Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Staff communication

Lately, at my library job, we have been getting a lot of informational notes. These tend to be remedial.

"I shouldn't have to remind anyone, but when taking the last piece of tape from a roll you are always responsible for putting a new roll inside."


"I know this is a problem with very few of you, but when taking a payment and putting it into the cash register always make sure to close the drawer when you're done."

I suppose one could find such notes offensive, but they clearly seem to be in response to actual library events. These are never the kind of thing to help me do my job better. They are more a way to keep apprised of what's going on down at the lowest echelons of library worker skill. Plus they're funny, in a painful way, but funny all the same.

"When filling transit boxes please do not pile the books higher than the rim of the box. This makes it impossible to put a lid on. When the box is full to the rim, put a lid on it and start a new box."

One thing I find that adds to the absurdity of all these for beginners only email notes is the fact that in all other ways the communication at our library, outside of the remedial stuff, is horrible. Just last week half of the functionality of our big and crucial automated check in machine was down. For the whole morning staff (and patrons as well) had to do far more, and far more awkward, work to deal with our thousands of returns. They had to return items to remote bins, push them through the snow, and hand feed them onto an inconveniently placed and overworked moving belt. After more than three hours of this the circulation staff found out by mere accident that the issue had been fixed early that morning. "Oh," Some automation services person said in passing "You can use this now. They fixed it early in the morning."

Thanks. Good thing you didn't trouble anyone with a pesky email about it.

Here's one from me:

"Dear Staff, when anything important is broken at the library make sure to ask at least six people to make sure it really is broken. It probably isn't. Also, if something really is broken and a temporary work around has been put into place take the time to consider whether it is a bad, inefficient work around. It may have been put into place by the sort of person who doesn't know how to stack books in boxes."

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