

Sometimes, when I have an idle moment, I cast an eye out at the carpark outside my current library (we rotate between sites mostly, it feels sometimes, to annoy the staff) and I marvel at the parking skills on display.

My particular favourite in the loosest sense of the word today was the SUV that was half parked across one and a half disabled bays. By half parked, I mean only the front half of his vehicle was in the chevrons surrounding it, leaving the rest poking out and blocking egress for any other vehicle that wanted to leave.

He’d just dived in you see, and not being disabled he didn’t want to take up a marked disabled bay. So he blocked everything and two disabled bays at once. I did point out the free parking on the other side of the road that was totally empty but by then he was fleeing with his child’s reserved books.

Couldn’t make it up…

Utter Delight

Most of my messages to people today have been to convey my absolute delight with the reactions of young children to the library today.

The message that most sums up the experience of today was: “I have had just the cutest youngsters in today having their minds blown by all the books available – toddlers that were last here as babies for rhymetime now being able to walk round, touch books, big smiles and wide eyes.”

It has melted my heart and brought joy to all – a memory I shall treasure

Reopening Day

I’m exhausted, but it is a good exhausted, because today was our first day back open to the public rather than running a click and collect service. It felt entirely appropriate that the first people through the door were a couple of toddlers and their mum.

It was pretty much non-stop from there. It was wonderful, hearing families back in the building. A good busy day that just flew by.

Back for more tomorrow then

Dirty Hands, Empty Cupboard

We’re due to reopen for browsing next week so I took advantage of a slow day to tackle the cupboard containing our main electrics board and the gas supply stopcock – as you do. No spiders or accumulations of building debris from renovation work would stay my hand from discarding mouse-nibbled bits of carpet or cleaning off plastic children’s chairs.

As an added bonus to passing the time, it meant I could organise the contents so that it was a) safe b) not blocking access to important things c) improve fire safety and d) put things we needed in easy reach rather than the subject of intensive explorations to uncover.

I’m rather proud of today’s efforts.

Gently Pausing

Another week, and as I was working on Saturday today was a short morning – that was mostly spent sorting out rotas. We’ve started sharing the duties out on that as the restructure starts shifting management around. No great dramas to report there.

I did drop by another library on the way home though. We’re starting to think about how to safely restart public events as restrictions drop, and I’d promised a couple of staff at this one that I would drop in on the way home.

While some libraries have in the past used CD players while running things like rhymetime this has not been the case here, so the staff were unsure about appropriate songs or lyrics to use. I promised to bring my old folder of songs round for them to copy. It was also a good excuse to stop in and have a gossip with my co-manager who was on-site today.

So, not a lot done, but it felt productive. With that and sorting out laundry when I got home it has been a nice pause.

Writing Nice Things

One of my colleagues has been working for the library for some 25 years now, and it’s always good to mark these things. My boss was nudged to write nice things to celebrate this and so this morning I received a plea for help in composing it. The email was titled: “R Citation”

The original call was for reminiscences but being the garrulous soul I am, I ended up with the following (slightly edited to preserve identities):

I must have been talking to too many Americans as the first thought on seeing ‘R Citation’ in the Subject was to wonder what she’d done now…

First impressions of R were of someone watchful and no nonsense – and then I got to know her and the sheer dryness of her humour was a joy. If we were busy we were given time and space to just get on with it – and if we weren’t then things could be found.

These days when asked to quickly describe R I use words and phrases like “bundle of energy”, “leaping into action”, and “don’t leave old paperwork around or it’ll go in the bin”. R is passionate about her work and about the library service. Watching her work is a lesson in managing to sprint along the tightrope between maintaining strict boundaries with the public, and going above and beyond the extra mile in pursuit of customer care. R’s distinctive voice and genuine interest in the people around her make her truly memorable to the people she meets and works with. Perhaps that’s the key to summing up R: she cares.

R has always been a kind and intuitive listener, even if – as she’ll be the first to tell you – she doesn’t always use the right words. I am now well used to phone-calls asking me to check over draft emails; asked to help turn direct and unvarnished language into considered and not-quite-so inflammatory directives. One of these days I’m sure she will produce some of the original drafts of her emails while writing her memoirs, and we can look forward to the series of explosions across the land.

R’s dedication to fitness is legendary, with swimming, running, and bottles of wine all being regular conquests in the race to keep ahead of the demands of work, family, and escape attempts by family pets. The sight of her bike propped up in Staines Library’s back rooms or corridors has often brought a smile when considering the pile of parcels delivered from Amazon that will then need to be carefully balanced on the return journey.

Perhaps the greatest testament to R is that when you mention her name, people’s faces light up. That’s a rare gift.

So, unsurprisingly my boss has said she’ll probably just use what I wrote. Perhaps I should send a mock invoice.

A Day of Lightness

I was back to work for the first time in three weeks today, at least for the afternoon anyway, and it was nice to be able to catch up with people and feel a little more grounded back in reality.

Most of the conversations were of course surrounding how well Lady M is recuperating, and its been lovely to be able to report the total rejuvenation and new lease of life she has. Her own interactions with her work place have had her smiling about her job and pretty much everything for the first time in years.

And an added cherry on top is that I’m now booked in for my first covid vaccine jab on Monday next week. So all’s well that ends well today.

Decorating with Rainbows

February is LGBT+ History Month, so I’ve spent a portion of today decorating a library’s windows with flags and logos. As we’re largely closed to the public we can’t do our usual approach of book displays and historical posters, so I’ve improvised.

There are some nice packs of flags and bunting available on Amazon for reasonable prices so I grabbed one to provide the base elements for display.

The subject theme for this year is Mind, Body, and Spirit – a focus on mental health and support – so a raid on the shelves is imminent to build it properly.