Readers' advisory happens purely by accident...when we're not looking

by tosca on Thursday, November 12, 2009

Paul often makes provocative statements to challenge our staff and to encourage healthy debate - and then sit back and fan the flames. Yesterday he outdid himself. He said something that got right up my left nostril - and then he laughed. EVIL MAN. And it wasn't even his own comment LOL He said that readers' advisory only happens when we're out and about in the collections (maybe shelving or when wandering aimlessly around the aisles, I dunno) and when staff talk amongst themselves. Is he out of his ever lovin' mind? Yes. He is. But that's incidental to his statement heh.

And my response was, 'Bollocks!' If those are the only places we, as professionals, are gettin' a little readers' advisory lovin' then we're doin' it oh so wrong, and have been for ages. I'm desperately hoping that's not the case. I am always talking books - with customers, in my newsletters, in emails, in GoodReads, with friends - all 2 of them (I tell myself it's quality not quantity), with family, at the bank, on the bus, on the train, on the plane - I do not like them, Sam I get the idea.

I moved from a tertiary library to public libraries because I wanted to live and breathe readers' advisory. I realised that I do more of that these days in GoodReads with virtual strangers than I do with actual customers. I miss it. Which is prob why I make every opportunity an RA opportunity. OMG that is such a cheerleader moment *cue tear* Meh. Nevermind 'Bring back Buck!' I say 'Bring back books!'

And that's what I learnt at school today, Mum. Pfft. And now I'm sending this link to Paul LOL

If I f2f with you now...will you still respect me in the morning?

by tosca on Thursday, November 5, 2009

When is it ok to socialise with your colleagues? When is it not ok? Maybe when you've both had a snootful and you wake up in Hamilton with your pyjamas on and can't remember how you got there (surely I cannot be the only one with a story like this?) it's a good time to say, 'Whoa, horsie.' Is it even an issue? What kind of socialising is ok? We tweet and FB and Bebo and Google Wave at each other outside of work hours in a very familiar and social way - is this considered socialising? And if we do get rip snorting, falling down drunk at our weekly quiz night...will we still respect each other in the morning? I think it is ok because I'm a big girl with my pull ups (WOW). And so are my colleagues.

Every Wednesday a few of us play geek after hours (come on, who doesn't?) and go kick butt at Finn McCool's weekly quiz night. We grab a meal, kick back and relax before the quiz. It even involves alcohol *gasps* How daring! It's something we've done for a few months now while I've been out of the branches and, even though I'm officially no longer a part of 'them' (branch staff serving customers) neither is it an insurmountable issue. But it is something I've been considering lately. Enough to discuss it with the group I hang out with and, after much waving of forks and jabbing of spoons (no eyes were lost in this discussion...this time), we came to the following conclusion: they don't have an issue - I don't have an issue. HEY there's no issue.

So maybe...just maybe...others don't either? Note the use of the question mark.

And if it is an issue do we knock it all on the head? Does that mean no Christmas dinners? No birthday get togethers to sing 'For he's a (sometimes but not always and usually the best time to catch him is after he's had his morning coffee) jolly good fellow'? Do we avoid each other if we meet after hours in the supermarket, shopping mall, lingerie shop, stripjoint? At 5pm each day do I forever after avert my eyes lest I be tempted to give in to the sin of encouraging you to f2f with me? If it is a mountain then who decides which situation is a mountain and which a molehill? Me? The other person? Management? Who draws the line and do they draw it with something other than a neon pink crayon? I was never good at colouring in the lines as a child. I imagine much hasn't changed now. Meh.

I would imagine that it's all decided on an ad hoc basis in most organisations and, to be honest, I'm not even sure if we have a clearcut policy about the fraternisation of colleagues outside of office hours - perhaps it's not an issue. I'd like to think it's not - I'm gonna be Pollyanna-ish about it (I know SHOCKING that's twice in two days - hold on now).

So I have learnt this week that I can socialise with colleagues after hours and still remain professional. I think I am now officially a grown up.

Note: f2f = face to face, FB = FaceBook (this is for my quiz colleagues - and you all know who you are - who refuse to meet me in these places) *rolls eyes*
Please note: that while we met amicably and discussed over dinner whether or not we are able to maintain a professional manner during the weekdays, when the quiz is on - LOOK OUT - it's no holds barred and any sense of decorum goes out the window. Although I will still respect you in the morning :)

OMG - the Gaiman cometh!

by tosca on Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I have just heard that Neil Gaiman is coming to New Zealand. I heard it in Twitter must be true, right?

I was hanging out on Twitter and saw that @bookiemonsternz had a new blog post up and took a peek at it and almost started screaming and then fired back a cool response: OMG@bookiemonsternz is that for real?! Is @neilhimself coming to NZ?! (how cool and unflustered was I? Huh?)

And she was all like: @Manukau_Libs Would I lie to you? Would I? Nopes, I would not. :)

I go: OMG I so gotta go! @Manukau_Libs is going to be there. With bells on :) #NZFest2010 - Town Hall Talk: Neil Gaiman -

Now all of us NZ-librarians/libraries/library assistants are discussing the wonder that is @neilhimself. I'm so excited I could pee my pants. Although I won't. But I could!

I've already put in for annual leave and told my boss just now. YAY ME I'm going to see the Gaiman. Hopefully he doesn't cancel *gulps*

I heart him much *sigh*

Quickie review - Ask your father : fifty things your father should have told you but probably didn't by Michael Powell

by tosca on Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Title: Ask your father : fifty things your father should have told you but probably didn't
Author: Michael Powell
Year: 2005
Genre: Non-fiction
Age Group: Adult

Quote: Our fathers teach us how to be men by example; it is our choice whether to follow.

Summary: Michael Powell's very funny and, at times, quaint book is a collection of fifty things he believes a father should teach their son. This book is for the times when your dad is not available - whether by choice or by circumstance - to help you.

Review: I spent quite a bit of time laughing out loud, groaning in exasperation and, at times, cringing at some of the advice contained within this tiny book - but it was time well spent.

Separated into four categories (Style and etiquette, Women, Machinery, DIY & fixing stuff and Being a real man) you'll find every situation covered - from 'How to unclasp a bra with one hand' to 'Mobile phone etiquette' to 'Jump starting a vehicle' to 'Behaving in a strip club.'

Powell brings great sensitivity and humour, and the added bonus of very cool 1950s looking photos, to what is surely an unusual subject. A very funny book that gave me a quirky insight - as both a daughter and as an interested observer - into fatherhood. It always looks easy in the movies and after reading this book I know for a fact it isn't, but it sure does look fun. I learnt something I never knew I needed to know: I wear a bra and that doesn't, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that I automatically know how to get out of it one handed. Now I do - although I'm not sure how, as a girl, that life skill will help me at all. If ever.

Further recommendations:
Boys will put you on a pedestal (so they can look up your skirt) : a dad's advice for daughters by Philip Van Munching
No tattoos before you're thirty : what I'll tell my children by Sam de Brito

It's ok to disagree - the world will not end...

by tosca

My mother's a counsellor so that whole 'I'm ok, you're ok' that seems like so much kaka is kinda normal in our household (even though I think it IS kaka). I see it like this: I'm ok that my siblings are all nuts. See? It works. I'm also ok that most of the time we fight. About stupid things. About serious things. That's life. We get in a ruckus and we get over it. I still have to live near them. I still have to see them at birthdays and reunions. The world did not end because they booed my thought that we should stop adhering to the commercialism that is Christmas by paying exorbitant amounts of money for my family to love me (in the guise of presents). If they don't by now - screw 'em :) Love you mum LOL.

And conflict management - well shoot, as long as it doesn't end up resembling a hostage situation it's all good. Right? Right! It's all part and parcel of life. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that conflict management is normal *gasps* I know. Shocker!

So if it's a part of life...why isn't it ok to disagree with your colleagues? Even, and I say this tongue-in-cheek and yet not tongue-in-cheek, with management (not that I've disagreed with management at all this week, but it is only Tuesday and anything can happen)? Why is it that when I disagree with colleagues they look like I pissed in their cornflakes when I so blatantly didn't because, surely, I'd remember a momentous occasion such as that? When I say I disagree, or when our staff tell me they disagree, I don't immediately think, 'Oohh dissention - stamp on it!' It would be immature to quote Ben Stiller from Sandler's 'Happy Gilmore': You could trouble me for a warm glass of SHUT THE HELL UP.

I'm gonna go Pollyanna on you (I know, what a hell of a surprise that is - shocked the crap outta me, too) - I really, honestly, hand on heart believe that it's ok for staff to disagree. With me. With each other. With their senior librarians. With their manager. And yes, with top management. More importantly, I think it's ok for them/us to disagree with each other in front of each other. Disagreement does not mean they hate me (even if they do they should at least not show it jesus and if they do that’s a whole other blog post). It does not mean they hate the organisation (even if maybe they do).

Sometimes, disagreement means exactly that - they disagree. It is not (always) an accusatory statement (even if sometimes it's voiced as such). It does not (always) mean I even have to take on board what they say (although I’d be an idiot if I didn’t investigate their justification). It is not always negativity for the sake of negativity (even if sometimes it is). Sometimes, dissention is how we move forward and, quite often, the naysayers catch the little details that so often escape us all. They even remind me what our core business is. And surely, if our systems and processes are robust, we can stand up to a little criticism?

I'm a bossy, uncompromising tart who constantly wears her bitch undies (all day every day) - but I welcome dissention - even if I don't always agree with your opinion, hairstyle, perspective, choice of literature, cat's name, lifepartner etc. ;)

I am not afraid of discord. I do not think an organisation should be one homogenous, amorphous (I hope like hell those two terms don’t contradict each other because I ain’t stopping for no dictionary) blob. I like that it should reflect the diversity of our staff.

Conflict management is a beautiful term and I'm getting a crash course in it. Now ask me if I like it! Go on...I dare you.

Please note: No library assistants or librarians were harmed in the writing of this least, not physically. Psychically - well that's a whole other ballgame.