Posted by: paultovell | November 19, 2009

An introduction to Staffordshire

3 days into the new job, and I thought I’d record what has happened so far.  On day 1 I met lots of people (about 35 of us work in Burton library – the busiest library in Staffordshire) and had all sorts of inductions and chats with my line manager, the District Manager.  All library assistants are organised into teams – I am the leader of the Books, Reading and Learning team, which consists of 9 people.  Very different from Nottinghamshire, where there are no teams like this.  Disadvantage is the old silo problem, but advantage is that you get very good and experienced at your specialism.  They showed me how things are done in Burton, but kept repeating that I could change things if I wanted to.  Perhaps they could see the confused look on my face at times.

Burton Library

Burton-on-Trent Library

Day 2 began with a trip to Stafford, a frighteningly long way away, but the HQ as far as the county is concerned.  I had a meeting with all the District Managers – in fact, I invaded their meeting as a good way to get to know them.  Lots of people, including my role, get to have a say on what the priorities are for the service, which is great – in fact, it kind of starts with all the team leaders.  Then they go back to the libraries management team for refinement.  So this meeting talked about those a lot, which was very interesting, if a little hard to follow due to anagram overload.  They also allocate funding a lot through bidding – which it sounds like I need to quickly become very good at doing.  When they found out I’d only started the day before, I nearly drowned under a wave of sympathy.  Next we went back to Uttoxeter library, in my district.  This is a very bright, exciting library where we had a cup of tea before heading back to Burton.  I finally got to sit at my desk and meet my direct report as well, who filled me in on what had been happening while the post had been vacant.  Finally left for home at 6 and was pleasantly surprised at how much of the traffic had found its way off the A38 by then.

Today I had a meeting at Uttoxeter again with the person in charge of learning and resources for the county (good example of learning and reading sitting very well together).  She effectively defines my workload as much as my line manager does.  We went over all the priorities and different parts of my role – mammoth amount to take in, but sounds like I’ll be very well supported – there are 7 other people doing the same job as me in different districts, one of whom I’m meeting on Monday.  After this, we went to Rolleston-on-Dove – a little village which has a travelling library one day a week (it sits in a car park for 10 hours on a Monday and is different from a mobile library because it’s about 10 feet longer and much harder to park – cue parking stories of days gone by from the two friendly people who staff it).  Had a very quick look at the stock before it was on to visit my last library in the district – Barton-under-Needwood.  This is a village with a massive secondary school in the middle of it, and the library is right next to it.  Hardly any of the children live in the village; a load of coaches ferry them in and out again.  Library needs a bit of work, particularly the lighting and the rather quaint and delicately placed trophy cabinet, but there were a few people around.  Not to mention the first decorated Christmas tree of the year… it obviously comes early in Staffordshire!



  1. Wow, that’s some serious travel!

    Will you always be this untethered, or is it just because you are in your first week?

    • Ha, I like the idea of being “untethered” – that should be in the job description somewhere! As a librarian within a district there will always be a fair bit of travelling around, and meetings rotate too. But I quite like the variety anyway, and a lot of the Staffordshire countryside is gorgeous too!

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