Stampede!

By not working until a Thursday, I miss all the office chat, and this is especially so this week, with everyone in their new posts and the libraries operating on their new shortened hours. I, for instance, am being paid to be at work from 9 a.m., but in fact I don’t start until 10:30!

I’m at Henleaze today, with about 7 others, 3 of whom I haven’t met before. But N* arrives and is asking questions about our ‘official’ answer, should any of our customers have seen today’s “Post” and the article on library assistants going on strike against working Saturdays, amongst other things, being ‘untenable’. We are told by J*, a union rep., to advise people that we don’t know any more than they do, and they should go to the Unison web site for up-to-date information.

So I’m up-to-date on that, and now the atmosphere in the library reaches fever pitch as customers peer through the front door to see why we’re not open, if we’re all in there. M*, the supervisor, does go to the door and tell a few initial customers that yes, the hours listed on the new, shiny boards outside are now in effect, and the library will be open at 11, and not close until 5.

When the doors do open, there’s a stampede of customers. I’m tidying the Local books section, as initially all 3 of the computers are manned. R* comes to tell me that after 5 minutes of opening, the door count is showing 68! As far as I can see, this is mainly made up of mums with 2 kids (who are all still on their Easter hols.), with the odd elderly couple, and the regulars who come in to use the computers and read the papers. In fact, one customer asks for the ‘Times’, which is kept behind the counter, and I tell her only the ‘Guardian’ is there. She looks quite put out at this, until I suggest that someone else might be reading it at the moment. Immediately her face brightens and she says she’ll come back in a few minutes.

We are busy all morning, although after the initial rush during the first hour, things calm down and we are able to discharge the books that have been brought back on the van from other libraries, and put out the reservations and reading group books, and shelve all the books on the trolley.

Working patterns have changed so there’s no morning tea break now, but half the staff go for their hour’s break at 12, and the rest of us at 1. Actually, this is the time I finish, but I don’t notice the time because of the late start etc. until M* tells me to run away.

I did manage to pop into the shops on my way to work this morning and buy some new black socks. It’s all about change.

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