Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Let me count the ways...

We counted all the books in the library the other day - it's an end-of-the-financial year thing.

We have 32,476 books. Well we might have.

But as there was no system of checks and balances, no QA, no spreadsheets listing categories, no double-checking of other people's additions... as the entire process was conducted on random bits of scrap paper with a bare minimum of discussion (we were all counting, see, and we'd have lost our places), and as we don't know (a) how many books are currently on loan because the system doesn't readily give us those sort of figures and (b) how many we are supposed to have all things being equal, we could have just as easily made up a rough figure and stayed in bed (separate beds... we're not 'that kind' of library).

But here's something to think about next time you're ploughing through a book you're not really enjoying: with more that 9,500 novels in our branch, IF (and you'll see, a rather big 'if') I read one every day it would take me 26 years to read them all. But also, I would never read them all - because we get more than 7 new ones every week so the incoming would exceed the outgoing.


  1. A pointless exercise then! By the way, what is 'that kind' of library?

  2. So aren't you glad you counted them all then!

  3. What sort of computer system do you have that doesn't know how many books you own, and how many are out at any one time? Is this what I pay my taxes for?

  4. I don't actually earn enough to pay tax, but I do pay Council Tax, and this is what I meant.

  5. I always wanted to be a librarian when I was a little girl. Now I'm growed up and an English teacher, I still want to be a librarian sometimes. I'm jealous of your book-counting.

  6. I love statistics I do. Which is why I liked the fact that you calculated it would take you 26 years to read all the books. Nice work my friend.

    Sod the stock count - it sounds like a farce. There need to be better software in place!

  7. Hi Martin - An imaginary 'naughty' one... the idea just came into my head and then I found that great link - did you click on it? 8-D

    Clare (and Gary - who probably would have got bored after the 'pets' section!) - I am, actually. That's me for you!

    Dave - It isn't that bad - we do get monthly figures of our loans, and its possible there is a way but no-one I work with knows how (they'd never seen a spreadsheet before they met me, remember!). Or maybe, like lots of computer systems, it can't give you exactly what you want when you want it. Or maybe the bosses in charge DO know and they're testing us. But anyway, it's all rather academic. It's very kind of you to contribute to Wirral Council Tax all the way from Norfolk. ;-)

    Fran - My favourite part of the job is sorting the books back into order. But then I'm still new so the thrill may pall.

    Annie - thanks, hon! I also worked out that if we have 32,000 books on the shelves it would only take 2000 borrowers coming in tomorrow and taking out their full compliment (16) to clear the shelves... I might arrange that to happen next time to simplify things.