Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Yes, I'm a Bitch, Pt. 2


She won't let the work studies have a television at the desk to watch the big basketball game! Ack, for shame, Vampire Librarian! FOR SHAME!

Never mind that University Z wasn't even in the big game. So why the hell should I care? Actually, I wouldn't care even if they were.

There are only two times during the week that Library X is empty of full-time staff. They are Friday and Saturday nights. I am in charge of hiring graduate students to cover those nights and close the building. I think the semblance of power has gone absolutely to their heads.

Last Saturday, Cedric, one of my work studies (as in I sign his time sheet) decided to set up a television at the circ desk, and turned it to the basketball game. Not really anything I could do about that. I am off on Saturdays. And if Cedric had put it back Saturday night, we wouldn't have this post.

When I came into work on Sunday, the television was still set up at the circulation desk. The day staffer for Sunday told me that he didn't know where it'd come from, but he'd left it alone. We sometimes do set up a television to a particular channel for various things. The last time we did was for President Ford's funeral.

I decided to let the television be for the time being. Nobody was paying attention to it, and I still thought maybe a staff person had set it up for a valid reason, and I would have an email telling me why.

Cedric came on shift shortly afterward and told me, "Oh, the television is still set up. Cool. I put it there on Saturday."

I quirked an eyebrow at him. "You set up the television?"

"Yeah, I wanted to watch a basketball game. It wasn't that busy."

"Well, you're not supposed to do that, and the television isn't going to stay."

He tried to backtrack. "Well, it also helped with the community members and drunk students who came in on Saturday night. They would zone out in front of it."

I quirked my other eyebrow, but didn't call him on this unlikely benefit seeing how the television was very squarely pointed at the circulation desk. I tried to do some work while Cedric and another work study manned the circulation desk. After a little while, I noticed a lot of students around the circulation desk.

I went to the front to better see what the situation was. All of the students were staring at the television. One jokingly asked if he could come behind the desk for a better view. The students were practically three rows deep watching this television.

Seeing the desk swamped with all these sports fans, I decided something needed to be done to clear up all the congestion at the desk. During a commercial break, I moved the television to point out to the floor. I announced to the gathered students they could move some chairs around so they could all watch more comfortably. Cedric instantly complained, "Don't move the television, there's only two minutes left in the game."

"It's a commercial break, and I want to free up the circulation desk."

"At least slant it this way."


"But you don't get it-" and he looked anguished.

"If you want to watch it so bad, go ahead." (I know, I can't believe I said it either. You can't even tell how mad I am by this whole affair.)

I hung out at the desk, helping students, and the game was eventually over. Cedric decided to complain to me again that he was the one who put the television up so why did I move it.

"First of all, don't tell me to not to do something. Second of all, you're on the job, and your job description does not include watching TV. And third, nobody can get to the desk to check in or out stuff with all these people blocking it."

He wouldn't let it drop.

"It really did help with the drunks and the community members."

I took a deep calming breath. "Drunk students are not allowed in Library X. You can tell them to leave and call UPD if they became unruly."

"Well it's hard to tell that they're drunk when they come in and go straight to the bathrooms."

"That's fine. As long as they aren't bothering other students, they can come in and use the restrooms."

"Yeah, but then they sort of hang around and talk loudly. With the TV, they went glassy eyed and stayed quiet."

"Okay, but you saw what happened tonight. We don't have a television set up here because in the past, students clumped up and blocked traffic. You should have seen the crowds when we had a television for the world cup. A television near the circulation desk hinders circulation activities. That's why we don't want one here."

(Quick factoid: Cedric also works at another university library.)

"Yeah, but the Science Library has televisions set up sometimes at various desks, and it doesn't seem to bother anything there."

Okay, that was it. The arguement was over because there shouldn't be an arguement. I pointed at the television. "Go put the television back wherever you found it and don't ever set it up again."



(And this isn't even the end of the brouhaha with Cedric that night. That will come in part 3.)


Monday, March 26, 2007

Yes, I'm a Bitch pt.1

I'm going to get a bunch of T-shirts made up with, "Yes, I'm a Bitch, do as I say, and don't argue with me," because I've been wasting far too much time arguing with work studies. (They already think the first part anyway.) They insist on arguing with me even when I tell them that something isn't library policy, state law, or in the honor code.

It started with breaks. Work studies were insisting that I was required to give them breaks when they work four or more hours. I told them no, state law requires me to give you an unpaid meal break if you work six hours. It was even posted where we keep their timesheets. No, they insisted, I must give them a break if over four. I found the state labor law and University Z policy detailing breaks. Guess who was right? Guess who wouldn't believe/listen to me when I told them?

I finally sent out this email to all the students for whom I am the direct supervisor. I sign these guys' timesheets. I'm their BOSS. Somehow that doesn't seem to faze them.

Hi Ref. Assistants,

There have been issues in the recent past concerning breaks. University Z requires supervisors to give student workers an unpaid meal break if the student works six or more hours at a time. That is the only break we are REQUIRED to give you.

Supervisors are allowed, at their discretion, to allow students to take short "on the clock" breaks if they work four or more hours. This is not a guaranteed break. And will not always be allowed.

As reference assistants, a higher level of responsibility is expected of you. A couple of you work when there is no staff in the building. At those times, you are the person in charge. You should not be taking breaks. I also expect you to be responsible when I am away taking my meal break or am otherwise engaged. Breaks at such times are not allowed.

Times when breaks are not allowed:

1.When there is only one student working the desk (that would be you).

2.When there are two students but no staff available. The could mean no staff is currently on shift or the only staff person is otherwise engaged, such as the only staff person is helping students find books, clearing printer jams, patrolling the building, on the phone, or away from the desk for whatever reason. Taking a break is not allowed.

3.When things are hectic. You cannot just drop everything and leave when there is high demand.

If you wish/need to take a break, you must inform a staff a person at least a half hour in advance (an hour is preferable), and there is no guarantee that you will be able to take a short 10-15 minute break when the time comes, especially during any of the instances listed above.

Breaks cannot be stored. You can't take a half hour break because you didn't take a break yesterday. You cannot leave fifteen minutes early because you didn't take a break. You can't come in fifteen minutes late and claim that was your break. You cannot be paid for time that you were late or left early.

This does not include brief bathroom breaks, trips to the vending machines, or other types of short trips away from the desk which take usually less than five minutes. Please be responsible when taking these types of breaks as well.

Alerting me or your coworker when you need to step away from the desk for any reason is a good general rule.

If you have any questions, please let me know.


The Vampire Librarian

Instantly after the email, I had complaints. One said, "I substituted for someone for three hours in the morning and then came back to work five hours in the evening. I think I should be given a meal break."

Well did you ask for a break? Did you give me any warning? Did I know you'd worked three hours in the morning? No to all of them. (And I don't really care that you picked up a sub-shift. Nobody twisted your arm to do that.) You just decided that it would be great to go heat up a Hot Pocket when there was no other work studies on shift, and it was busy. Just saying bye as you go to the back is not appropiate.

Another tried to argue that if she's the only work study at the desk, then she's doing twice the work so shouldn't she get a break? Uh, no. If you're the only student on shift, that means there's only you and me, and I'm not letting you out of my sight. (And no, you don't get paid double!)

Did you not read the email? Did I not make myself clear?

I think I was rather lenient with them, but they seem to think I am the ultimate in unfair bosses. Well tough. Do as I say (or rather do as I email) and don't give me lip. I don't have to rehire you. I don't have to do anything. You, on the other hand, do. You have to do what I freaking tell you. Don't argue with me.

Yes, as you can tell from the title there are going to be more parts to this. I hope you all are up for some venting.

You are free to tell me that I am a bitch. That I'm being rather unfair. That I should be nicer to the work studies. Please, go ahead. I've heard it a gazillion times already. And I get a perverse pleasure from comments. No matter what they say.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lost and Found Envy

Currently we have an iPod shuffle in lost and found.

I haven't joined the iPod Nation yet because the price has always deterred me, and I have no everyday reason to wear one. I don't run or walk. If I shelved, it would be nice, but no part of my life would be dramatically improved by owning an iPod, but this one is so small and cute that it is very tempting to come up with a reason.

When other iPods have found their way to our lost and found drawer, I glanced at them and said, "Heh." This one fooled me. I didn't even know it was an iPod at first. Sure the headphones were still connected, but it's so small. I played with it and listened to some of the music. And then I looked at the price. The Apple store has them listed at $79 with free engraving and shipping and handling. Not too shabby. I want one, but I don't want to get it and then not use it.

The Shuffle has been in lost and found for a couple of weeks now. The student workers have all laid dibs on it. If it's here for much longer, I'm gonna have to do a raffle to see who gets it.

Now, I have tried to find the owner. I even called Apple customer service to see if they could contact the owner or something, but they couldn't help me. They suggested I post flyers, but I'm loathe to do that because no one looks at flyers, and I don't want to have to start doing that with every high dollar item that lands in lost and found.

UPD cannot guarantee reuniting the owner with the iPod. They can't get the information from Apple either. The owner has to report it lost or stolen for them to know to possibly get it back to them.

So I'm stuck with this iPod for now, and I want it. Why do the students taunt me so? They leave all this cool, neat stuff, and I drool over it. It's just not fair. Why can't I have nice toys? Oh that's right, I work in a library.

Other things in lost and found: various camera phones, thumb drives, and a Toshiba laptop.

(I just picked up the laptop. It had a freaking note from the student saying, "I left my stuff at the first table by the window. Move there if you wanna." Are you freaking kidding me? It's now sitting on my desk with the text books she'd left at the other table. I cannot believe these students sometimes.)


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Not Paid Enough

I'm still in training. It got pushed back a couple of weeks due to inclement weather so I'm still going to be scarce.

Remember my post mentioning something I'm not paid enough to do? Here is a quick list of several more I've discovered.

I'm not paid enough to:

1. Deal with vomit. Had a student regurgitate everything she'd eaten in a week onto the carpet of the second floor. I had to go down, cover it up, and rope off the area. Never want to do that again.

2. Catch small animals. Had a bat in a library classroom. (I know the IRONY! But seriously those suckers (heh) could have rabies. I ain't touching one. Imagine it: A vampire with rabies. Not good.) Luckily it wasn't flying around. A teaching assistant caught it, and I became the proud custodian of a bat in a box. Called UPD and gave it to them. They said they'd make sure it was cared for. UPD is pretty awesome sometimes.

3. Live in a hotel. The library may have paid for the room, but I don't like staying in a hotel. Due to the inclement weather, I've had to stay in a hotel for multiple nights instead of going home to my cozy bed. The hotel was not five star. The power went out one night, the cable was fritzy, I didn't get a smoking room, and why don't hotels supply hair conditioner anymore?

4. Tail thugs as they wander around the stacks. Three guys, who obviously weren't students, decided it'd be fun to just wander aimlessly around the building. We were packed due to midterms--a lot of laptops, I-pods, and wallets were just laying around. I spoke to the guys, and made my presence known and didn't let them out of my eyesight until they exited the building. I could've gotten a lot of other stuff done in the hour this took.