Wednesday, 2 January 2008

The library elves

Using a library is a bit like being a kid at home. There are always biscuits in the biscuit tin, clean clothes in your wardrobe and dinner on the table. It all happens as if by magic and you don't have to lift a finger or pay a penny for it. Marvellous!

It's not until you grow up that you realise that there isn't a dinner elf or a clean clothes fairy - it's all done by you poor hardworking mum. Later in life the same jobs are performed, perhaps, by your spouse, partner or flat mate, but the point remains the same. Dinner on the table doesn't just happen. Someone has to decide what to cook. trek down to the supermarket, prepare food, cook it, dish it up, wash up...

Having a library is somewhat similar. Admittedly we don't do your ironing for you or keep your larder stocked, but we do provide a lot of stuff that appears to you to miraculously materialise all on its own, for free, especially the bits you get online. However, most of that "free" stuff is bought and paid for either nationally, regionally or locally. There is a fair amount of admin work in the background to make sure you can access the bits you are entitled to, and not the rest. We check that Athens passwords are still valid, and issue new ones when you've lost yours. We compile and update spreadsheets of journals. We let you know what's new and what you can no longer access.

As with any domestic situation we can't please all the people all the time. In any family of four there will be at least four different favourite biscuits and the chances of finding them all in the biscuit tin at once are limited, because the biscuit budget doesn't stretch that far. The NHS family is HUGE and its tastes very varied, so we have to have metaphorical biscuits (journals) for doctors and nurses and physios and OTs and radiographers and managers and GPs and....

So next time you are looking in the biscuit tin please be aware that we couldn't afford all of your favourites because we had to think of the rest of the family. However, if you have a hankering for a particular journal article we will get it for you. Just fill in the form and ask. Easy peasy. It will materialise, apparently from nowhere, apparently for free. Marvellous! And while you're at it - spare a thought for the library elves.

(c) creative commons attributed image 1 image 2 image 3 image 4 image 5

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