Saturday 6 April 2019

On the road with the Library

My Daughter the Librarian is six months into the job, has finished her training in Cabra and is now on a 12 month Relief gig. All the Dublin City librarians and library assistants are on the public payroll and realise that nobody will die if they skip work. Accordingly, some of them will be tempted to pull a sickie if they are hung-over or need to shop for their pal's baby-shower. Hey, I'm a public servant too, nobody will die if I don't turn up to work but 18 people, who did come to 'my' class, will have been inconvenienced and disrespected. So I turn up. To cope with the waves of library staff who call in sick or are claiming vacation days, the Library service has a pool of Relief Librarians; all drawn from this pool of new entrants. They are required to report at head-office each day and are sent to wherever there is a hole in the HR. If you get in well with the Relief Manager, you can coat-tail on expected absences [prior medical appointments, weddings] and be told your schedule for the next few days. Imagine the annoyance of cycling in to head-office from Finglas only to be told that your presence is required in . . . Finglas; imagine if Winter is simultaneously delivering horizontal sleet.

That strikes me as a really excellent way of embedding the youngest recruits into the Culture of the Library Service. Training starts off attached to a particular branch, where there will be a particular, not to say peculiar, collection of people behind the check-in desks or wandering about the stacks "reshelving the books". Libraries are open for longer than the working day so there are two over-lapping shifts: 0900-1700hrs and 1200-2000hrs. The books have to be reshelved sometime but if you're lazy and complacent you'll be too busy to do this on your shift; effectively offloading it on someone who would rather get things done. On Relief you can be surprised by joy to find that this practice is not universal . . . but meet other sources of annoyance. Yer One who carps on about how stupid customers are; Yer One who never answers the telephone; Yer One who can't leave her own phone in her locker; Yer One who siiiighs for the last three hours of the shift; Yer One who robs your milk out of the fridge. Unless you've led a very sheltered life, you know these people too.

Perhaps the best gig on Relief is the Mobile Library [seen R in the city centre]. There you're out on the by-ways of the city getting to visit the nooks and communities that are not big enough to have a library in a building. I'm guessing these are often the peripheral estates full of newish Celtic Tiger homes where there are lots of youngsters and no resources. No chip-shop; no bookies; no butcher; no barber; no TD constituency office; no gym; no newsagent.  The library makes a difference there; showing that literacy is one way to escape from a bleak life and ultimately to escape from the ghetto.
I'll stop there I can't be blogging for m'daughter, she's big enough to do it herself - if she'd ever stop tweeting.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so delighted to discover that we still have mobile libraries - I kept meaning to check after reading Alan Bennett's hilarious description of the queen (of England) discovering the magic of one