When I tell people we’re getting to renovate and extend our library their first reaction is “wow, that’s amazing, you’re so lucky!”. And yes, prima facie it is so. But right now it’s feeling rather overwhelming. And ironically most of that is not so much to do with the change as the amount of preparation that needs to be done. Speaking of change – you HAVE to get “Bug in a Vacuum”
I am a veteran of moving. 10 countries in 24 years plus countless internal moves in those countries and 3 moves in the last 5 years. I know it pays to be prepared and to clean and clear before the move. And as I remarked in my last post, a lot of that cleaning and clearing happens behind the scene. Things are slightly more complicated as well due to well, life. Unforeseen circumstances. Like one staff member on maternity and another on hospitalisation leave. And part of my gratitude thoughts each day are for my remaining staff member who is picking up a lot of the slack and the temporary staff member who is happy to learn the ropes and keep things ticking over. And the other temp who has been coming in and the occasional parent or volunteer for their kindness. But it does slow things down as we adapt and learn.
So, significant but time consuming things that have been done this week – including taking up time in my weekends – those weekends that I thought would be computer and work free now that I’ve finished my M.Ed!
- Putting patron photos into FollettDestiny – easy in theory but quite a lot of preparation work – including learning all sorts of new Excel tricks on how to add things before and after text in cells! And of course 90% goes well, but the 10% that bombs out, takes 90% of your time to trace why an upload didn’t work, what went wrong and how to remedy it.
- Cleaning up patron data. After the last patron update I found about nine pages of patron data that just wasn’t right. Parents marked as students or staff, students who had left years ago, staff who had left, incorrect emails etc. Now bear in mind, when I prepare these lists, I then go into school with a full teaching schedule and it literally took 2 people 2 days to clear it all up in-between their regular tasks of circulation, shelving and THE PREP
- Yes, the PREP. we have 9 different grades from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6, and each of those have 4 (Kindergarten) -6 (the rest) UOIs. The library has to be vacated by next Friday. Most UOI’s are changing over on Monday coming. Many UOIs have changed this year. So that means checking the central idea etc. checking previous year’s lists, quickly checking with the lead that my understanding of where the topic /theme / concept is going is the same as theirs, making new lists and then packing up 18 boxes of books and DVDs – 9 for the coming week when we’ll have over 1000 books returned from the last units and 9 for the first weeks of January 2017 – just in case. Because of course our handover of an empty library to the designers / constructors is 1 December and of course their hand-back to us is 1 January. But I am of little faith that things are flawless. So I err on the side of caution. And bear in mind, we’re still having our 35 classes a week, plus all sorts of meetings that are using the library so we’re configuring and reconfiguring the space and arranging catchup classes…
- The new books. And the wrongly processed books. I still hold vestiges of anger on our last big book order with Follett that went horribly wrong in every which way it could have gone wrong. They didn’t deliver on time or as arranged, they catalogued incorrectly, spine labels were wrong etc. So we’re still sorting out that mess. And then I put in a couple of other smaller orders, but our cataloguer is off on hospitalisation leave so we’re cataloging on the fly. Now this is a GOOD thing I keep on telling myself. I’m all for final responsibility for tasks and work flow, but I’m also all for everyone pitching in and helping and knowing all aspects of the process. It’s been a little peeve of mine in the library world that there is so much segregation of duties and these past weeks have just proven that given the chance people can do way more than they or anyone else may have thought. But it is extra work – did I mention what else was going on?
- The weeding. Saying goodbye is so hard to do! I must admit having absolutely no problems ditching the disney fairy series that no-one was looking at or borrowing. But then there are other books – Michael Rosen’s “Sad”. I’m sad that no-one seems to have ever borrowed that. And I feel bad that I’ve not marketed it, or allowed it to see the light of day and be nurtured and treasured. Perhaps if I pair it with Bug in a Vacuum? Weeding is sweet sorrow. It highlights our failings as book pushers. I feel like a neglectful parent when a book that’s been bought doesn’t get the attention it needs. I spend time with each of them and ponder whether putting them on a resource list would help. (No jokes about “will this bring me or someone else joy) Or perhaps asking students and teachers to ponder their fate. And I do both, and some survive for another day.
- Acquisition plan – my kids ask me “if we’re getting a new library does that mean we’re getting new books?” This is the double edged sword of money and budget. I was talking to some fellow librarians last week – their budgets are double mine. Sometimes less is more. Our students and our teachers probably only have capacity for perhaps one really good reading book a week. Each. What should that book be? And for research / nonfiction? It’s so hard. I try so hard, but this week it has been stingrays and grasshoppers. Boats and jet planes. Last week it was fast cars and how to make your own vegetable garden (try getting one of those for an equatorial climate, suitable for G2 level), dinosaurs are totally out of favour. They want tornados and not hurricanes. And “Miss where are your Indian books?” and “there’s nothing on Bangladesh” I’m trying to diversify. They deserve Indian books, and overseas Chinese but not ABC (American born Chinese) books, and Korean protagonists and Japanese heroes. The triplet sister of acquisition and weeding is discoverability. I need to crack that nut in the new library. Does that mean genrefying, through label or location? Does it mean more work on resource lists or libguides or other pathfinders?
The problem with grappling with all these things is that they take up a lot of brainspace and thought space and discussion space. All of which is being take up by doing. I’m looking forward to the library being boxed up and having time to be more strategic, having time to go into classrooms and observe and understand.
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