Thursday, August 21, 2008

Life since amalgamation

August already and I haven't posted since June! Well, life post amalgamation has certainly been interesting. I've had to amalgamate 3 budgets (very challenging); amalgamate fees and charges (so now operating with an amalgum of common fees but differing lending policies - also challenging); attempted to come to grips with the differing procedures and cultures of the 3 previous Councils (well really 4 Councils but almost uniquely in Australia one of our Councils had never offered a library service before - the citizens of that former area now have access to free library services for the first time in history!), have tried to amalgamate as many processes as possible prior to library system conversion (yes, three different brands of LMS!) and tentatively started discussion around our new united strategic direction. I must say it is very nice to go from 2 professional colleagues to share ideas with to 10! And also, by a process of adoption rather than birth, I have become involved in the tail end of a major new library construction (I'd previously been involved in the concept design phase with an architect on a project in my former role, but this is like being time warped forward without any memory of the middle bit). I'm on the fast track to learning about the argy bargy that goes on between architects, builders and our own engineers around the innumerable and mildly titled "requests for information" which in reality are a cut throat game of claim and counterclaim, sifting and interpreting the fine print in specifications, drawings and contracts, and requiring nerves of steel and skills similar to those of a top chess player (or possibly it's closer to poker). Scary but fascinating, and luckily I'm playing with people on my side who have played before. And my own hardhat and steel capped boots for site inspections! Glamorous!

Also this week had the pleasure of hosting actress Diane Cilento at the library for a chat about her life; and a delightful Children's Book Week event organised by a colleague on the successful model developed by her for the former city library, now significantly broadened to cover our whole region - a competition inviting the general citizenry to submit a children's book written and illustrated by the entrant, with various age ranges from under 5s, lower and upper primary, secondary and adult - with the winners invited along for a presentation of their prizes by the Mayor and a very wonderful talk by a former Australian Book Council judge Lindelle Lutton about the history of the Book Council's awards, and a discussion of this year's winners. Amazingly successful with around 60 in attendance - lots of kids and their parents to collect their certificates and get their photo taken with the Mayor - impressed the Mayor too I think. I had great fun judging the secondary students' category - some real talents there.

Next week off to Alice Springs - perhaps I'll go back to my old habits and live blog from the conference? I'll try. Then the "Interim" phase ends and I'll have to apply for a "real" job. Having had a taste of the big picture, I must admit to being pretty keen to retain the role. Wish me luck!