The library where I work in a FE/HE College is currently undergoing refurbishment which has led me to ponder the importance of said library as seen through the eyes of people who neither work there, nor make use of it. Does anyone really care?
Certainly, my experience of moving tells me that this seems unlikely. While the library is comparatively small (betweend 16-20,000 books probably), packing up an entire library is no mean feat! I was flabbergasted when one of the students asked me why we were making such a fuss about ‘packing up a few books’ on our own – they were soon sorry they’d said that! I explained, in somewhat patronising terms admittedly, that not only were we packing up 20,000 books (in dewey order, in numbered boxes), but also several hundred back copies of periodicals, stationary stock, items for repairing books, cat/class tools, numerous manuals, folders and records, and an entire office which houses eight staff members and all their paraphernalia… The list, in fact, goes on and on! However, I think that particular student now appreciates more fully the intricacies of moving an entire library, so I’m one convert down!
However, worse is yet to come…it would appear that several staff members were of the same perusuasion – yes, that’s right; mature, intelligent adults, who would, one assumes, understand that packing up an entire floor of a building is somewhat complicated, also struggled to see our difficulties. Quelle horreur! So, instead of the help which we had confidently expected, the 7 of us within the LRC proceeded to pack everything up on our own. With no help. Whatsoever. Is it any wonder that I question if anyone cares?!
And then, having worked our fingers to the bone, we were told that we had packed ‘inefficiently’ (i.e. with the books spine up) and so had run out of boxes! Words fail me. Yet again, an example of how little other people either know or care! The reason, for those of you who are wondering, that we packed the books spine up is because in our temporary home we have absolutely no shelving, so the books are displayed in the boxes, as they would be on shelves, so that you can see them. This, so we think, is ingenious! Cardboard city it may be, but the books are there, they are accessible, and they are in Dewey order (thanks to our carefully labelled boxes)! You can’t keep a good librarian down!
So while this post is, unashamedly, somewhat of a rant, it is also (in a small sense – I don’t want to seem too full of my own importance!) a story of triumph against the odds, and a fight for survival! Yes, I now work in cardboard city, and yes, it is chaos, but we are still doing our jobs, and helping students to access information at a time when they are inundated with assignment deadlines and exams. Go us!