Monday, February 22, 2010

Life Is

...just one damned thing after another.
-Elbert Hubbard

Two weeks ago we finally finished cataloging all the items that we were planning to catalog in the town library. The next step in the automation process was to be two days of training on the new system and those two days were last Thursday and Friday. I was looking eagerly looking forward to them both but ended up feeling disheartened, disappointed, and exhausted by the whole thing.

Each one of those two days saw me leave my house at 0730 (7:30 AM) and not returning to it until around 1800 (6:00 PM) after a round trip drive of 141.8 miles. That is the exhausting part of this story. The disappointing part was the training experience itself. First, let me say that the instructor from the company that created the software for the new automation program was a very nice man who was very enthusiastic about his product. The problem was that he was a lousy teacher who was trying to shove too much information in to our brains (ten people from five different small towns) in too short of a time period.

Here is one story that shows how frustrating this experience was for us. Someone asked him how a specific operation was preformed and he proceeded to give a detailed description of a complicated procedure that we all carefully copied down in our notebooks. When he finished he said, "Now I will show you a simpler way of doing this."

I heard muffled groans from around the table and saw, out of the corner of my eye, my head librarian's shoulders slump in defeat. I knew she had just mentally given up.

The dishearted feeling came when we learned we were not almost done, as we thought we were, with the "getting the new system into place so we can start using it" part of the automation process. This we realized when we found out that getting our patrons into the new system was not going to be a simple as we thought and that learning how to used the system was more complicated than we expected.

Today after having a weekend to think about all this I am feeling much better. I realize that we just need to take this one step at a time and take as much time as we need to thoroughly understand the new system before we actually begin to use it. This will save us time and frustration in the long run. I am also going to create a small notebook that explains how to search for a book, pull up a patron's record, check books in and out, put books on reserve, and run reports step by step in simple English. Right now we have a set of instructions that use phrases like "Enter a search argument and click SEARCH." What they mean is "Enter the book title and click SEARCH," and that is exactly what I will write in the notebook.

Life is good again.

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