The joy of unpacking

When we last left Ian, like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives…, he said, optimistically, “looks like the unpacking will be up to me (which I’m quietly pleased about, because I need to do lots of culling).”

Library 7

Well, here we are at Day #2 of Project BER and things are going swimmingly. On Tuesday I wandered around my new BER library space in a daze for about two hours, tinkering here and there, unpacking a box here, having lessons in lights and door locks there, but I was able to coerce a teacher-librarian colleague to check out the job facing me and we agreed things weren’t too bad at all. But what a challenge!

The previous library was hideously overstocked and over-furnished, so looking at the bare minimum new library furnishings allocated to a school of our population, and the hundreds of cartons needing to be unpacked, was very difficult. The Principal’s first comment was that there seemed to be “lots of shelves” but I knew immediately there was much less than we’d had before. I resolved to let that panic aid in my cull. A friend commented tonight that it was appalling that a TL had to do his own unpacking, but I explained that it’s my job to do the decision-making on what I cull – and I’d much rather cull as each box is emptied, and do so methodically. There certainly won’t be enough shelves to take the full capacity of all the boxes. (We had a team of eight pro packers to pack up the old library, but it happened so fast I couldn’t cull as we went. I could barely keep up with labelling. Just imagine the mess if they had come back to unpack and only got halfway through before running out!)

I realised today that, had I tried to cull stock in the old library, I couldn’t have been this ruthless. In the new library, surrounded by the wonderful smell of newness, culling is easy. “Do I really want this old, wrinkled, stained book (that I recall borrowing at my own primary school in the 60s) on the new, pristine shelves?” Nah. Easy! Imagine if we’d received exactly the replacement furniture that we’d had before: I wouldn’t have culled much at all, and we’d end up with the same problems we’d had before.

Yesterday on my own, Junior Fiction A-C then back to teach a class of school camp leftovers. Today all day plus a trained helper, Junior Fiction D-Z and Fiction A-O, culling all the way! Good progress, methinks. The Principal has taken me off most of my teaching responsibilities for the time being, our head clerical sourced a trained library assistant for two days (to start), my regular SASS person is ducking across at every spare opportunity (library is only one-fifth of her weekly duties) and we are aiming to have the library open for Week 7, running to the usual timetable. This being Week 2 of the term, my door-to-door wandering minstrel act is finally over. This strategy will give the students their first taste of the new library before 2010 ends. Normally I’d be stocktaking the last three weeks but I’m going to try to get the disposed items noted in OASIS (and to complete a stocktake) after getting all the boxes unpacked.

I’m blissfully happy, but dusty, after a full day of drudgery that is unpacking. Books, books, books, a bear, a chook (great help, not – see above pic), and more books. Tomorrow I’m on my own again, and in the afternoon I’m back teaching the class of school camp leftovers. On Friday, my trained helper is back. Two parents have also popped in today, offering their services whenever I need it. We are getting there! Wish me luck!

Towards the back is a small selection of the many boxes yet to be opened.

9 thoughts on “The joy of unpacking

  1. Envious of anyone who got a new library. Our new shelves are great but can’t compete with a whole new space! Enjoy.

  2. Ian, it is so exciting! I, too, love the colour. I do so hope mine are the same. I love blue! I really am not keen on overstimulating colours!

    Does the school receive financial assistance to help fund the packing and having you off class? We have an acting principal who knows nothing about what is to happen. I am a little concerned. I am madly culling now!

    Keep up the great work! 🙂

  3. Enjoy the dust, smell and the excitement! I walked through our new BER library (Leichhardt PS) last week and felt like a little kid at Xmas. (Ours should be ready soon for sign off)Can’t wait!

  4. I loved your shoestring makeover ideas for the old library, Ian but this is amazing. It is so spacious! Bring on the cull. We know that less is best but it is SOOOOO hard to dispose of books that WE love.

  5. Hi,

    I have just been reading some of your archives re your unpacking!! I saw the workers on Tuesday (I work Mondays and Tuesdays) dumping (anywhere they could) all the books etc, in fact EVERYTHING that was in the library prior to the refurb.

    Prior to the Term 3 holidays, I went off on sick leave (I had my back operated on plus a joint removed from a finger on my right hand- I tell you this only so you will understand why I am now stressed out re undoing the mess and getting everything back). I had put things, including books, into lidless boxes, all of which I had to grab or beg for at the supermarket and we didn’t have time to label properly etc… So now I am absolutely dreading the next step. I read that you had some assistance – I mentioned this to my principal but have heard no more!!!

    Think of me starting off the new year!!! I suppose I will have to take classes, too, at the same time!!! I live quite a way away from my school so it won’t be possible to travel in my own time on my non teaching days !!! Do you have a magic wand??

    Sue Mac

  6. Hi Sue,

    I insisted upon meetings with the site manager and the Principal, and we probably only got the packers and commercial moving boxes supplied because I mentioned others had shared horror stories on the listservs. Random supermarket boxes don’t stack neatly, for a start. My Principal and head SAS person located a small amount of spare funding to get me some SAS extra time for the unpacking, plus a few mums volunteered some time.

    I would mention your concerns about trying to teach and unpack at a staff meeting. If staff want fast access to the collection, they may/should be willing to give up some library time to let you unpack in a more orderly fashion. Teachers aren’t unreasonable, especially if they know it will benefit them long term. It would be a hard teacher indeed who’d expect you to unpack only in your “spare” time. I quite surprised mine by being ready a whole week early; and they’ve all been extremely appreciative to use the library when most schools are stocktaking.

    Good luck!

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