Monday, May 13, 2013

If I Were King of the Library!

I like the sound of this title. This could be a handsome new series of blog posts. If I were king of the library indeed! I'm all for it. But, as befits a series, instead of getting all sweeping and exhaustive, I start out with one modest, well, almost modest, kingly decree, perhaps a bit mundane, but perhaps a bit foundational as well.

Here is my decree: 

Every employee in the building shall shelve materials for one hour every day they work.

Kings, Pages, Librarians, Board Members, Custodians, Computer Operators, Clerks, and Regional Managers all. It shall be the tithe and the fundament. So it is decreed this date etc. etc.

Here is the fine print and details:

1. This is prorated at a rate of 8 hours scheduled to 1 hour shelving. If, for instance, you work a 4 hour shift your shelving tithe will be 30 minutes. There is a minimum though of 15 minutes shelving, so if you are only coming to the building for an hour long managerial meeting make sure you still set aside 15 minutes extra for your shelving.

2. If you are physically unable to shelve you will work from a provided short list of mundane yet useful alternates.

3. No bartering away your shelving. This is soul work too.

4. If there is nothing left to shelve (something that never happens here, but could under this system) dig deeper. There are always things to shelve and a back up of shelving-like activities will be available if there really is nothing. However, on mornings where we are strongly caught up, the King, or a licensed associate, may declare a "Shelving Holiday" where all are released from the usual responsibilities of shelving for that day.

5. Shelving time is real time. Breaks taken during shelving do not count towards shelving.

Why I think this is an important and good idea: 

I don't have to say, for I am King!

Okay. I will say. It breaks down the overwrought hierarchy that I feel is slow poison to the system. It puts everyone in touch with the building and the collection. It's better socialism and Libraries are, well, Socialist, except with a King! And finally, most simply, many hands make light work.

So it is decreed again, this date, etc. etc.

-The King  


  1. I am very fond of shelving, but I work at a different branch--when I come in as a patron, may I shelve for, say, a half hour? doesn't seem right that an eighth is a tithe. The word tithe is used entirely too loosely of late. Wikipedia, which is never wrong, says "A tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government." So whether you consider the library "religion" or "government," a shelving tithe would be 6 minutes, or 48 minutes per 8-hour shift. The math impaired will need a chart.

    1. Hello Ellen, I am down here in the guts of the blog doing some maintenance and found this old, unanswered comment of yours (from when I was perhaps on answering holiday or something). I like very much your correction of tithe. Sure, it could be one-tenth, albeit with the 15 minute minimum. And while we get awfully fussy about the patrons shelving I say, why not. If someone is awful (not that you would be), well, I spend chunks of my time shelving correcting mistakes as it is anyway.


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