Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Upset at library

As I sit on a sheltered computer during my dinner break at the library a feverish discussion has broken out in my hearing. My co-workers and a manager are getting pretty worked up about the idea that has been floated by the County that the minimum number of people required to staff this library is two. This is all in early anticipation of the tightening of the purse strings for the library pursuant to the county's... issues.

I can see why my colleagues are worked up. This is a big library. Under normal conditions three or four is probably just the minimum number to staff the circulation desk alone; machine, phones, and front desk. I suppose reference could make a claim to require three or four people too; kid's room, main desk, phones, and maybe teens, though I am far more skeptical as to their usefulness. Five to eight is a minimum for the building according to our history, but that's just in a pinch. Over the course of anything going on for more than a day, shelving, delivery, holds, customer service, and eventually programming will quickly begin to crumble in the face of these minimum numbers.

I think once, a few years ago, during a major blizzard, we had just three people total to staff this building. That was pretty fun really, albeit made easier by the fact that often that day we had only one or two library patrons in the entire building.

On the one hand the county is not completely off base here, we are wildly overstaffed these days and have set our work rates, managerial schemes, professional development and wages in relation to it. Handled deftly, and with wisdom, better pay, and the right people, this library could be run better with half the people. 

But on the other hand I don't think any of that's really what the county is thinking about.

What then, you wonder, do I think the county is thinking here?

Oh. No. I don't think of the county as sentient.


  1. I have to agree that two would be ridiculous in a library of that dimension and structure; too many nooks and crannies. The problem that your insentient county of course does not see is that you always need a "spare." Why? Because something always goes wrong, and if it doesn't it only because you got lucky. At the old SV we might have had two once in a while; three, really, but one at a time would be on break. Let's say we had two, a clerk and a librarian. All is good...until someone tells you that a patron just fell over and seems to have passed out. Suddenly, not enough. [And I'm noh elp, I'm hiding in the break room.]

    1. A fair analysis of the situation thank you. We seem to be headed towards a no sub system, which, historically could mean sending people from my largest branch to the wee branches, which is probably a subject for a new post soon.


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