Monday, February 15, 2010

The cost/value continuum. Or something.

Well, in common with many public servants, it is now the turn of us library staff to have a review of our usefulness to society, and the value of of our work. And in common with quantum mechanics, this process is so complex and impenetrable that you need a degree in micro physics to work it out.
The local council has been doing its job evaluation for what seems like months, and finally last week we all received a telephone directory sized letter containing our new salary, plus an explanation of how they decided what we should be paid. Professional skills count for nought, with some of our qualified CILIP registered librarians being downgraded. Random groups of staff seem to have been awarded extra pay for duties they do once a blue moon on a Tuesday, which the rest of us are capable of, but don't do regularly. And how do you compare a library which has just two staff, with a large branch library which has local studies specialists and a children's department running activities all year round? All this against a background of a questioning of library services in general - what are we for, who are we for, and who should pay for it, and how much?
Perhaps we should have an X Factor style council vote - give each council service a month or so to prove its worth, appoint a panel of sneering local dignitaries to pass comment, and then let the public vote where their money goes.
"My name is Dorothea, and tonight I'm going to be a slightly aging but vigorous building that has seen better days, containing all the world's knowledge, several tramps, the phone number you will need if the pavement outside your house needs seeing to, a baby morning, illicit sexual thrills (if you know where to look), several hundred years worth of local information, last months newspapers (though unfortunately some with offer coupons missing), and the award the town got in 2006 for best floral display that the council didn't know what to do with."
OR "My name is Egbert, and tonight I am the Pathfinder Project Coordinator for your town. I do flowcharts, and spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations, sometimes with a laser pointer for added effect. Last year I came top for cost savings in the quasi local quango sector...hello? Anybody listening?"
It's a no-brainer, surely?

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