Saturday, 21 August 2010

All by my shelf

My probationary period as a library assistant is now complete - so it's time to relax.  

If they want to get rid of me now, they have to kill me. (Don't tell them that - it'll give them ideas.) I was the last person to get a job in the UK - ever. I'll be a hundred and four and still saying: 'I don't know - I'm the new girl.'

I wasn't sure about the idea of working in a library at first - I had my reservations. But now that I've sorted my shelf out, this job might be just the ticket.

Today I spent some time sorting the health section, musing to myself how cruel it seemed to have all the books about backache on the bottom shelf and the ones about arthritis on the top, and how very neat and ordered the section on OCD was.

In between 'borrowers' I browse recently returned books so now I know all sorts of  things I never expected to: how to resuscitate a dog, muffin-making, Beatles ephemera, five minute yoga, and making your own crop circle using string and a piece of board. I'm getting my head around the Dewey Decimal system too. I found the Doomsday book in the 'letting your property' section. Well - you have to put it somewhere. 

Books go missing sometimes, of course. We can't seem to find Lord Lucan's Biography, that book about the Bermuda Triangle or 'Shergar - the Wilderness Years.'  

But by and large it's going well. But I've been stirring up a few ghosts. Not actual ghosts, but:

  • Woman who was part of group I was writing a play with
  • Man I used to chat to on the way home x 2
  • Ex's friend’s sister who ended up going out with my other ex
  • Dodgy poet
  • Local artist who wants erudite conversation when I'm sorting books into alphabetical order
  • Wirral News reporter
  • Dead Cat Woman
  • Meditation guru who had me exploring my own liver from the inside and alwasy stands too close
  • The poet from the fort
  • Old school chum not sighted since 1982 – who still looks exactly the same
  • Two of my ex volunteers
  • Big Brian
  • Chief Executive (but sadly not in full biker gear on this occasion)
  • Ode Show compere
  • Mr Hankey (not the poo from South Park. Real man. Real name.)
  • Crafty woman (not crafty as in cunning – she does crafts)
  • Boring jobless bloke who used to shark me
  • The cyclist who used to work for Dixons but packed it all in to be an artist and grow his hair

These are trying times for libraries. 'Big Society' might be the death of them. Visit your library this week and take out your full complement.

More dreadful puns and fun about working in a library, here: Why Are There So Many Songs About Librarians? and Stupid Questions People Ask Librarians


  1. My mental image of librarians is as illustrated. Despite visiting many libraries, I am yet to find her.

  2. Four years on, and sometimes I miss the library where I worked for more than a decade. Having lunch with some former colleagues this week. Most of them are still on the hamster's wheel. As soon as I leave the pub, I know I won't be missing the library at all.

    Public libraries are a different kettle of fish. I think they probably offer much more by way of entertainment - as illustrated in this post. Academic libraries are generally dogged by politicking and run by socially inept managers.

    Incidentally, I've attended a few conferences where, after a couple of glasses, some participants at the evening 'disco' really believed they could have struck a similar pose to that in the photograph. Now, that is a fun time to be an observer.

  3. Congratulations!

    What a great list. I can see them all, and you, the oldest newbie in the UK!

  4. I am dead worried about what's going to happen to libraries. There's an air of Doom around where they're concerned. It would be a disaster. The first thing I do in any new place is visit the Library, just to check it out, and make sure I still want to stay in that town ...

  5. That was quite funny. You look very nice in the picture-- I wouldn't have recognized you without the flower in front of your face.

    Tossing It Out

  6. What about the poet we know who used the D.I.Y. section?

    Congrats on passing your probation!

  7. I thought I commented back, but it's gone! I said something like this...

    Calm down boys! This isn't the picture on my ID card - which arrived this week a mere 13 weeks after starting!

    Martin - your nostalgia for your library years encouraged me a lot when I was just starting out - hope I get invited to some conferences like that!

    Fran- in my original (lost) response I went off on one about talk I've heard of (at a national level) about libraries being privatised, dumped, run by volunteers or shoved in the corner of retail outlets - all worrying stuff! Wirral tried to close 10 or 11 branches last year and was met with such fierce public opposition that it backed down - it may have helped a lot locally as it will make them think twice next time!

    Arlee - hi! Thanks for visiting. With a face like mine I never leave home without the flower!

    Moptop - Ta luv! If you mean who I think you mean that wasn't in my branch and there have been no sightings...yet!