This is my fifth school and my fourth library construction project. Granted, the first school/project was mostly over when I started, but I did reap the aftermath of having had everything rewired (essentially ripping out the job we’d paid for and used without a hitch for a few years, turning the system into something that was incredibly glitch), which required storing all the library and office supplies as well as sealing the shelves of books behind plastic tarps. It was a fun way to start my library career.
The next school had just finished refurbishing the library, updating it in honor of the recently deceased Head of School (who died the night before graduation two years earlier – yikes!). I had to figure out the networking and purchase an automation system and computers, which was relatively easy back then. I also got to barcode all the books and do the first full inventory in quite some time. Then, a few years later, the school decided to expand its physical plant, adding the equivalent of 1/3 the floor space to each of the floors and the building a new floor on what was now the roof. The construction hit a few snags, like discovering a subbasement (had to get the historical people involved to see if it needed extra excavation or if it could just be filled in). But slowly and surely it moved on… and then, one Wednesday, the Head of School came to see me. His news was that he had just learned that the “breaking through” of the then outer wall into the new space would take place on the following Monday. And at least 1/3 the library needed to be packed up.
Did I mention this was a Wednesday? Thursday was Graduation. Friday was final faculty meetings. So Saturday was the day. Luckily I had two very kind people help me out. I think I still owe them for that, to be honest. We got everything packed and neatly labeled. No one thought to tell me that more needed to be done (no one told the Head of School, either), so you can imagine my surprise and pleasure at finding other shelves emptied into boxes. And not in anything resembling shelf order. Oh, and the day school started? My first day back? There was a Nor’easter and the rooftop sprang a leak sending water pouring down the elevator shaft. Luckily we’d raised the floor of the library, but it was less than an inch from getting flooded there, too.
For the final stop in my career, I’d hoped not to do anything like the above. But then, they offered to build a new library space. I’m intrigued. We have meetings and plans and work on part of our current space was supposed to start last year but–surprise!–a pandemic put paid to that. So things got pushed back a year. No problem. Starting in February, my amazing library assistant became Mr. Archives, organizing and arranging items to be taken to off-site storage. The basement area got emptied out. All is chugging along. Until last Friday…
Turns out, the basement hadn’t gotten completely emptied out. More archives stuff (and some other completely irrelevant-to-the-school-today items)
were brought to the first floor. Did I say first floor? Oh, yes (I was informed) we need to pack up our office, our work/storage room and another office. Preferably by Friday.
This time, however, I have a great staff, and great support from the school. Working Monday, yesterday and today, we packed and threw away a lot of stuff. And by 11:00 this morning, we were done. At 11:45, they removed our desks. We have a place to work right now, if we need it. And a classroom to work in over the summer. Come mid-late August, we’ll be moving back in with a new library assistant (ours is leaving to get a PhD). I hope their library construction career is a little less fraught than mine!