A while after the event, I come to write up the last day of the Library Day in the Life week, which was Friday 30th July. I'm not sure how this will help those thinking of a career in librarianship, or those seeking a better understanding of the profession, for I hope it is atypical. For this was my last day, having been told at 4 pm the day before that I was to be made redundant. It was also Polly's last day, who had run one of our campuses for six months and in that short time had worked miracles; everyone will be very sorry to see her go. Apart from her professional attributes, she was a tower of strength in solving the Guardian cryptic crossword.
I started the day with our morning prayers meeting, with doughnuts (proper jam-filled ones, not the transatlantic apologies that seem so popular nowadays) provided by Polly. Then at 10 I she and I had an exit interview, to review her time with the college. I passed the rest of the morning penning handover notes, compiling lists of logins to various e-resources sites to hand over to Ewa, the E-Resources Co-ordinator and so on. Then I went for a final lunch at the excellent Pantry, where Dave and his staff, the food, and the graceful and attentive service, have done so much to keep me sane in the past two years.
Then back for another meeting with Margaret, the other campus manager, to wrap up issues from her site. I spent the afternoon continuing the handover, putting out-of-office messages on the phone and e-mail, cutting up my college credit card and returning it to finance (I used it once, for train travel to the CoFHE/UC&R conference in Exeter) and packing those personal effects one accumulates in an office: a phone charger, paracetamol and so on.
The afternoon did not drag, and I left, leaving the keys to my office for my successor and handing in my ID badge to security on the way out. They seemed shocked. Life in FE colleges is rather like that in South American fascist dictatorships: people disappear, and are never spoken of again. I left. I felt a sense of liberation, that never again would I have to enter that consummately ugly building that squats on the High Street like some batrachian monster. There is a prison nearby; I often wondered if they used the same architects.
I went to the florists to collect flowers for Polly, and we reconvened in a pizza restaurant; the event had been planned to mark Polly's departure and we presented her with some tokens. I was touched that, in spite of the short time involved, they also presented me with a card, a book, Foyle's Philavery and a voucher. With some wine, pasta and a glass of grappa inside me, I went home content.
Kathy and Joan anticipating pizza
This is not a normal day; though we will see more redundancies in the profession in the coming period, on a much greater scale, entrants to the profession should not be put off. I still believe that what we do is valuable, that we should fight to preserve it against philistinism. I may have lost this battle, but the war continues.