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Library Services at Elsewhere University: A Guide and Compendium

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ia) The official staff handbook (with some additions and annotations)

The library has an elaborate structure of treaties, truces, contracts, curses, oaths, prophecies and traditions that stretch back to the university's founding, and in some cases even earlier. Union negotiations for library staff include clauses that are non-standard by every sense of the word. A minimum of seven different collective agreements apply to various library staff groups:

  • Librarians are tenured faculty, and fall under the auspices of the Faculty Association.
  • The Non-Academic Staff Association's collective agreement covers the rest of the staff.
  • The treaty with the Court of the King of the Cats is negotiated in partnership with Facility Services.
  • Facility Services has their own binding contract with specific chapter and verse relating to library services. Groundskeeping is a sub-local of Facility Services.
  • A spoken agreement never to be captured in the written word governs the rooftop and all that dwell there.
  • There is at least one more that is never spoken of outside of the eighth floor.

Librarians (Masters' degree from a nationally accredited program) are tenured faculty. Library technicians (two-year college diploma) are not. In many institutions, this is cause for bad blood. At EU, it is relatively unremarked upon. Everyone knows that The Library will take a tech on occasion, as well. (An equivalent combination of education and experience may be considered under some circumstances.) Besides, librarians get hazard pay for additional job duties as required, but somebody needs to keep their feet on the ground and make sure that the new pages all get workplace health and safety orientation, that the schedule for library instruction class spots goes out to all departments in time and that the sign-up deadlines are enforced, that each service point has enough petty cash, salt packets, and emergency iron bolts and washers, and that there's a back-up person to tell the bees in the rooftop garden any important goings-on in case of sick leave or conflicting vacation time.

A bachelor's degree or other related post-secondary education is an asset but not required for library assistants or other specialist positions. Specialist positions include diviner, beekeeper, and marketing and media manager. Library-wide training coordinator, departmental exorcist, and occupational health and safety committee chair are all additional job duties that may be taken on by a qualified staff member in a senior position.

Library staff may serve on interdepartmental and campus-wide committees such as the ethics review board and any resulting subcommittees, grievance committee, campus-wide events and initiatives, and the bargain, geas, curse, and wager review board.

Interlibrary teams and committees include the missing persons search party rota, library-wide policy committee, training and professional development team, and Deep Library liasion team.

Other library committees and workgroups include the circulation policy committee, digital resource committee, open access textbook working group, and curse and hex disarming team. The Honourable Order of Bibliographic Cartography and Strange Space Spelunking operates in spring and summer semesters outside of peak semester workloads.

The Library does not have a formal dress code per se. Business casual attire is preferred for public-facing positions. Iron accessories in moderation are strongly recommended for all staff, although some exceptions may be made on a case by case basis. Staff are encourage to take advantage of the arrangement negotiated between the Library and the metalwork shop to test the iron content of any protective jewelry, wards, or other personal items obtained through unofficial channels.

Departmental staff meetings are generally held bimonthly, at the discretion of the department manager. Library-wide staff meetings are held quarterly, at the end of each semester. All library meeting start times are based upon the clock in the room in which the meeting is scheduled.

The muster point when the evacuation plan goes into effect is the bloodstone circle in the west corner of the Commons. This is the only time when it is safe to use the crosswalks in front of the library. The muster point when the shelter-in-place plan goes into effect is the brass fountain on floor twelve and half. Turn around and take the first left turn you see.

Seeking the thirteenth floor is grounds for disciplinary action.

All new staff must complete the instructional videos and/or related worksheets on the following topics within one week of their official start date:

  • Library mission values, and core principles
  • Evacuation and shelter-in-place procedures
  • Ergonomic workstation adjustment
  • Card catalogue safety and containment
  • Library navigation and wayfinding
  • Timesheet reporting in a chronologically challenged workplace
  • Salt lines and thresholds - when to call facility services and when to run

ib) The unofficial staff handbook (Kept in the green binder in the staff room, and revised as needed. Has been known to update itself on numerous occasions)

There are numerous challenges to working in a university library. Shrinking budgets, rising costs, proprietary and predatory database licenses for peer-reviewed content, entitled faculty, clueless undergraduates, and inappropriate behaviour in the stacks. Predatory shadow creatures, migrating stacks leading to misplaced range markers on the shelves in the Deep Library, time management issues, and the inevitable workplace frustrations of whose turn it is to clean out the staff room fridge, and how come the same three people are the only ones to sign up for the weekly search party rota out into the Deep Library stacks? (Those last two have been taken care of by establishing a set schedule for fridge cleaning by department, and by handing the search party organization off to the manager with the best scheduling mojo. If you do not volunteer, you will be voluntold.)

Here are some helpful hints and tips from your coworkers:

There are communal cartons of cream and milk in the staff room fridge. If you use them, it is appreciated if you contribute to the cream fund in the owl mug on top of the microwave. Do not use the staff room cream and milk to fill the saucers outside the second floor quiet study rooms at the end of the night, or the saucer of milk for the seventh floor shelving art. (It's arguably all the same cream, but there are a couple of people who get cranky about it because Reference Services has a separate jug of cream paid for out of their departmental supply budget for this purpose.) And don't forget to put your quarters in the owl mug before the first of the month.

The north elevator is the slow one. The east stairwell is a prime make-out location for undergrads that we are actively trying to discourage. Barge in often, and loudly. The west staircase literally leads to nowhere. Don't take the west stairs. (it is a proven fact that one out of every three libraries has a stairway to nowhere. Nine out of every ten libraries have multiple leaks in the roof.)

Elevators and stairs often do not connect in the ways you would expect them to. Breadcrumb trails do not work. Bagel crumb trails are unreliable. Donut crumb trails will get you back the way you came, but will irk facility services. Don't upset the janitorial staff. The time spent coaxing them out of the gloomy mood this will cause, and the cost in bringing in cupcakes for them all for the next week is something that the senior manager of administrative services will never get back. Don't be the cause of that. The senior manager of administrative services controls the departmental supply budgets, among other things.

Don't try to find the thirteenth floor. This is posted on the staff room notice board, in the orientation manual, written into library-wide policy, and part of the quarterly reminders at the beginning of each library wide staff meeting.

Don't mess with the seventh floor, either. The second sub-basement is a bit risky. Floors ten though twenty-three may not officially exist, but can be navigated with caution.

Be cautious about accepting help from anyone not wearing a library-issued name tag.

Watch out for Mildred-and-Ethel in the stacks. Mildred-and-Ethel look like twins. They look like every stereotype or caricature of a librarian out there, the prim elderly lady with a bun, wearing pearls and cardigan. They look kind and harmless. They are none of those things. The first two times you accept their help, you'll find what you're looking for in no time. Don't accept a third time. If you're lucky, you'll be left with a scorch mark on the floor, and the indelible memory of a ravenous hunger and a truly improbable amount of teeth. If you're not lucky, you won't remember anything ever again.

Any library staff foolish enough to get caught hanging around the mysterious staircase behind the library during the first night of the full moon will find themself in danger of formal disciplinary notice, and assigned some required reading by Christina Rosetti.

If you find three stacked pennies on a shelf in the stacks, leave them and proceed with caution. If you need them, you'll know.

If you are in the stacks, and a child's ball rolls towards you, send it back the way it came. Don't follow it. If a wasp's nest rolls towards you, evacuate the floor immediately and report to the senior staff member on duty. Someone must tell the bees.

An empty circle of chairs in the group study rooms is safe to rearrange. An empty circle of chairs in either sub-basement is not.

Library staff don't eat the baked goods from the coffee shop in the foyer if they can help it. They're not dangerous, just stale. (Time passes differently in the library.)