Friday, May 7, 2010

Becoming the Breakfast Club

There are a few things that I'll miss once I retire. One of them is my monthly breakfasts with the "early risers". Flex hours have given people the opportunity to come in for 7 am. And while I sometimes find it difficult to get up so early, I really do like getting out of work at 3 pm. Of the group that chooses to come in before anyone else, 4 of us meet on the first Friday of the month for 6 am breakfast. In the winter it's very dark and very cold. But this time of year it's a lot more pleasant.

Mike, Judy, Eva & I met for several years at Rooster's in No. Amherst. A year or so ago they closed and since then we've been alternating between the Route 9 Diner and The Stables.
All this was only made possible after many years of changes in the Library administration, the adoption a more intelligent management style, and just treating people with respect. When I started it was the Dark Ages. In 1974 the dress code had just loosened to include slacks but NOT jeans. We were micromanaged, couldn't have coffee at our desks, and couldn't make or take personal calls. Everyone worked between 8 & 5 because that's when supervisors were there to watch you. They didn't want to come in early or stay late so the rest of us couldn't either. You were reprimanded for being plugged into a Walkman in the card catalog and supervisors went looking for you if you were away from your desk for too long.

Workwise we were not very progressive either. The procedures for ordering, receiving, and cataloging books had several steps or stops that included checking and double checking for errors. As a result everything took longer & we always had backlogs of 20,000 or more books. What some of us would give to see that many new books now!

While Acquisitions was more concerned with the speed of getting books into the library and actually kept statistics on vendor performances, Cataloging agonized over nitpicky details of the bibliographic records that described the books. Now with fewer staff & the importance of having materials available for use quickly, we "fast cat" most books.

Not being trained as a librarian, 30 years ago I spoke often about the need to speed up the process. I guess I didn't have much patience back then either, or rather, I was really ahead of my time. And you all should have listened to me back then. Now that we've become a lean, mean book processing machine, 80% of our budget is spent on "electronic" resources.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Jan! 20 THOUSAND books backlogged???

    Gary and Susan are trying to teach me FastCat. Think about that and smile.