Monday, August 11, 2008

Construction (Moving Days D)

The new "liberry" was pretty much the daily topic of conversation, at least from our patrons' standpoint. As the structure grew and grew, we'd be asked our thoughts on it, how we planned to move into it, could we use help, etc. We really had no idea how to respond to most of the questions, as none of us had ever done anything like this before. In fact, we continued to tell patrons that we would be hard-pressed to even believe any of it until we set foot in the building ourselves. And, again, it was difficult to argue with the thing growing on the hill nearby.

Mr. Kreskin, our former board president, was delighted with the progress. Though he'd stepped down as board president a couple of years before ground was broken, he had been on the committee that generated much of the funds needed to get the project to the ground-breaking stage. His health had taken a few turns here and there, necessitating his departure from all committees. But he was there on the day the ground was broken to see his dream come to pass. All of us on staff knew his days were numbered, but we were betting he'd hang on like the Bluesmobile until the day we finally opened the doors to the public. We also joked that, like the Bluesmobile, he would then spontaneously combust. We were wrong. Several months before work on the building was completed, Mr. Kreskin passed on. And even though we knew it was an inevitability, his death still came as a shock to us because we'd all been so certain that he would hang on `til the building was finished.

And, at long long last, just over a year ago, the building was finished. I'd taken my first tour of it back before it had carpet, lights or furniture, but could see the potential there. By the time I set foot in the more or less finished creation, things looked really really nice and I began looking forward to working there. The place had SO much more space. For one thing, the entire staff would be able to fit behind the circ desk. For another, we'd have two--count `em TWO--circ computers with which to better serve patrons. There would be ultimately ten public access computers, compared to the three we previously had. Sure, none of them had arrived yet, nor had the long computer desk to put them on, and when the computers finally did arrive they did so sans monitors and it was another week or two before we could order some from a supplier who wasn't fresh out, but they would eventually come.

Which brings me to a very important point: despite the fact that all of our furniture, shelves, wooden shelf-ends, computers, and other essential "liberry" materials had been ordered many many months in advance, with a very specific due date on delivery given, you'd be amazed at the amount of things that failed to show up on time. Most of it arrived during our down-time as we did the actual move, but some of it we wouldn't receive for months after we'd opened. And when it did arrive, some of it was damaged, half-assedly-constructed or just outright wrong. More on that in a bit, though.

We the staff kept plenty busy making preparations for the move, right up until the time we were scheduled to accomplish it. We'd been hoarding boxes for weeks, but the idea of filling them gave us pause. Books, particularly nonfiction books, which was the section we were starting with first, are not always of uniform shape; they come in all sorts of dimensions, from tiny to over-sized and they don't lend themselves easily to being boxed in their proper order. But boxing things in as close to proper order as possible was exactly what we wanted to do. We weren't so naive as to think we wouldn't have to do rearranging, because while our new building offered far more square footage than our cramped and ancient original location, it was space we weren't entirely sure how best to fit our comparatively small collection into.

In the name of "getting it right the first time," we decided to refuse all active help from our patrons in the move. After all, they weren't trained to get things in order and would likely be in the way more often than not. (We already had enough problem with one of our employees falling into that category as it was.) Instead, we decided to let our patrons help us with the move in a far more passive manner.



Manda said...

We took the easy way out. We hired a moving company that specialized in moving libraries. They moved the books and the shelving. Not that they didn't make some mistakes putting the books on the shelves.

Anonymous said...

just to let you know...I'm enjoying the story.

An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.