A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone

April 9, 2007 at 10:57 am (librarians, libraries, Rubbish managers)

I have a whopping great budget to spend on new stock as part of the renovation of the library. I have spent some time setting up suppliers and writing policies regarding the selection of stock, and the weeding of existing stock and have started to order. My boss has no idea about this. I know this because I arrived at work this morning to this e-mail from him

“I was rather disappointed to hear from the bursar that you had only spent about $15,000 dollars. Can we talk about this please? Can you come to the meeting with a plan?”

Had the man been able to read a spreadsheet, he would have realised that we have a number of orders which have been placed but which we have not yet been invoiced. Short of me going to the suppliers in person and ringing the stuff up on the till, I cannot make them invoice any faster, especially as the school will not put me down as contact name for the orders. Instead they put down the head of maintenance, for all orders, so when I try and chase things up I get a “I have already spoken to Mr. Eddee about this La” and no further information.

As for the $15,000, he has made that up. I have actually spent $58,477.92 from the– New Library materials budget and have completely spent the Information centre budget of $25,000, well actually I have spent $2,000 more that we have from that budget – that he would be justified in telling me off about but not for spending too little.

Firstly, my boss knows nothing about running a library, nothing. His suggestion is that I buy some books. I am reassured he also offers the counsellor equally valid advice (“Have you tried talking to her?” )  Secondly I am fuming as I feel he’s brought my professional judgement into question, thirdly I am furious that he felt it was Ok to tell me off via e-mail copying in three other people and finally I am full of rightous indignation that he was wrong. He told me off and was wrong. I’ll take a telling off if I deserve it BUT HE WAS WAS WRONG.



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“I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood.”

February 9, 2007 at 4:49 pm (Cardigans, libraries, Pants)

Monsoon season has passed and there is now a distinct nip in the air (Is that politically correct to mention in South East Asia?) We are now down to the mid seventies. I have been reduced to wearing a cardigan and whining about the air conditioning. Luckily I have several cardigans (the uniform of librarians everywhere. It’s how we recognise each other) and  the maintenance men in school have been very understanding.

The temperature of the library is controlled centrally. I understand anyone reading this from the six inches of snow currently smothering the UK will have limited sympathy but even though the temperature outside here is in the high twenties, baby it’s cold inside. The air con is so high my nose is running.

After weeks of prolonged moaning, I got an e-mail from maintenance yesterday where they told me they “will be installing a temperature Control knob inside the Library within this week, so you can fiddle & adjust the temperature setting at your finger tip. Hope this will help a lot.”

I shouldn’t take the piss, after four months here I can still only say thank you in Bahasa Melayu (the local language) but I am loving the idea of having my own knob in the library that I can fiddle with. This appears to be killing two birds with one stone.

 I did hate to make a fuss about the air con but I’ll be buggered if I moved all the way to
Asia to still wear vests. Although I did stock up when I was back and have a rather nice selection being posted out to me. This will come as a welcome relief as the ones I had here were ironed by my amah. Who she thinks sees my vests is beyond me, well other than maintenance but that’s a whole other post completely.

Unfortunately along with ironing boards here which only have one setting which is knee height as standard (not as weird as it sounds, so are the Filipino amah’s) the irons only have one setting which is hot, hot, hot (in contrast to the washing machine which has one setting which is cold, cold, cold) Due to the fabric of my underwear and the heat of the iron they have now shrunk and they appear to be the right size for a Barbie doll.

Now if only I could arrange for my body to do the same I would no longer have to suffer the humiliation of going into a shop and asking the shop assistant if they have *anything* in my size? Giggle, giggle, stop dead, sad shake of head, no ma’am being the standard response.
Damn you tiny Asian women.

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“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”

February 9, 2007 at 4:14 pm (librarians, libraries)

So coming up to six months in sunny South East Asia and I have started to notice now that the things I thought were odd, like curry for breakfast without having been on a bender the night before all appear perfectly normal now and not worthy of note any more. How quickly the novelty wears off. Work is work, I am still a school librarian in a country where books are inaccessible and for the most part unwanted. I’m working hard against the culture but I’m not sure I’m actually achieving anything.

I fear the repeated banging of my head against the brick wall but on the plus side I am eager to find out how good it feels when it all stops.

On Wednesday, the books I ordered in October turned up . See, it’s perfectly normal here to order something, pay in advance and then not see sight nor sound of it for the best part of four months. The best bit about that is it might be with the company you’ve ordered it from alternatively it might be in the big empty room in school that maintenance store their parcels in. I’m not sure why they store them there rather that just (whacked out idea ahead) delivering them to the right room, but when ever you mention this to someone who has been here longer than a month, they just shake there head sadly and sigh “Yes Ma’am”.

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Committed to Libraries

February 1, 2007 at 3:02 pm (librarians, libraries)

As Simon Heffer, in the Telegraph writes,

I am a committed libertarian. It is why I write here, week in, week out about the need for the small state, low taxation, the diminution of welfarism and the promotion of individual responsibility.

 That was much more relevant when I thought he was a librarian.

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I have a fantasy, he says, of a librarian.

January 28, 2007 at 1:19 am (librarians, libraries)

I was wandering through glitter for brains this morning when I stumbled across this post.

“Japanese tourists. Why on Earth do they feel the need to catalogue every moment of their trip? I have seen them videoing menu cards. I have seen them photographing toilets. Why? Why the need for such excruciating detail? I have a theory that the Japanese were put on this world to catalogue every possible detail. Possibly in case the world should end. And possibly because they want to put in an insurance claim”

I suspect it is possibly because they are frustrated librarians. They feel the need catalogue, then archive.

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