I've just finished my first day of training and orientation at [my new library]. I have a lot to report on! Much of this may be of interest only to library workers, especially my union buddies.
I took notes all day, and I'm getting it all down here -- in no order, with no attempt to weave it together. All questions are FAQs I've been getting since announcing my move.
1. Who had this position before you and why did they leave?
It is a newly created position; I am the first person to hold the job. The position is part of a larger strategy to bring more robust library services to the North Island, to put them on par with the rest of the Island.
2. My position, the "Customer Services Librarian II", is the equivalent of the senior librarian position I recently left. However, there are only a handful of CSLIIs in the system.
3. Will the manager be in the branch with you?
I will mostly work on my own. I will report in to a manager, but he will work out of Campbell River, 2.5 hours away. The manager is also new to the North Island and has not yet been able to visit all five branches.
4. I have the opportunity to make this position what I want as I go along. Not only am I the first CSL II in this area, there has never been a CSL at all -- meaning no librarian.
5. What are you going to do for two full weeks of training?
Today I was given a schedule for my first three days, which are taking place in Nanaimo. I spent the day at the North Nanaimo branch, a beautiful facility that opened in 2015; it previously housed only the administration and back-office functions.
Today I met with senior staff representing HR, payroll, finances, health/safety, and IT. A full hour with each. This is so amazing. For almost my entire working life, I've been accustomed to being thrown in with no or minimal training. This system is also way more efficient. I can't begin to describe how much time is wasted trying to track down the appropriate person for an issue.
I also had a tour of this branch, and I met the union steward for my union. (There are two unions.)
Tomorrow I will be at the Nanaimo Harbourfront branch, right near the hotel.
6. I was given a laptop and a cell phone. There are eight hours of online training to complete, and I can do it in bits as I find time over the next two weeks.
7. As professional staff, I am allowed to modify my hours as needed. For example, one of my branches is on a different island. If I need to adjust my work different hours because of the ferry schedule, I can do that.
8. I will be responsible for approving payroll for my branch. Many of my responsibilities are managerial responsibilities in my former library system.
9. VIRL has 39 branches -- on the Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, the Queen Charlotte islands, and in two mainland locations. They have been building or renovating branches since 2010. By 2020 or thereabouts, all branches will either be renovated, rebuilt, or newly created.
10. With a few exceptions, the entire collection is floating! Customers must be adept at using the catalogue and placing holds to get what they want. There is a lot of staff instruction available for customers.
11. There is a YNF collection! I first saw a youth nonfiction collection in Vancouver Public Library and absolutely loved the idea. I developed a proposal and pitched it to the Mississauga Library. They rejected it, of course, but I love that VIRL has this.
The youth collection also includes "Playaways" -- digital audiobooks with a rechargeable battery. They are very popular.
12. How long does it take for a hold to come in? "It depends."
There are long distances between branches. Some branches get weekly deliveries, others twice weekly.
13. Books are sent by mail -- delivered by float plane -- to customers in remote locations. These are sent weekly. Loans are six weeks with no fines.
14. Next year children's materials will all be fine-free. !!!!
15. On December 12, there is an all-librarians meeting in Nanaimo -- CSLs, CSLIIs, and managers. It's perfect timing for me, as I'll still be in training.
16. Today I felt and appreciated how much I've learned in the last five and a half years as a working librarian. I was very comfortable with the information and asked a lot of good questions. I didn't feel like I was faking it. That is huge.
17. Yesterday I had a horrific getting-lost experience, and so was a bit anxious about driving to the branch and back to the hotel. Both drives went smoothly, and I even did the last bit by feel.
18. Their intranet is friggin amazing. This is a huge help for staff, and very different from what I'm accustomed to.
19. The provincial government here is often referred to as a "fragile coalition" of NDP and Green. One NDP MLA stepped down to become mayor of Nanaimo. This means a byelection could shift the balance of power. Scary!
20. There is a room in the admin offices called "hotel". Guests can park their stuff, login to a computer, and take breaks there.
21. For one of today's meetings, I was sitting next to someone who was walking me through some processes on her computer. The desk and monitor were too high for me, so my neck was straining the whole time. Her screen backgrounds were the default white, and the room had harsh flourescent lighting -- all of which give me headaches. I was becoming very uncomfortable. This made me think about accessibility for interviews and training. I repeatedly tried to adjust myself, but was unwilling to straight-up say I need help.
22. I will be coming in to my branches as the new senior supervisor -- the new boss. Typically in those situations, some people will like this and feel relieved and happy, and others will be threatened and see me as encroaching on their turf. I will enjoy the challenge.