Another staff training session with a bunch of short-sighted librarians squashing their noses up against the monitors to get to grips with the new Circe system. ‘With this you can right-click your way to insanity,’ said Stanislav Popovic the humorless Polish techie. Why, I wondered, do we name our computer programmes after a deadly enchantress? Perhaps we’ve been in the libraries for years under a reverse spell of boredom while we secretly frolic on a magical island.
‘How exciting,’ said Chris the reference librarian from Sidcup, ‘the catalogue will be going live on Wednesday…’ This guy was really excited. His talk was all about ‘populating the borrower tables…’ He had those beige slacks that crumple up when you sit down making it look like you’ve got a great big stiffy for the borrower sitting next to you. Maybe it was a stiffy for the wonderful Iranian beauty, Zarida, who was putting in a final bid for some curling tongs on eBay. She looks like she’s stepped out of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, even in the unlikely surroundings of Nandos where her suitors congregate in the evening, queuing up to buy her spicy chicken breasts and demonstrating their ability to think inside her box.
I took a look at who I was and what I’d become. Men in stained pullovers with dandruff and eczema whose idea of being naughty is bingeing on blue smarties. Does your job define you? Is there enough of an inner life to differentiate you from Chris, over by the whiteboard, gobbling a blueberry muffin. Or perhaps Chris is doing a better job than you of achieving the right work/life balance? He was lapping it all up… ‘Circe is architected to be open, scalable and robust, offering a complete out-of-the-box solution, and unparalleled flexibility. Complemented by the most unfriendly training, consulting and support staff in the industry.’ He smiled across at Zarida assesssing her robust scalability and then tucked into a ginger nut.
Popovic droned on about the new Circe system and its prototypes. There was Mage 2000, The Great Beast and now Circe a system designed to enchant borrowers, keep them in the library as long as possible. ‘They simply follow trails for non-existent books. Books that have vanished from the special collection years ago.’ Classics like Growing Flowers by Candlelight.
‘The beauty,’ continued Popovic, ‘is that the multi-tiered search system is highly addictive and… inconclusive. Great for beefing up our stats… the greatest work of fiction in the entire library!’