Wednesday, July 29, 2020

August 2, 2016: Circulation Staff Only

My god! Look at my circulation co-worker over there! Are they shopping for shoes? There's work to be done! Why, when I was over on the phones station it was amazing how hard I worked. I was a blaze of fire! I processed an entire bin of incoming requests in six minutes! A whole cart in six minutes!

Of course, for the other 54 minutes I was, um, shopping for shoes.

And that's really what it comes down to. There is not a one of us at my library who is not, at least occasionally, dissatisfied with the productivity of everyone else. Tempting as outraged superiority can be, mostly this is an impulse to be resisted.

I have consistently found that when we measure the work rate of others we measure it against our own highest possible personal work rate. If I knocked myself out shelving five swollen carts of fiction books seven years ago as flood waters were rising in the library, and I was on a coffee high, that will forever be the standard by which all my co-workers must be measured in every single moment of every working day.

So let me say it again: We measure the work rate of our co-workers by our highest and most perfect work accomplishments, by the rare level of work we perform when we are motivated, engaged, well-treated, happy, lucky, and feeling like it.

Since we can't possibly measure our own work rate against ourselves we must measure it against others. And so we measure it against the worst possible work rate of our co-workers. Sue, for instance, spent an hour socializing and talking about her vacation with half a dozen people. So surely I am allowed to sit here and read this interesting book at my leisure.

We work at a library. Everyone is always allowed to sit and read an interesting book for god's sake! That's the first thing to keep in mind.

But I might also want to keep in mind that after Sue chatted with everyone endlessly about her vacation, she went and cleaned up the entire Children's Room, which was in total chaos, a freaking mess, on a crazy day, and she did it totally alone, while the librarian just sat there!

Fucking librarians.