Tag Archives: Fun

Thrills & Spills in ILLs

You know that awkward moment? The one when you’re walking along the street, or browsing through the supermarket, maybe you sit down on a train, and you look to the right, and there’s that face; you sort of recognise it, can’t quite place them, you smile, there’s a little eye-recognition and then Oh god, dammit, why didn’t I just look away or pretend that I… “So, hey, hi, how are you, good to see you, how long has it been?”

Oh come on, we’ve all been there. Like 10 minutes ago, when I saw the WordPress bookmark, tried to log-in, forgot my password, reset it, and then discovered to my horror that I haven’t posted anything since 2012!

Very poor.

Anyway, I’ve been spurred back into action. I’m back on the horse, all dusted down and reinvigorated with professional blogging related impetus.

By why I hear you cry?!

Well, since my last post I’ve rotated again, and am now working in Inter-Library Loans and Acquisitions: and on Friday we had a lovely visit from some colleagues at another University library who came to see how we do ILLs, and it was so nice to share some time with colleagues who seemed genuinely interested in our work, and it made me want to write about it.

I think my motivation also stems from the fact that due to some ongoing pressures at work (we won’t mention the dreaded ‘R’ word), the fact that we had a great day and seemed to make a good impression spoke volumes about the character and professionalism of the fabulous people I work with- that even in the face of testing times, our spirit remains undiminished. Sigh.

ILLs is great. My ILLs manager is a legend in the field, known by name and for her inimitable style, and we have a lot of fun. Whilst she seems baffled by the fact, like my predecessor, I rather enjoy posting Jiffy bags, sticking labels and stamping things, I marvel at the substantial number of variables associated with the job and her ability to remember them all.

ILLs is at the same time idiosyncratic, processional and completely ad hoc. One minute I’m sending through a straightforward request to the British Library, the next I’m exchanging pleasantries with a librarian in Germany. You spend a lot of time communicating with people- students, lecturers, librarians- and a great deal of time chatting with each other, sharing progress on orders, and laughing in the face of ‘rules’.

One of the things I have noticed, and wasn’t necessarily expecting, is that ILLs is often the first port of call for people using the Library for the first time. This puts us in a unique position, as it’s our job to not only solve an inquiry, but to make a good impression and do the best we can to direct staff and students to the other services and resources we have to offer. I actually spend a lot of time helping people with using databases, Google Scholar, promoting our Librarians, Subject Guides, and other facilities like the British Library or the public library.

ILLs also pushes you, in the sense that if you like problem solving, you’ll want to keep searching, to check SunCat or WorldCat again, to challenge your stamina and professional resolve. I think my competitive side, that intrinsic feeling of determination not to be beaten, particularly by the system, is often tempered by a ‘need by’ date, or the fact it’s 5.45 and it’s still bugging me.

I couldn’t begin to cover all of the things we do, even though I technically only do it two days a week- but Friday’s visit reminded me that what we do is interesting, fun, and above all quietly satisfying; we help people find the information they need, often by hook or by crook (if ‘by crook’ means emailing an author in America directly and hoping beyond all hope that politeness and a good spell-check might just do the trick…).

Given the uncertainty zeitgeist that seems to perpetually plague both us and the sector in general, I would feel sad if my time in ILLs heralds the end of my Library experience. I hope the old adage about an ‘ILLs wind blowing no one any good’ doesn’t come to pass.

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Control Freakery

Is it possible to forget everything you’ve learned in 11 days?

That was the question I pondered on Tuesday morning when I returned to work following some much-needed annual leave. Having just been introduced to some fundamentals of the cataloguing process, had I jeopardized my development by sunning myself in the south of France?

Well, not quite, though it took me until Wednesday afternoon for the mental gears to kick in.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to focus my attention upon learning something completely new which is as complex and complicated as this. I feel like I’ve enrolled on a foreign language course, and as with learning a new language, the grammar and syntax are simultaneously nuanced and specific; except I don’t have 6 months to build up slowly and at my leisure. I’m in a professional working environment, I have books (and, as of this week, theses) which are needed for students to use, and I’ve got to get to grips with the practicalities of my role (and effectively cataloguing itself) now; which is as exciting as it is challenging. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling under a little pressure; the fact that I’m part of a team of two (well, possibly three, we’re not sure at the moment- I’ll explain later) means that it’ll become very obvious very quickly if I’m the poorly performing cog in the wheel.

In other news, I’ve lost control of my desk. I’m a bit obsessive about working structures, patterns and tidiness and I need to establish how I work. I have to have things in certain spaces, arranged a certain way. The geography of my desk helps with the geography of my mind. When my desk looks messy, you can rest assured my mind is too. At the moment, my desk starts neat at 9 and has descended to anarchy by 5. My target for next week is to sort out how I’m working in order to work better. If my physical space is taken care of, hopefully my mental space is too.

Finally, Thursday witnessed an almighty numerical fail, when my manager attempted to explain to me our system for generating control numbers for items without ISBNs. It’s a very sensible, simple, straightforward system using basic, easy to understand numbers arranged in a particular order.

Unfortunately, when my eyes see numbers, and when my ears hear numbers, my brain does a number.

Thankfully, events descended into hilarity as we both saw the funny side; but for a moment it felt like any veneer, any mere semblance of intellect, capability and professionalism disintegrated instantaneously.

 

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Out of the Frying Pan & into the Fire

After 12 happy months in Public Services, I am about to embark on a journey into the unknown- Cataloguing. I have not been to Library School. I am wholly unqualified. You say Dewey, I say Uncle Scrooge:

What can possibly go wrong?

Yes, in the crazy world of my Library, I am about to be rotated for the second time- from the dark, murky corners of the illuminati to the, well, lighter (and temporarily more spacious) corner of ‘proper Librarianism’.

I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for this last comment.

It’s just that, Cataloguing strikes me as pretty much the closest I’ll ever get to being part of that classic, nostalgic, rose-tinted world of tweed, dust and good old-fashioned stamping. Yes I know, Libraries are about e-resources, and iPads and fancy tools, and information literacy. And yes I know that dealing with customers, equipment and systems is crucial to building a successful learning environment. But Cataloguing, well, it looks sort of librariany. There are reference books involved.

With just a few days to go, I’m filled with excitement and trepidation. Excitement in that I’ll be learning something new, and sitting somewhere different and changing the whole tempo of my daily work. The trepidation comes from a genuine fear that I’ll be useless at it. I really am starting from a low knowledge base. No, lower. Lower than that. Keep going. Yep, that low.

From what I can tell so far, grammar and punctuation are big themes in cataloguing which pleases me. I’m obsessed with both, love rules and think everyone should read Lynne Truss’ masterpiece. However, it also looks like it involves computer systems and someone called Marc. This pleases me less. I don’t like numbers or technical things. Boo science. And I don’t like meeting new people. On the up side, I’ve already re-written the title of this blog post three times; first, as I would normally, second as it should look on the catalogue, and third as above which breaks both mine and AARC rules. At least I think it does. Is it even called AARC? No wait, it’s AACR isn’t it? Haha! See, I was paying attention. What? I’ve missed out a number? Really?

Anyway, I also found out today that Mr Dewey (allegedly) had a thing for Max Mosely-style alleged shenanigans (allegedly). In conclusion, I plan to document my journey through Cataloguing in the hope that some good will come from the metadata damage I will undoubtedly do.

In the meantime, I’m in the process of wrapping up my time in Public Services which, contrary to the indications of colleagues (whose doomsday utterings left me concerned that I was headed into the jungle with Martin Sheen) has proven rather fun and uplifting; and I don’t think this is entirely down to the gallows humour either. The fact is, Public Services is both challenging and rewarding. You’re simultaneously managing your workload, motivation levels, personal discipline, professional manner and general ability to be social. I’ve felt under pressure to be ‘on’ most of the time. You get asked more questions than you have answers for, and the sense of treading water and frustration at being powerless to solve certain issues can be a little overwhelming at times. But then, the sense of achievement when something works, when customers are satisfied, becomes even more intensified- even the smallest, littlest success, like finding a missing book, or answering a colleague’s question, suddenly becomes magnified into a much more emphatic win. I’ve also learned a lot from my Public Services colleagues about problem-solving, thought processes, strategic planning and attention to detail; not to mention the skills of personal resolve in handling extremely difficult/challenging scenarios with dignity and care. I’m actually sad to be saying goodbye to a job I’ve enjoyed, and to the tasks I never quite got round to finishing.

But all things must end, and in that spirit I shall stop now.

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How To Hide Your Library

It’s a key point to consider, especially given that newbie after newbie seems to be under the impression that we’ve hidden it.

“Excuse me, sorry, but where is the Library?”

“I’m sorry, where are all the books?”

“Like, hello, where’s the frickin’ stuff?!”

Ok, no-one has actually phrased it like that.

I’ll admit that the orientation of our buildings could be improved ever so slightly; and, that there are a few potentially misleading signs here and there. But, honestly, I’ve never known a group of individuals, the movers and shakers of the future, so wholly incapable of navigating their way around.

The first stumbling block is our barriers. Yes, the stupid plastic clip on their I.D. cards doesn’t help- but come on people, it’s a barrier, not an open-mouthed alligator! Swipe and walk! Swipe. And walk.

Exit, amazingly, really does mean way of leaving.

But what trumps all of the orientation issues which pervade our daily customer service interactions, is the strange (and immensely comical) notion that we’ve somehow hidden everything. Even more comical is the manifestation of this confusion, which seems to be an inability to walk through double doors.

Seriously.

If I had a fiver for every person who battles to swipe in, only to be confounded by two unlocked, dual-directional, swinging brown doors, I’d be able to buy a second Strictly Come Dancing Sweepstake 2011 ticket. Even though they can see people passing in, out and through them- they stop, return to the safety of the desk and ask for help.

Even then, guiding them to proceed through the doors to the lifts and stairs isn’t a failsafe mechanism for connecting them with resources. They come back, having been unable to locate anything.

What have they been doing for all that time? Standing in the stairwell?

It makes you wonder what they think we’ve done with the Library. Have we disguised it as the Canteen?

And what do they think is lurking behind the un-openable (even though they’re being opened) doors? A monster? Purgatory? (Make your own jokes) Michael Winner?

It’s not like the building is a Tardis. It’s massive, with a billion floors. What happened to the great explorers? I doubt Sir Ranolph Fiennes would take one look at a door and think “Oooh, not for me” and turn around.

Anyway, it fills us with amusement, and that’s what matters.

In tribute to the dooraphobics, I’ve found this gem from my childhood. Don’t have nightmares!

 

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Forwards. Not Backwards. Maybe A Little Sideways…

And lo, the new academic year is upon us. Whoo.

Last week saw the newbies arrive, all bright-eyed and questioningly tailed, excited to attend their Library inductions. Our Subject Librarians have worked hard to exceed their needs, and to invigorate their minds with regards the Library and all the informatic possibilities available to them through using it. This week, it’s the staff on the counter taking the strain, as continuing students return and the clamour for that last textbook reaches fever pitch. And let’s not forget the ‘One Man & His Dog’ scenario of trying to herd all the little lost sheep through the Library gates (security barriers, total nightmare, stupid plastic clips…).

And yet, with all the hustle & bustle of September, with all the drama of technical fail, and with all the chaos that the new term brings, there is only one burning issue at the top of the daily agenda.

Forget swipe cards, borrowing rights, the food & drink ‘policy’ or even Dresscodegate.

The only topic of conversation in town is:

The Strictly Come Dancing 2011 Sweepstake!!!!!!

Yes folks, TV fever is sweeping the office like never before!

Despite a few hard-liners vehemently opposed to anything remotely fun or frivolous (you know who you is) there’s been an overwhelming groundswell of interest and fervent debate. (BTW research suggests that 92% of people are 75% more happy if they participate in 35% more random office sweepstakes 22% of the time).

With just days to go, there are only 6 spaces left available.

This is undoubtedly going to provide the water cooler moments of the Autumn/Winter- and it will all be covered here, lively and exclusively. Watch this space!

(PS: A big thank you to all my colleagues for their extremely generous awards & prizes- 23 Things was a great experience, I recommend it to anyone, and I suggest everyone continues with their blogs ’cause they were all marvellous!)

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They Thing It’s All Over…

Alas, we’ve reached our final Things!

But this isn’t the end. Instead, let’s think of it as a beginning. A new chapter. Like Katie & Peter: The Next Chapter- only with more quality, depth and overall point.

Less ITV2, more BBC2. Or BBC4, which I always wish I watched more often.

Anyway, for my reflection/look back over this 23 Things Journey- which has been like an emotional rollercoaster, during which I’ve learned so much about myself… (yes folks, X Factor’s back!) I decided to sit down with a pad & pen, and note down the stuff which immediately came to mind. So, here, in no particular order, are my 23 Things about 23 Things:

  1. Such Fun! Yes, I wont try to style it out; I’ve had fun doing 23 Things. It added a new dimension to my working week, which over the quieter Summer proved important in maintaining daily motivation levels.
  2. Collaborating isn’t always bad: 23 Things has provided a refreshing opportunity to work and engage with colleagues across the sites.
  3. Back to Blog: I like blogging. I like writing. 23 Things met my needs.
  4. A Brave New World: 23 Things is a fantastic way of discovering the myriad of online packages and technologies available to us, in an atmosphere which encourages supportive, shared learning.
  5. Knowing Me, Knowing You- Aha! Perhaps my favourite Thing has been getting to know more about the people I work with. Not in a stalkery way, but in a way which has helped to build a sense of community amongst the team; and, on a personal level, has definitely improved my professional workplace confidence.
  6. Evernote: I knew about Evernote, but I’ve now seen it up close; and me likey. Thank you to Twinset & Purls (prolific blogger extraordinaire) for giving it a thorough test drive too. Not that I’m saying you’re the Jeremy Clarkson of the team… more like the Library Stig.
  7. LinkedIn: I believe my thoughts on LinkedIn are well known, but I found the debate around its usefullness (or not) a highlight. I enjoy hatin’…
  8. 23 Things is good for your health: Seriously. It’s cured (well, certainly alleviated the symptoms of) my extreme Socionephobia*.
  9. Twitter: This process has reinforced my love for Twitter, and transformed the workplace dynamic. #ilovetwitter
  10. The Lives of Others: Following on from [no.5], 23 Things has introduced many personal interests and topics into the day-to-day discourse: a love of knitting, Kindles, cult TV, technology, food, ovine economics, togas… etc. Turns out, we’re all a little eccentric in so many ways… #librariansarecooltoo
  11. Setting a Prezident: Bad pun: yes. New avenue for presentations: possibly. Strange travel-sick feeling whilst seated in a non-vehicular context: definitely.
  12. Picture Perfect: How hysterical was PhotoFunia?!
  13. Groove is in the Shark: Music isn’t really my Thing, but I liked using Grooveshark.
  14. Copyright: Let’s be honest, Copyright is very important and can be very dull. It was good to be able to explore this topic in a proactive manner.
  15. Google Reader: I’m still using it! And I’ve found it aided my enjoyment of catching up with everyone else’s blogs. I’ve crossed over to the dark side…
  16. Survey Monkey: I wont lie, this was my most anticipated new Thing. It was one of the reasons I signed up for the course. It’s not big, it’s not especially clever, but it was fantastically entertaining. Oh, and professionally viable in a modern Higher Educational context… (cough)…
  17. JamGate: Talk about water-cooler-moment! Never has a throwaway comment on toast toppings proven so explosive! Forget HackGate, LibyaGate and CherylGate- this was the talking point of the year. Amazing.
  18. Reflective Practice: I must admit, I’ve never been big on this concept. I hate reflecting on things as I have a tendency to procrastinate, ruminate and over think to the point of a nervous breakdown. However, I can see some of the benefits, and it’s something I will not shy away from in the future.
  19. Tagging: Tagging as a concept has largely passed me by. Not anymore. I intend to revisit this.
  20. Librarians Exposed: I was fairly naive to the nature of information professional careers outside of the traditional library context- the social networking, staying on top of online resources etc. Instructive to say the least.
  21. Time: Management, making use of, the possibilities of: a significant learning resource in itself.
  22. Tales of the unexpected: There were many hilarious and random moments over the last dozen weeks: a personal highlight was the Head of Information Literacy apologising for having voted for Robson & Jerome. The expression of anguish was remarkable…
  23. ? I’ve left his one blank, as who knows what’s in store..?

 

Goodbye 23 Things 2011. Good Times.

 

*Socionephobia: An intense fear and dislike of social networking.

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Right Royal Randomness

“So, how was your day at work?”

“Well; we all dressed in black, wore white roses, and then went to the pub, in order to mourn a dead monarch famous (or infamous) for being a loser/murderer/misrepresented victim.”

Definitely the most bizarre occurrence since I started working here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on board with the idea of fun in the workplace, a relaxed and engaging atmosphere, and strong team relationships (and let’s face it, I’m not going to complain about spending an hour and fifteen minute lunch break sat in the sunny pub beer garden, having drinks bought for me). But there’s no way to contextualise today’s happenings to outsiders; in the same way that it’s impossible to prepare newbies for their first encounter with the office porter.

It’s all about context. And the beauty of today was, at no point did it bother me that other people might wonder what on Earth was going on. In fact, I quite enjoyed observing the reaction of the bloke sat nearby, who stared at our wake, and then stumbled towards the bar with a look of bemusement/confusion etched across his face.

I’d much rather work somewhere with character and personality, as opposed to a bland corporate office full of disenfranchised, miserable & superficial individuals.

Do I have strong feelings about the sovereignty and historical representation of the last Plantagenet? No. Did that matter? No. Did I think it was worth joining the collective randomness? Yes.

Today tapped into everyone’s inner eccentric self, that part of us which doesn’t care whether people think we’re different.

So, not only did I raise my glass of lemonade to the memory of Richard III, but also to the joy of non-conformity. Long may it continue.

(Having said all that, we were bullied into wearing black under threat of death, and I’m writing this during the dying days of fashion freedom, before a new dress code is foisted upon us. Oh well, as long as I get a free drink out of it, I’ll do anything. My needs are simple. And if you want cogent, considered thought, go and read Aristotle or whoever. I’m more Katona than Kant…)

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Things Aint What They Used To Be…

 

Ok, I’ve shamelessly opened with a tenuously pun-related music video, completely stealing from Library Apocalypse’s project ethos. It’s an homage Library Apocalypse, really…

Anyway, here comes the science bit:

Books are dead. Front-line staff are unnecessary. Everything’s prefixed by an ‘E’. The traditional Library, as we know it, is dying:

slowly, painfully, lingeringly.

Ok, I don’t believe this for a second. But despite my traditionalist approach to such matters, I freely acknowledge that the world of information provision has changed, and continues to do so:

quickly, substantially, dramatically.

Supporting one’s education, and learning independently, are now vastly different concepts to what they once were; it’s central to our role, as academic library staff, to reflect this through the services we make available.

In the higher education sector, information literacy is about understanding: what information is, and how to go about using it.

I appreciate this is a loosely undefined definition; I don’t think I’m qualified to provide a better one. Unfortunately, many students seem unaware of just how important information literacy (and general library-related) skills are in a wider context. The Library is not merely a means to an end. The thought processes, learning/research skills, and ability to learn independently are both highly transferable and key to achievement. I am not sure this message- that using the Library is part of a degree/study programme- is always adequately emphasised.

When championing the work of the Library, we tend to focus a great deal on e-resources, and how these can facilitate remote user interactions; rightly so, because this self-service mechanism has increased educational opportunities tremendously. But, advocating information literacy is much more than merely offering up technology and content filled platforms. Being able to successfully adapt to suit specific learning styles, skill requirements, and time/economic/access constraints, can only be achieved through the efforts of people.

Unless the day of the super android has arrived (and last time I checked, it hadn’t) it remains the case that people are the defining factor when it comes to teaching and learning support.

It is essential for Libraries to be able to engage with Web 2.0 technologies in order to meet the expectations of the modern learner. To do this, it is up to Library Staff to stay ahead of, or at least in touch with, the game hand.

I believe that Web 2.0 Things, like those we looked at this week, could have an important role to play in the context of forming an institutional identity.

The University sector is becoming increasingly competitive, with pressure being placed on recruitment numbers, budgets and statistical outcomes. In libraries, we constantly benchmark ourselves against rivals in terms of staffing hours, resources and study space allocations. However, all universities face the same problems. All universities want to invest in e-journals, e-books and e-support.

The thing to bear in mind is, for students looking to plan their academic pathway, the criteria for decision-making is often tightly focused: reputation, history, job prospects, facilities, social life. I know from my experience of working on Open Days, when it comes to the Library, most students (and parents) want to see a traditional Library, but expect to hear about a Modern Library.

One of the ways in which we, as an institution, can attempt to differentiate ourselves from the competition, is to work at marrying these concepts more effectively. Utilising Web 2.0 tools innovatively could really transform perceptions of the services we provide; particularly as using mechanisms such as YouTube and Audioboo, would intrinsically involve real people connecting with real people.

Students and academics know they can be self-reliant. But they can only be self-reliant because of staff making it possible. Perhaps one way in which we can create a service USP is to find a way of personalising the experience of independent learning? Many of these exciting Web 2.0 Things we are examining not only provide an opportunity to showcase our creativity and ingenuity; but also represent a fantastic way for visitors and service users to explore the personality of the institution they are planning on investing their time and money in.

……….

Ok, the fun stuff.

YouTube: Video overload. Firstly, I had a look at the videos on the 23 Things blog. I wasn’t overly wrapped in the University of Sydney one (sorry); though I understood the point it was making, it felt a little laboured to me- by the time they got to the overhead shot of the pamphlets and croissants (a neat device) my interest had waned and I’d switched off.

Latrobe? God, what an awful video. It irritated me soooooooooo much, I lasted for about 30 seconds, and then I was like “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”

Liverpool’s Reading List Fever was less feverish for me, though I liked the concept.

Despite being overly long, I sort of enjoyed the Dr Who themed video (the Doctor made me chuckle) but, to be honest, I’m a Star Trek man…

 

I’ve selected a few YouTube finds to share with everyone, for different reasons:

This made me smile, and shows how crucial Libraries are to community life:

Although this next one is interminably long and dull, I really like the clarity of message/purpose being conveyed:

I’ve included this one on the basis that it feature Sesame Street:

This made me chuckle, even though it shouldn’t:

Lastly, I commend the organisation here (I’m sure we could pull off something similar, maybe to GaGa..?!):

I also urge you to Google ‘Library Ghostbusters’…

This is the only podcast I’ve ever bothered to download (stupid working on Fridays).

I found the Conclusions from this article fairly revealing…

I’m desperate to use Audioboo, but my lack of smartphone (and not having connected microphone to laptop at home) precludes me (stupid organisation fail).

Finally, music aint really my thing, but I had a lot of fun with Grooveshark: I’ve put together a playlist which, if you’re really bored (or are desperate to explore the horrors of my iPod and then judge me) you can check out.

It’s fairly reflective of my mental state recently. Having said that, I’m suddenly reminded of conversations at the start of the 23 Things project about revealing yourself/oneself/the self online (see Twinset & Purls for extensive, spot on, coverage of the topic…) Don’t read anything into that last bit. There’s nothing to see here people. No conclusions to be drawn. They’re just songs I like. Oh God, stop digging Chris.

Crap.

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Library 2012

So, I was watching the coverage of time passing ahead of the Olympics next year, and started thinking:

What if we had our very own Library Olympics?

We could have events, medals & ceremonies. Wear lycra. Eww, okay, maybe not the lycra- after all, it probably wouldn’t meet the dress code. Or, would it..?

Anyway, the events would obviously have to be library related, so I’m thinking:

  • Speed shelving
  • 100m book trolley dash
  • Hurdling the Level 2 barriers (some of the students would ace this)
  • Marathon (race up the stairs from Level 2 to 6, Empire State Run style)
  • 4x400m Processing Relay
  • 50k walk (we’d have to get the RMT on board for this one, shouldn’t be too difficult…)
  • DDDecathlon

We’ve got a Pool, and a tannoy for announcements, as well as access to national anthems online (my personal favourite is Italy). Ooh ooh ooh, and we’ve got some podiums going spare on Level 5!

Plus, with this Olympics, we’d all be guaranteed tickets.

All we need now is an organising committee. I suppose we could hijack re-imagine the new 2012 monitoring group, or whatever they’re called.

Good.  

That’s decided then. Perhaps I’ll bring this up at the staff meeting tomorrow..?*

(*I’m not going to be bringing this up at the staff meeting tomorrow).

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“Okay, Let’s Have A Threesome!”

Who knew impromptu Irish dancing could be so much fun?!

On Friday I went to a closure party which, on the face of it, sounds like some sort of dreadful post-break-up group therapy meeting. In fact, it was the closure party for the building where I used to work before joining City: the Whipps Cross Campus of London South Bank University. LSBU decided to axe the site prior to Christmas, leaving all of my former colleagues facing redundancy (so, I suppose you could call it a bad break-up of sorts…)

I first joined LSBU in 2001, when I decided to work for a year after leaving college. I rejoined again in 2004 after dropping out of university (don’t ask) and at the time, the plan was to go back to uni within a couple of years; instead, I worked there until May 2010.

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I loved my job at WX. Working at the site, which was little more than a glorified shed, was like being part of an intimate community. Everyone pulled together in the face of the unique challenges faced by an external campus. We were able to build relationships with the students and nursing staff, many of whom became ‘regulars’ over the years. And, I’m happy to say, I’ve made some lasting friendships with the people I worked with too.

It was because of these friendships that I went on Friday, to share in the experience of saying goodbye.

I was less than thrilled when I realised that I’d arrived just in time for the speeches… but, listening to staff members recounting tales from the 1970s (when the building was the local Nursing School), and recalling memories from the days when the PCs were BBC and not Dell, was fun; and hearing from students was especially touching, to know that they valued the support and experience they’d received/had. There were some special mentions, parting gifts (including for the site cleaner) and even a surprise vocal solo from one lecturer (just the right side of embarrassing), before the buffet was opened, the booze poured, and the music kicked into gear.

The whole event was sweet and parochial, which was about right. 

It was good to catch up with everybody, and hopefully there’s going to be a meal at some point in the near future, when we can properly reminisce about all of the fun, weird & crazy times we had. And oh yes, there were crazy times. It’s impossible for me to adequately cover everything in one mere blog post; however…

Here are my Top Ten WX moments:

  • TeaspoonGate
  • Cupboard of Doom
  • Mouse in the House
  • The Dead Body
  • Snowpocalypse
  • AppraisalGate
  • Making a Meal of it.
  • J’Accuse!
  • The Case of the Disappearing Librarian
  • To Catch a Thief (and let him go again)

Some people may have heard a few of these before. From my perspective, my experiences at WX, both good and bad, are framed and viewed with a huge dose of ironic satisfaction.

Even the bad times were good- particularly as they’ve kept me in a surplus of anecdotes for years!

Finally, I should explain- for some reason, the live entertainment was provided by an Irish folk band. At the end of the evening, I found myself roped in to taking part in the ‘last dance’, which turned out to be some sort of group Hoedown. First we formed a circle; then various characteristics were beckoned forwards to the middle (“All those wearing skirts” [clap] etc.); then we were ordered to “Swing with a partner”; then “Promenade with your partner”; and then, after several circuits to a jaunty Irish beat, for some inexplicable reason, the woman on the microphone shouted, “Okay, now let’s have a threesome!”.

Needless to say, it took some of us somewhat by surprise. I laughed so hard my sides hurt. Oh the havoc ignorance and Cava can wreak…

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