Monday, October 08, 2007

A new experience

Well, that's it, I think to myself. I have no more gifts to catalog, no more surrogates, level changes, or call number requests to work through. I've gotten caught up on my end of a project I'm working on in conjunction with someone from Circulation, and am awaiting further instructions (we correspond via email). I've sorted out everything in my problem pile. The only thing I have left to do is my last-resort project (ugh), the never-ending search-and-correct list from the Government Printing Office's Administrative Notes Technical Supplement. I can do that for a while, but after about four hours of unadulterated hey-I-already-fixed-this-record crap (Admin. Notes has a habit of repeating announcements a few times, just in case you missed them the previous month. And they mix them in with new announcements in such a way that you can't just cull out the stuff you've seen before. 'Cause it all looks the same after a while, see.), I'm going to be found under my desk, rocking slowly back and forth, sucking my thumb. Time to bite the bullet and go see a team mate.

"Hey, Bess?" I poke my head into my coworker's cubicle. "Do you have anything for me to do?"

She swivels around and scans her desk.

"Um. No. Well...wait! You could see what's going on with this." She indicates the gray tub just inside her entrance. "Holly thinks there's something wrong with the records, and I haven't looked at 'em yet. It won't take very long, but it's something."

"Okay!" I swoop down on the bin and carry it back to my desk. It doesn't take long, really, because there's nothing wrong with the records. I prettify them a little, write a longish note to Holly, put everything back into the bin and schlep it over to the mail room to be delivered. Half an hour down. Four and a half more to go. Not counting lunch. When I get back, Bess is in muffled conversation with Lana. I hear the phrase "not really enough to train her with" waft over a wall. They're trying to find something for me to do.

Bess comes over to visit a little while later.

"I'm going to talk to Janice about you needing stuff to do. This is a brand new experience for us. We've never been caught up before, and we've never, ever had to scrounge around for work. The monograph team is in a similar situation. It's weird. It's like no one's ordering anything. I think we need to ask for projects. Janice's out today, but I'll talk to her first thing Monday."

"Okay." My eyes drift to the red folder full of Admin. Notes photocopies, and I sigh inwardly. I can probably handle it if I know I won't be doing it all day, everyday. And Tracy might email with the next part of our project (hope springs eternal).


Bess emails our supervisor because she can't seem to catch her in her office when she's not busy. Janice answers the email quickly, and Bess forwards it to me with the comment that I should probably expect a visit after lunch.

And I do get a visit. I'm now going to be reclassifying of a bunch of serial microfilm from some obscure, arbitrary, in-house call number scheme over to Library of Congress call numbers. Not only that, but Janice told me to go ahead and contact the documents librarians about some cataloging projects they briefly mentioned they'd like done, but didn't go into detail about at the time. I tell Bess about this after Janice has left.

"Odd," I say. "Where I was before, things like this involved intense negotiation between my supervisor and the whoever wanted the work done, and I got brought in at the end. Now it's just me doing the talking."

"Uh-huh," Bess smiles.

"Is that normally how it works down here?"

"Well, sometimes. With some people, no it wouldn't. Some people around here you really have to watch closely, for a number of reasons. But sometimes...yes. With you, yes."

I look at her quizzically. "Because I know the documents collections so well, and I used to work with those folks?"

"She trusts you."

"Oh." Huh. So that's what that feels like.

[All names changed to protect the author]

1 comment:

G said...

Trust. That IS a thing to cherish. Like a baby, really - two people make it and watch it grow. But the good part is, it doesn't kick the toes out of its shoes and it doesn't bring unsuitable people home.