My partner’s corporate library has finally been organized, with a little unexpected help from other office staff. Time will only tell if it will STAY organized.
The 4-week process, which really in the end only needed 1 week to to do began with the weeding out of non-essential publications and reports during load-shedding (when there was no power) and when there was no load-shedding, development of their classification scheme.
My main goal was for the office staff to take ownership of the project and to support them through the process. We went through a brainstorming exercise of figuring out different ways of organizing their information that made sense for them and devised a plan on how to maintain the library and make it useful and interactive (rather than making it a simple storage facility as it is now).
We did an information audit by identifying the types of information that they had (reports, training manuals, publications, etc.) and how they needed to be accessed. We also identified common themes (subject headings) and even discovered useful reports that they forgot they even had. It was decided that in the end that the most easiest way to classify their publications was by program sector:
- Peace Building through income generation
and everything else came under GWP reports and training manuals. The items were then sub-categorized by author and then by year. The cataloguing scheme was simple and simplicity was the key for long-term success (in my opinion) for this organization.
My counterpart was enthusiastic at first as she devised the categories and then helped with the initial weeding and sorting. She was really keen on organizing the library and also wanted to create an online library catalogue (whoa). It was an ambitious goal considering that I very well knew that we needed time (lots of time), electricity (smirk) and meticulous dedication to catalogue each and every item (all qualities of a good librarian).
However, as I feared as time went on, her interest in the project began to diminish and eventually we were stuck for almost 3 weeks with piles of books and publications scattered all over the floor. It wasn’t until the thulo manchee (big boss) became impatient and expressed her passive-aggressive unhappiness about the state of corporate library.
With my tail between my legs, head down, and abandoned I began to label each file case and started to re-shelve each item into our new classification scheme all by myself. To my surprise however, as it was foolish of me to feel otherwise, I had received some help from the office peon staff.
Peon – is a term here that they use for office helpers and are often considered “low” employees. In some places, (definitely not in the ones that I have worked in and seen) they are treated with less respect and they rarely speak unless spoken too. It’s sad to hear and I do not tolerate it as the best relationships that I have here are with peons.
My office help staff, Shyam and Mena mainly manages the bank transactions (a.k.a goes to the bank and makes deposits), sends out faxes and mail, makes photocopies, cleans the office, and most importantly makes milk tea. Essentially, they take care of us and make sure the office runs smoothly and thus I think that is why they were at my side. They recognized the need and the importance of an organized library and for the whole day, they helped me translate titles and authors and shelved items in the right place. After only a few hours, we were done.