Sunday, February 27, 2005

D-Day: 26 Feb 2005

D-Day came and went -- the first day of BMCL's reopening to the public, I mean. I couldn't have asked for more. Everything went well. There were no major problems and those that did occur were non-critical and already anticipated (i.e. staff were briefed and trained to deal with them). Customers were genuinely appreciative of the upgraded collection, facilitites and equipment. As usual, the crowd was hungry to be the first to get to the new books.

The kids obviously enjoyed themselves.

We worked 10 hours for our first day (9am - 7pm), closing the library 45 minutes after the official closing time (which was expected, as the larger than normal first-day crowd took a longer time to finish their borrowing transactions from the self-service machines). Then we spent half an hour straightening the messy collections, and almost another hour for an operations-debriefing to summarise the issues encountered on our first day, so that we work out specific action plans for the next few days. If the above sounds like some military operations, well in truth we're not too far off from one. There were so many things that could have gone wrong. Nothing major happened and luck had little to do with it.

I'm not sure how many Singaporeans appreciate the work that goes into upgrading a library and maintaining it. Some people think the library staff get to enjoy a long break during the closure. I'd like them to try working with us for a day. Idea -- NLB should seriously consider a blog to post regular updates on the progress of work behind the scenes.

Today reminded me of why I entered the public service: I get that sense of satisfaction seeing people, from the very young to the very old, quietly enjoying themselves in the library (some not so quiet, but that's ok -- we're not so uptight about that sort of thing nowadays). Speaking to some of them reaffirmed to me that the library (and the people who make NLB work) is making a positive difference in their lives. It makes all that stress and anxieties more palatable.

Oh -- so far, we've not encountered any really difficult customers yet (i.e. those who think the entire world owes them a living). I know they will come -- it's a matter of time. But let them. I always remind myself of this excerpt from Rumi's poem (from the poetry collection "Feeling the shoulder of the lion" translated by Coleman Barks):
"Don't burn a blanket because of one flea! Don't waste a day on trivial irritation, some gnat's headache."

My colleagues and I will start work in about 9 hours time for the second day of the reopening. It will be a 7 to 8 hour shift for us on this Sunday. I usually do not work on Sundays though.

I'm getting sentimental here -- must the the high from a successful opening. These BMCL folks -- the Library Assistants, Library Officers, Admin Officer, and Librarians -- deserve all the credit for the success of the reopening. Damn proud of you all lah!

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