Monday, June 6, 2016

Old library story

I have always been very fond of this old library story. I am so fond of it that I suspect that in three plus years of rigorous storytelling here I have already told it at least once to illustrate some trenchant library point. But I'm pretty sure this is a new point today. Which is great because it allows me to tell this story again!

Once upon a time two of my colleagues, now long gone, were working in the weird little back anteroom that the old version of this library used to have. They sat or stood back there, mostly processing book drop returns and materials that came in the delivery.  One of the two workers, let us say the much newer one, was working at a normal, steady, industrious pace. You know, like the one I employ when I feel like it and no one has offended me. The other worker was doing... whatever. And this other worker turns to the newer, industrious worker and says "Hey, slow down. You'll make the rest of us look bad."

I would like to use this story to illustrate the differences in the "olden days" library I used to work in and the "good old days are now" library I currently work in.

First of all, his saying what he did about slowing down was ridiculous no matter how you cut it, and unusual, but it was reflective of its contemporary situation. It spoke to something happening then. It said "We will never, ever get the work done back here, so please don't change the standard of how much work we are expected to get done." 

We have plenty of crappy workers around these days, just as ridiculous as this one, but no one would ever say what this one said. This difference is determined by the fact that now we often get caught up on our work in various areas. The only thing it means if one of our colleagues works harder in our current era is that there is less work for the rest of us to do because of it.

So in the olden days if you worked harder it contributed to a faster pace. Nowadays if you work harder it allows for a slower pace.

I still work my hardest when no one is looking. I'm not entirely sure how this relates to the above story or to the history of my library. I suspect it has something to do with not liking people to be up in my business.

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