04 March, 2010

The new starting point

My new library is a secondary school library, I have one library to service the needs of about 500 students on two interconnected campuses.
I am told, that at one point there were two libraries and two bookrooms for distributing class texts. This is a Once Upon a Time scenario. These libraries each had a staff of two, the bookrooms were also staffed. Gradually however these processes have been centralised, initially because a former principal read an article explaining that libraries were useless and outdated and should be replaced by computer labs. Why the bookrooms were also folded into the library, I don't know but as is often the case with such things the budget and the staff did not follow the resources*.
So, for some years the library has been staffed by one (overworked) library technician. Last year a teacher librarian was added to the school's staff. However, with his teaching load, he was not full time in the library.

Enter me...

I now sit in a library which has been sorely neglected for some time and have a budget which I don't believe is large enough to turn it around. However, budget is not everything and I am convinced I can move the place in the right direction (while at the same time agitating for more money next year).

So, what do I need to work on?

  • I have 2 compactus units in the middle of the library which take up space, prevent a clear view of the library and are plain ugly. They even obscure the view to a set of stairs which are 'out of bounds'.
  • I have a octagonal library, painted six different colours.
  • I have ugly furniture.
  • I have no spare shelving units.
  • I have no magazine racks (but then I currently have no magazine subscriptions).
  • The average age of the non-fiction books is around 26 years.
  • I have ugly, damaged and outdated materials.
There is more to it than that, I also have author authority files which are misspelt, some even contain ampersands? I have an OPAC which is not linked to from our homepage (or anywhere else).
There are other (minor) annoyances. I have no comfortable seating. The windows (which should look out at the botanic gardens) have bizarre asbestos 'things' which some mad architect (the same type of mad architect who would design an octagonal library) has placed there to prevent anyone seeing the view.

I think I will have my work cut out for me here. But I seem to be hearing the right noises from the senior staff in regard to them supporting my ideas, so I am not disheartened.
I am;
  • Undertaking a massive weed of the collection.
  • Waiting for new furniture to arrive (ordered prior to my arrival).
  • Working out how to best use my limited budget (basic non-fiction and popular fiction only for now. Other collections, such as graphic novels or audio books, will have to wait).
  • Getting wheels or my shelving, so I can make the library a versatile space.
Things like bay ends would help, as would turning the library backwards to make the out of bounds stairs my entrance. This would also let me turn my current entrance hall into a compactus room. The principal has had an engineer looking at the building in order to see if I can knock down a couple of walls and if I can do this, I may be able to create a quiet study room too.

How will it all go? Stay tuned, I may even blog about it.

*this is the story as I understand it, as has been told to me by several staff members. Albeit each time I hear the story there are some differing details.

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